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Océ Australia after 5 months of independence
By Colleen Bate

Just over five months ago Océ Australia made its debut as Canon Australia transitioned their professional printing business to a separate, dedicated Canon Group entity. Establishing a head office in Clayton, Melbourne, with offices around Australia and a network of dealers across New Zealand, customers still deal with the same team members who have the same suite of products and services, just now under the Océ brand.

Hired from Océ UK, Craig Nethercott accepted the position of Managing Director of Océ Oceania in October 2017, to lead the newly-formed division and have the Océ name returned as the brand to lead expansion of production printing. Nethercott proves to be the man for the job. He applies a relationship-led approach to business, has over 20 years of experience across the business and was Director of commercial printing for the UK and Ireland for four years. Since joining the industry in 2000 he's filled various roles at Océ. He also has had experience of working in Australia having spent nine years here, which helped him understand the business culture down under.

A smiling Garry Muratore
Garry Muratore

Another man for the job is Garry Muratore, who took up the role as Océ Australia’s Product Manager for Graphic Arts in January. With over four decades of experience under his belt, Garry is aptly considered to be an industry stalwart. He was previously Canon Australia’s Product Manager for Display Graphics, and as Agfa's marketing manager, was responsible for the 2005 launch of the company's entry in display graphics in Australia. He also spent time with GMG, colour management specialist, via their leading reseller Kayell Australia. 

Effective since January, Océ Australia now handles the marketing, distribution and service for the Océ branded production printing products. Product categories that have moved across to the new entity are Display Graphics, Technical Drawing Systems, Continuous Printing and Imaging Supplies. Products in these categories include the ColorStream/ProStream continuous feed inkjet series; the ColorWave series; the VarioPrint i-series sheet-fed inkjet systems and of course the Arizona flatbed series and the flagship Colorado 1640 64” roll-to-roll printer. 

The newly formed Océ Australia has begun to stamp its mark and continue its role in the  display graphics and wide-format printing in this region.

So far so good, so what more are we likely to see from Océ Australia this year?

For those with an interest in data-driven applications, it may be wise to watch the progress of the VarioPrint i300 with interest (one was installed in Melbourne last year and another installed in New Zealand earlier this year).

In technical data systems, Océ continues to have success with the ColorWave series of technical printers (also commonly used as a short run poster printer) but has not announced whether we can expect to see the Colorwave 9000 down under this year (the printer has just made its European debut at FESPA 2018). 

Océ also continues to actively promote the flagship Colorado wide format printer, which has received great acclaim at events such as FESPA (where it made its debut), ISA and last year’s PacPrint in Melbourne.

Océ Colorado 1640

Colorado 1640
The Océ Colorado

For those that haven’t been aware of the all the attention it has been getting this past year, the Colorado 1640 is a 1.64m-wide roll-fed inkjet printer intended for signage and related work, offering both high image quality and high throughput. The printer and its dedicated printheads plus UVgel ink are made at Océ factories in Venlo, in the Netherlands.

When asked about the learnings of six months’ worth of local sales, Muratore was upbeat:

“The common thing I hear from customers is that they claim Océ has undersold the machine. Almost daily I hear positive stories on new applications they have tried, faster speeds and lower costs.

“What we are also finding is a desire from customers to look to install additional units. Already we have a local customer with multiple units and others making arrangements to look to additional capacity. Our experience from Europe where they have been selling a little longer than us is that 30% of Colorado owners opt for multiple units. Normally these units accelerate the retirement of older R2R units, with one German printer replacing 20 eco-solvent units with 5 Colorados in the space of a few months.”

Since it was launched at FESPA in 2017, there have been around 500 installations internationally, transforming roll-to-roll production for hundreds of businesses. 

The printer has steadily gained praise - it won the SGIA 2017 Product of the Year Award for ‘RTR/Hybrid/Flatbed New Technology or Ink-set.  In addition, the innovative Océ UVgel ink technology used for the Colorado 1640 recently scored Greenguard Gold certification proven safe by seven environmental tests.

UVgel ink is a new development by Océ and the all new design of the Colorado 1640 is the first of a planned family of Colorado UVgel printers that will be sold alongside the established Arizona range of flatbed printers, which use conventional liquid UV inks. 

This is confirmed by Muratore when he says: "UVgel and its associated print head technology is a 100% Océ development meaning we don’t have to rely on third party technology suppliers for on-going development. We make no secret that this new technology platform will be the basis of a family machines to be introduced over time. "

At the time of going to press with this article, Océ Australia could not comment on when the rollout of these family machines would be but earlier this year it was indicated that we could expect to see 'future innovations' in the Arizona range. What we do know is that that the Greenguard Gold certification places UVgel on par with technologies such as HP Latex, and far safer than solvent with the VOCs associated with that ink.

According to Garry Muratore, it's another tick in the box for compliance in critical applications. He says, "Océ UVgel technology and the Océ Colorado 1640 can ultimately be used in sensitive environments, such as hospitals and schools and those that require odour free prints, such as restaurants and supermarkets."

Another tick in the box for the Océ Colorado 1640 was its recent showcase at FESPA 2018 by Canon Europe. There, the technology’s exceptional productivity and media versatility was evident -  separate printers were on the stand producing a range of high-value décor products, including wall paper, floor graphics and fine art photo canvases, as well as more conventional wide format applications such as banners and self-adhesive graphics. 

Future predictions for UVgel are summed up by Muratore as follows:

"I see UVgel as a huge market disruption so I consider the future an excellent one for Océ.  The quote I once heard was “The telephone did not come into existence from the persistent improvement of the postcard” In print technology terms we’re making telephones and not postcards”

Canon and Oce Oceania
Transitioning Océ Australia to a separate and dedicated Canon Group entity may not have been an easy task but according to Garry Muratore, it is a small change for customers as they are dealing with the same people.

Providing another positive slant, back in early 2017, Yusuke Mizoguchi, managing director of Canon Oceania, described the decision to create a separate division for professional printing under the Océ name as enabling the company to focus on “providing access to expertise and service excellence to customers whose businesses depend on the quality of Océ products”. 

The move has enabled Océ Australia to have a sharper focus in this specialised market. Australia and New Zealand are indeed 'specialised markets' - their smaller market size provide scope for more flexibility and innovation which may be the reason why they readily embrace new technologies. 

Craig Nethercott values this unique region. "It's a strategically important reason for us and with the change, has made us more responsive, agile and better able to help our customers become more efficient and prosperous."

Of the Océ Australia team he says: "There’s a real passion and energy within Océ that I have rarely found replicated elsewhere and it is certainly evident in the team here. 

“I think our customers will really notice that as they connect more closely to the company and its unique DNA," he concludes.

Océ Australia