Interview with Karl Fritchen, President of QuadTech, Inc.

Sussex, WI--January 2005--The following interview was published in PrintCom Asia, PrintCom India, Rind Survey, and other publications. It was also distributed to attendees of Deutscher Drucker's Top Symposium held in India, Singapore, and China in March of 2005.

As CEO and a member of staff that has held a multitude of jobs within QuadTech, from field service to sales, both in the USA and Asia, Karl Fritchen is ideally placed to provide the strategic direction for QuadTech in Asia.

Q. As QuadTech approaches its 25th Anniversary, we would like to know how its Asian markets have changed in recent years.
A. Although we are discussing one region, the geographic markets within it are clearly different, while newspapers and commercial printers also have different needs.

Newspapers and publishing

For example, in India newspapers are printing increasingly more color pages, moving from almost nothing 4 years ago. Regional newspapers are expanding and building satellite plants to create more national products, creating more competition between publishing groups which leads to multiple press installations. We therefore see a boom period for ancillary press controls, and predict a growth for QuadTech of up to 20%. This growth will be driven by two trends; the drive towards better quality color and pressure from advertisers for sharp and accurately registered adverts; the need to contain waste through reduced makeready. Furthermore, the speed of new presses has increased significantly, placing more emphasis on control through closed-loop systems.

Our response to these market conditions is to continue to work closely with local OEMs such as Manugraph. Our focus will be to continue to sell the Autotron™ Newspaper 2800 Register Guidance System, which has a strong 20-year reputation in the region, reflected by 24 sales since drupa to key names such as Times of India and Hindustan Times.

Similarly, in Australia large publishing groups are adding more colour, we will continue to capitalize on this trend as we have done with Rural Press. This company has increased colour capacity in many of it regional sites, with quality controlled by QuadTech register guidance technology.

In China, newspapers are working to improve color quality and the number of color pages. The market is very cost conscious and yet strives to adopt the latest technology. Many of the major press manufacturers including those from Japan see China as having major market potential. We have strong links with Komori and Goss and will continue to penetrate this market with more cost effective solutions.

As the market becomes more sophisticated we will offer our new MultiCam® register technology, which shares a common operating platform with our products for colour control and JDF integration. Offering the market a future growth path.

Commercial print

For commercial printers the average print run in the region is dropping to around 50,000 copies, but the need to optimize press utilization is increasing. This leads to the need for faster job changeovers and a predominance of 16-page presses, rather than their larger counterparts currently used in Europe. Automatic register and cut-off controls are standard on these presses but there is still a major opportunity to add automatic color control.

QuadTech’s color control system has the advantage of operating on our ICON™ platform, providing major advantages in its integration with other QuadTech products. The ICON™ platform is the backbone of our strategy for sales to commercial printers because it is the future of press automation. As the market becomes more sensitive to waste, the integration of ICON™ products comes into its own. This is due to the advanced features of Data Central®, which not only provides an interface to all things JDF but provides accurate performance data, enabling press operators to improve their processes and reduce waste.

This strategy is built upon strong foundations and long term relationships with some of the major printing groups in the area including; Times Group, Ultimate Print, Toppan and R.R.Donnelley.

There are approximately 200 commercial presses currently using our register control systems throughout the region, giving them an excellent base on which to add our new product capabilities.

Q. Obviously waste reduction is important in the region how can QuadTech help?
A. QuadTech has a series of products to meet the changing needs of the web printing market, including register and cut-off controls, systems for controlling color and automating press and job set up. All these technologies reduce waste by delivering more saleable copies per run.

Focusing on salable copies puts our products in the lead over the competition. For example, in newspapers with the right printing conditions, we can reach the IFRA register standard for a 4-high tower in just 40 press revolutions. Compare this to the norm of 1,000-1500 revolutions before good copies are printed and the savings are staggering!

Q. What other important contributions can you make?
A. The next big change will be the level of automation employed in web printing processes. Due to their 24/7 demands, printing plants need to become like manufacturing facilities, churning out thousands of identical products, re-tooling in a few minutes and then making something different. QuadTech sees itself as being at the heart of this revolution with our “Lights Out” concept for printing.

“Lights Out” is the creation of printing environments where there are no bottlenecks, inconsistencies, inaccuracies or unknowns. JDF is at the heart of our solution – we are a member of CIP4 – but our vision will take us into further associations and partnerships with other suppliers, such as the one we have with System Brunner on our color control products.

About BALDWIN | Vision Systems (formerly QuadTech)

BALDWIN’s Vision Systems division is the world’s leading innovator of advanced color and inspection technology for the printing industry. BALDWIN | Vision Systems sells its automated control systems in more than 100 countries to the packaging and converting markets, web offset newspaper and commercial markets, and publication gravure market. BALDWIN maintains a worldwide network of sales and service operations, and is privately owned by BW Forsyth Partner, the investment arm of multi-billion dollar global manufacturing and engineering consulting firm Barry-Wehmiller.


Craig Du Mez, BALDWIN | Vision Systems
Phone: +1 414 566 7500

Clare Porter, Bespoke
Phone: +44 (0) 1737 215200