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FLEXO Magazine : December 2007
From a market standpoint, the indus- try faces many of the same challenges as North America---consolidation, offshore outsourcing, prices and margins being driven down. I was surprised to learn of the amount of consolidation that has occurred, and thought that would be a difference in our two markets. From a prepress perspective, the major difference is that the traditional printer- tradeshop relationship is alive and well. Few printers outside of the corrugated market possess in-house capability. Thermal plate processing has yet to re- ally grab hold here, as well. There is only one prepress company providing digital thermal in Australia. It was interesting to notice that .045 in. is the most com- mon plate thickness in most narrow web and film printing. Application of ITR and direct-engraving plate technologies ap- pears to be at about the same point as it is in North America. . Obviously, Australia is very much in- fluenced by the British. Conducting busi- ness, therefore, is done so formally, yet in a very social manner. Sport coats and ties are the norm. Yet, in each case, upon arrival our host consistently made sure we were served coffee and, oftentimes, a snack of some sort. The Aussies are also very big on safety, security and sustainability. In addition to ear plugs and hair nets, every visitor must wear an orange vest when going through the "factories," as they call them. A lot of doors are security coded, even inside the plants. In many plants, forklifts are not allowed in areas where there is foot traffic---pallet jacks must instead be used. In the flexible packaging facilities, it is common practice to have to wash your hands before entering the production facility. Largely because of their remote- ness and limited resources, sustainability has become a natural way of conducting business for most companies. It was interesting to hear the effect that changing climate conditions have on inks, plates, substrates, etc. It's not something we're used to dealing with on our side of the world. At least not to that degree.