Chris Lynch, head of production technology, Xerox Middle East & Africa speaks about their Gulf Print and Pack participation.

As a manufacturer how do you contribute to the sustainability initiatives?
At Xerox we take the issue of sustainability very seriously and aim to develop technologies that minimise the environmental impact of both document systems and business processes. I attach details of our report entitled “Enabling Sustainability” which details some of the initiatives we have undertaken. We believe that what is good for society is good for Xerox and in 2018 we made good progress against some of our most ambitious environmental and social goals: 100% of products, parts and consumables returned by customers at the end-of-life were diverted from entering landfills. Instead, we remanufactured, reused, recycled, or provided the waste to suppliers who converted it into an energy source; 100% of newly-launched, eligible Xerox products satisfied the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and EPA ENERGY STAR eco-labels; 6% of our employee population are military veterans; 9% of our total supplier spend is with small businesses, minority-, women- or veteran-owned businesses; 91,000 hours were volunteered by our employees to local community involvement projects.
Digital industry already took the world in storm. Did you feel the tremor in the industry in terms of volumes?
Digital is everywhere. In the printing world, digital colour is the fastest growing sector of the print industry and is expected to grow at 29% CAGR.
Xerox certainly felt the tremor and we saw huge demand for digital colour products, including inkjet in 2018. This helped us grow our revenues and market share in a very competitive market.

There is a saying that packaging jobs don’t have big margins so we need to have big volumes to recover the high investment. Have you tried changing the margin aspect?
Traditional packaging jobs are typically of high volume and low margin, that’s true. However, the sweet spot for digital is required where there is short run, customised or personalised packaging runs. This is precisely where we are seeing strong demand and precisely where there are high margins.
Traditional printing in these areas are often loss making, since set up costs are high and run lengths are not long enough to recover these costs. Whether in the area of prototyping or market testing, variation or over-runs, personalised or customised packaging, digital printing offers print providers and customers a fast and cost-effective method of production.

One of the permanent challenges is the rising cost of the raw materials for the suppliers/printers. In which way, Xerox is supporting them?
Across MEA, customers are facing many challenges – increase in the cost of raw materials is one, and fluctuating exchange rates and of course, political and economic unrest is another. Of course, keeping costs low is important and Xerox understands that this is a fundamental aspect of competitiveness. Nearly all of Xerox operations across MEA are through a distributor model, precisely to keep costs down and make our products competitive. However, Xerox helps our partners and customers stay competitive in a number of other ways: Adding greater value to what is printed and making what is printed really stand out is a good example. Making print relevant through customisation and personalisation – customising what is printed for a particular audience so that it is relevant and gets read. Printing on demand or just in time – helps reduce vast inventories of printed materials, much of which could be wasted or never used.  In addition to these, Xerox is helping our customers remove waste and inefficiency from their operations by automating many tasks which were once labour intensive or by building into their printing presses, technologies which help them reduce the amount of set up time and waste or manual intervention. This allows them to be more productive and get through more jobs in a day.
Finally, helping print service providers in their digital transformation journey, encouraging them to adapt digital technology which looks at other channels of communication as well as printed material. All these initiatives are helping make customers think in new ways about transforming their businesses so as to become more competitive.

What is the single biggest way to change the packaging sector in the coming year?
Help the industry understand where digital fits and how they can adapt digital technology to help promote and protect their products and grow revenues and profits.

How was 2018 for your company and overall how did the industry perform in 2018?
2018 was a very successful year for Xerox, especially within the Graphic Communications (GC) sector. Across MEA region, Xerox grew both revenues and market share and we expect this trend to continue in 2019 and beyond as digital colour continues to be the fastest growing sector in the print industry.

What are the products/technologies you are going to showcase?
iGen5 with 5 colour gamut extension and Heavyweight Stock Kit to support the packaging industry; Iridesse Production Press with white/gold/silver/clear inks to enable 6 colours in a single pass; Versant family of  colour presses;  Rowe wide format  mono press and scanner. In addition, we will be demonstrating Xerox FreeFlow Core workflow automation tool and CMI Colour Management tool.

Recently, there were many restructuring happening in Xerox so will that help the Middle East and Africa customers?
The re-structuring which has happened across Xerox Corporation was necessary in order to make us leaner, more agile and able to respond more quickly to a market that is itself, going through enormous change and disruption.  This will ultimately benefit our customers in MEA as we become more competitive and more able to help our customers improve their productivity, add value to their business and differentiate themselves from others.