Ask what you can do for the printing industry not only what it can do for you

I wasn’t intoxicated, my mind wasn’t idle as I was actually busy thinking about a serious matter, so I really don’t understand why Mind-wandering (also referred to as task unrelated thought, colloquially, or autopilot) occurred to me at that point. For a better understanding mind-wandering is the experience of thoughts not staying on a topic for a long period of time, particularly when people are engaged in an attention-demanding task. The picture came clearly, I had escorted my sister to the busstop to get her a taxi, she had come to visit my mum. Orebe, in his usual attitude of tormenting people in the area was rude to my sister and I thought to teach him a lesson, before he could finish his statement “school boy (that is what he calls me as I was still in the university) mind your business ooo”, I had landed him a few punches. Orebe went down flat and started gasping for air. I just learnt a lesson that Orebe wasn’t as strong as his mouth. Water came pouring down Orebe’s head and he was revived as fast as he went down. Amongst those who gave the water treatment was iya beji, she sold plantain by the busstop. She took me by hand to her small shed, Akin you need to be weary of those whose position is “what can the country do for me?”, Orebe is at his busstop, avoid him and always think “what can I do for my country “. Iya beji has 3 children who are my friends, Taiwo was a medical student, while Kehinde was also studying Accountancy in my university. Their brother just gained admission to study engineering and we would all have been in school if not for the strike. It has always been a mystery to me and my siblings how iya beji could solely take care of the education of her children by just selling plaintain. Till now I still wonder… Back from Mind-wandering mode. Let me ask, what can you do for your printing industry? Instead of only waiting for what the government can do for you. Government as it were has failed, yet in a failed system some sectors are far above average in organizing themselves for growth and prosperity. I particularly like the movie industry in Nigeria. They have made so much difference that the government had no choice but to reckon with them, after all they have the numbers…

What can you do for your printing industry? Let’s start by painting a picture of the kind of industry printing is and how important it is to livelihood and trends. Printing beautifies so we must always think quality as against quantity. Printing informs so we must be better informed, my mind remembering the proverbial blind leading the blind, what a ditch will they both fall into. I am of the opinion that printers must always update their skills and be a step ahead. Printing shows direction, so we as printers must always be accurate, no room for errors. Printing is dynamic, it pushes trends in many direction, so we have no option but to be dynamic and trendy. Printing distinguishes, as my guys will say “separates the men from the boys”. Because the entire world comes in contact with one printed matter or the other, I am consoled that printing will remain relevant. The question today is that how can you help to make printing constantly relevant? 1. Maintain a high level of professional standard: This will attract the right customers to your printing business, it will also raise the entry standard so that new comers will have a standard to beat, otherwise they are discouraged to step in. It is not enough to know what CMYK is but to understand standards that will ensure that printers control and maintain the productive process which ensures repeatability for whatever is printed; in the first step for printing any job, and on the second step when a printed job is to be reproduced. Standards ensure accuracy in reproduction according to a regulatory parameter which fulfils the expectation of colours. In printing you must have an idea of ISO 12647 and its variants, the FOGRA PSO (process standard offset printing) – this assures the quality from creation to finish. I am of the opinion that Printing scholars, Printing Graduates and Academicians should champion the campaign for ensuring standards, they need to add their voices to that of the international standard communities and even create standards that are relevant to Africa and get them endorsed internationally. This is exactly what GRACol 2007 was about, discussions started in 1996 by the Graphics Communication Association (GCA), the Printing Industry of America (PIA) joined, also did the Graphics Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), they agreed with the ISO 12647 standard but based on the curves of the neutral point densities in relation to how white the paper is. Even though I agree that ignorance is not an excuse but we cannot totally blame the common printer for not understanding standards because those who know are not showing the benefits. 2. Everyone has a part to play: This write up just threw up a challenge to the academia’s, so will it to equipment sellers, paper merchants/producers/converters, graphics artists, trainers, machine minders/operators and in fact the print estimator and even the print buyers. If we all play our parts by self-regulating ourselves then the job of the regulatory bodies becomes easier. We then become partner in progress rather than what Nigerian regulators look like, for want of a better word, let’s call the relationship between the regulatory bodies and those regulated as “police and thief”, the printing industry should change the narratives, even the regulators need printers so we better be partners. 3. Adjust prices accordingly: Everyone increases prices except the printer. The other day I made a comparison for a digitally printed label between Nigeria and the Uk on our printing platform saying “let’s look at some label printing troubleshooting this morning. This label would have been printed in Nigeria and hand carried to the UK if not for the air space closure, now my person printed it for; £19.19 for a pack of 50 obviously digitally printed. Same 55x84mm label if printed here in Nigeria, the end user will not agree to N70 each. Yet same label is printed N189.32k each. My question is why end users in Nigeria always pays less, knowing that all equipment’s, materials and consumables are imported. Are Nigeria digital label printers really making money?” It is similar with the DTG printers, a shirt printed for $25 abroad will be priced at N2,000 here in Naija. As part of our responsibilities, we must all look at our pricing structure again. According to William J. Clinton, the price of doing the same old thing is far higher than that of change, it is absolutely insane to continue an old approach and expect new results. This is a call to upgrade, let the conversation continue by stating what more you believe you can do for your printing industry. Thoughts from: Akin Oduwole CE @ Technology Global

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