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Hands On Press Controls.

German press maker MAN Roland refuses to relinquish press electronics to outside vendors

WITH PRINTING PRESS electronics more sophisticated than ever, MAN Roland says now is no time to lose control.

Top executives of Offenbach, Germany-based MAN Roland declared at Nexpo that they won't join the recent trend of outsourcing press controls to specialty vendors.

"We take the ownership and responsibility for interfacing with the production process," MAN Roland CEO Helgi Schmidt-Liermann said. "We facilitate the very best, the most seamless interface with the flow of product. And we think to leave the responsibility for that to someone else is dicey."

Schmidt-Liermann acknowledged the growing numbers -- and marketing clout -- of vendors specializing in press controls, and said MAN Roland was willing to work with those companies when customers show "a very strong preference." But he and other MAN Roland executives suggested they were loathe to trust the fate of their big iron to outside vendors.


"We fear that over time, as markets change and economic circumstances change, the players you work with today may be gone tomorrow," Schmidt-Liermann said. "Everybody looks to [the printing press maker] regardless of what comes in and they look at what comes out. Who is going to be the guy responsible in the end when something doesn't work?"

Schmidt-Liermann was asked if MAN Roland's emphasis on supplying its own controls at a time when specialty control vendors are emerging might be analogous to the situation proprietary front-end computer system vendors faced when companies emerged offering off-the-shelf personal computers. He accepted the analogy -- but rejected the implication that they would founder like other vendors have.

It's an excellent point. In the same sense you saw prepress computer makers fail because they had nothing left to offer but service," he said.

MAN Roland executives also argue that the company's size -- in this fiscal year revenue broke $1.7 billion -- and depth of product line gives the company a big advantage.

"We have such a broad number of resources and experience in research and development," said Vince Lapinski, vice president of the North American newspaper group. "If we were just a newspaper press supplier, that might not be a good strategy."

All MAN Roland presses, commercial or newspaper, use the company's Pecom networking and control system, which monitors the range of Printing processes. The newspaper version, Pecom N, for instance, monitors job preparation, register, web Splicing and ink/water balance and links to prepress and Post-press functions.

"We continue and will continue and will always continue in that Way," Lapinski said.

MAN Roland Buys Asian Distributor

Mark Fitzgerald

PRESS MAKER MAN Roland is taking over its longtime distribution partner in Asia and looking to acquire its European distributor as well.

With the agreement to buy its Asian distributor, MAN Roland "now controls its own destiny by having a very strong distribution system in Asia," CEO Helgi Schmidt-Liermann stated at a June 21 press conference during Nexpo '98 in Orlando.

German-based MAN Roland and NV Koninklijke KNP BT of Amsterdam signed a memorandum of understanding, June 17, integrating the Asian distributorship known as the Votra Group into MAN Roland.

At the same time, the manufacturer said it intended to acquire KNP BT's stake in the European company Omnigraph Group, its largest distribution partner.

MAN Roland is a minority Shareholder in Omnigraph, which was formed in 1994 from the merger of eight independent distribution companies.
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Title Annotation:MAN Roland
Author:Fitzgerald, Mark
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Jun 27, 1998
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