The New Normal: Print Industry Post-Covid and Beyond


The implications of the COVID-19 situation are still unfolding but it will have impacts at both a site level for any print organisation (social distancing rules and reduced staff/staggered operating hours) as well as in the ordering process from customers (online orders).

Both mean that any organisation needs to closely look at their processes, both in terms of workflow (how orders are received and dealt with from end to end) and in terms of mechanical/human processes (mapping who does what and how it can work with a 2m social distancing rule in place or staggered hours/less staff).

Organisation that bounce back are the ones that are able to put in place a fluid, automated, end to end workflow and processes, using the relevant software solutions and automated mechanical solutions to address each step of the process.

Automated precision is part of our DNA at DUPLO so we are fortunate to have systems and processes that will support the ‘new’ requirements for most print organisations; we apply such philosophy to how we operate ourselves so have been able to already adjust to a new reality as an organisation.

Working practices were already evolving; the COVID-19 situation has just massively accelerated a change that was already taking place.”

Social distancing rules are new, but again, with a clear understanding of processes required in any workplace, they can be addressed for as little impact as can be on the actual work that needs doing. Flexibility is always key to any survival. Companies that adapt quickly to our new ‘normal’ will come out of the crisis faster. For printers, it probably means being able to do more smaller jobs, last minute orders, a wider range of applications, as well as bringing everything in-house. Investing in systems that automate current processes and that open new opportunities/diversify their range of applications, will be key.

Within DUPLO, this is the first time many of our staff members have worked from home on a continual basis – and it’s worked because we have a clear understanding of processes taking place in every part of our business, and had already invested in the tools that enable to work us from anywhere in the world, from virtual meetings to giving access to distributors to our technical and marketing platforms. With the right tools and processes in place, everything can be done; we even launched two new products in April, totally virtually, and have started to receive customer orders for them. Change is always inevitable so we might just learn to embrace it.

Duplo have introduced virtual clinics to support printers with the tools to diversify.

Now more than ever print companies are going to need to diversify as much as they can the range of applications they are offering. A digital printer can tap into on demand digital packaging applications for example, broadening their range of customers and adding a new revenue stream. It is about understanding the systems they already own and have, and being creative with what else they could produce with it. That is one of the reasons why we are launching in May ‘virtual clinics’ for our DUPLO customers. We want to help them achieve more with their existing systems by sharing with them our internal expertise but also answer their questions live to help them truly master their equipment and create new applications for new customers. That has been in the past one of our areas of frustration at DUPLO: to see some of our automated systems used for repetitive work when there is so much more that system can do. We’re hoping to share our knowledge and help printers become more creative with what they can offer and tap into new products.

Automation has never been more important

At Duplo our ethos has always been automation and precision. It’s the name of our headquarters building. Automation has never been more important than it is now, and our ‘load it and leave’ approach to finishing is a case in point. Automation will play a key role in getting businesses back up and running; printers will be running with less people in factories, reduced numbers that are able to work at the same time, run lengths will become even shorter, and the number of different jobs will increase. The ability to adapt workflows to changing pressure will mean more connectivity from start to finish.  

“We will continue to adapt and proactively support others with the tools needed to survive in this new normal”

There is no denying that the current crisis is an unmitigated disaster both in lives lost and the impact it has had on the UK economy. Some of us may be sitting at home thinking that nothing can be worse than this, it’s humbling to think of all the things that were taken for granted just 8 weeks ago. It’s brought to light how lucky we are to live and be part of a society that can move so quickly to help and protect its own and others. We at Duplo are extremely proud to be part of an industry ready and able to support the key workers on and off the scene.