2007 Business Growth Plans Survey for Flatbed Injet, Wide Format Inkjet & Grand-Format Inkjet
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2007 Business Growth Plans Survey for Flatbed Injet, Wide Format Injet & Grand-Format Inkjet

The results of SGIA’s recent 2007 Business Growth Plans Survey demonstrate an interesting reality in our industry, and show a healthy difference between what imaging companies want (equipment-wise), and what they ultimately buy. Through the magic of trending data, let’s take a look.

By Dan Marx, V.P of Markets & Technologies, SGIA

The results of SGIA’s recent 2007 Business Growth Plans Survey demonstrate an interesting reality in our industry, and show a healthy difference between what imaging companies want (equipment-wise), and what they ultimately buy. Through the magic of trending data, let’s take a look.

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  • In the survey, respondents were asked which type of digital imaging output device they bought in 2006. Companies reported they purchased the following (see table for a complete listing):

    • Flatbed Inkjet: UV-Curable................... 14.8%
    • Roll-to-Roll Inkjet: Solvent Less than 243 cm (96 inches).... 14.8%
    • Roll-to-Roll Inkjet: Solvent More than 243 cm (96 inches).... 9.3%
    Compared with what companies reported in the 2006 survey — when asked what they intended to buy in the year ahead — we begin to see an interesting view among equipment in today’s “hottest” categories.

    At that time, 44.2 percent of those responding indicated they planned to purchase a flatbed using UV-curable inks, while 32.5 percent intended to purchase a solvent printer less than 243 cm (96 inches) in width, and 14.3 percent reported they would purchase a solvent printer more that 243 cm (96 inches) in width.

    In all three of these cases, the ultimate actions of respondents significantly underperformed their stated intentions. In fact, when it comes to the UV flatbeds, only one-third (33.4 percent) ultimately followed through with their purchases.

    There are reasons why a company chooses to not follow through with its plans for the year ahead. Levels of business, available cash flow, sticker shock and increasingly competitive markets are all factors contributing to the decision not to buy. It could also be that, in some cases, the machine you want to buy (much like the sports car you want to buy) is not the machine you ultimately purchase (can you say mini-van?).

    Clarke Systems- Slatz Capture was designed to meet the challenge of change.

    Beyond the speculation, however, could be statistical evidence of a change in the outlook of digital imaging businesses over the past year. According to data from SGIA’s 2007 Financial Outlook Survey, companies using digital imaging technology either as their primary technology, or jointly with screen printing, reported significantly lower expectations for sales growth between 2006 and 2007.

    In fact, among companies doing business entirely in digital imaging, the drop was profound, at almost 12 percent (32.4 percent in 2006 versus 20.8 percent in 2007). It could be concluded a deflated sense of business growth optimism caused companies to hold off on their equipment purchases.

    The effect of this downturn, and its resulting purchase decisions, can be illustrated by again looking to the results of this year’s Business Growth Plans survey. In the same “hot” categories as presented earlier, plans to purchase are lower across-the-board in 2007 than they were in 2006.

    In some cases, the reduction is small, such as for UV-curable flatbeds, where the change was from 44.2 percent to 38.3 percent. In the case of solvent printers less than 243 cm (96 inches), the change is much more significant, from 32.5 percent in 2006 to 12.3 percent in 2007.

    More than anything, the data shows our industry is willing and able to move within the natural ebb and flow of business. The good news to be found here is that we’re working with continual growth, where, in some cases, the numbers are very positive. It will be interesting to see how equipment purchases pan out in the year ahead.

    This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, 2nd Quarter 2007 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2007 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.

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