Page 4: Specialisation
As a firm's market grows, it can take increased advantage of specialisation. Specialisation involves using dedicated equipment and a high quality labour force in ways that concentrate the firm's efforts on those areas in which it excels. Because it is a market leader, Polestar is able to invest in state-of-the-art specialist technology, giving customers the quality and service that they require, and so remain the market leader: a virtuous circle.
CTP technology enables computer-generated pages to be transferred directly on to a printing plate digitally. Previously digital files were imaged on to a film and a plate was made from the film through an analogue process. It is a natural extension of the other computerised front-end processes, such as typesetting, image capture, retouching, design and page make-up.
Examine one of the pictures on this case study with a magnifying glass. You will see that the photograph is made up of black, yellow, pink and light blue dots. The size and amount of these dots changes as the overall colours change across the picture. The printing press has a printing unit for each of these 4 colours, with a tank of each different ink. Each unit has a plate which transfers the right amount of ink into the right place for each of the four colours.
The new technology has enhanced the printing process in many technical areas related to quality. It also reduces the time to set up the printing press and paper/ink wastage. The benefits to the customers include:
- Speed. This is vital in the fast moving print industry. For example, a newspaper may make a last-minute decision to feature a leading story that has only just broken within its weekend magazine.
- Greater accuracy. All clients will want to see 100accuracy in its catalogues e.g. no misplaced captions or reversed images.
- Shorter lead time with greater flexibility. Producers of magazines that rely on advertising (e.g. Woman's Own) will want to be able to have their magazines produced quickly and also to show their own clients (e.g. advertisers) what the end product will look like prior to publication. Polestar provides customers with fast, efficient connections to a complete range of Polestar services, via the Internet. Customers can request and receive quotations, orders and other correspondence, as well as being able to track jobs and check proofs online.
- Ability to make last minute changes. Retailers and travel companies, for example, may want to change their prices and some of their offers at the very last minute in response to their competitors marketing initiatives.
There are also benefits to Polestar from CTP. These include being able to:
- focus confidently on customer requirements, because the technology 'can do'
- respond far more flexibly to customer requirements and keep them informed at all stages
- offer competitive pricing - lower costs are passed on to the customer
- train its employees to become multi-skilled and so offer them job enrichment. Modern printers who are trained to use CTP are far more aware of their role in creating the end product because they can see it taking shape on the screens in front of them.
All of this contrasts with earlier printing technology, under which printing was a lengthy process involving many manual operations and where print workers concentrated on specific skills (e.g. typesetting, platemaking) rather than on being multi-skilled.