Kodak’s partnership with OEM began years back when the company first started purchasing film, plates, and processors from Kodak. About a decade ago, Mario Vázquez Raña, OEM’s Chairman and CEO, signed an agreement to acquire 70 Kodak CTP systems along with Kodak thermal plates. In 2017, the company signed a 5-year supply agreement for SONORA NEWS Process Free Plates, making OEM one of Kodak's biggest SONORA Plate customer in the world.
OEM’s investment in innovative printing technology is part of the company’s proactive business strategy to address the numerous challenges newspaper publishers continue to face.
Kodak speaks with Francisco Torres Vázquez, OEM’s Executive Vice President who leads OEM’s efforts to update the company’s technological and communications infrastructure to prepare it for the challenges of the modern publishing age.
How is OEM’s print division doing today in Mexico?
The newspaper sector in Mexico is like most of Latin America, with newspapers shifting to smaller, higher-quality print runs. We’ve tackled this situation by supplementing our printed media with digital media products. It helps to balance the high cost of raw materials, especially the cost of paper, which has increased considerably since last year. While we can’t reverse this trend, our runs have remained stable, and we have managed to improve them in some cases, with a minor recovery for some of OEM’s daily papers.
I attribute this rebound to various strategies that involve all the company's business areas. We’ve spent a lot of time improving content, with a greater focus on local issues and social content in each of our daily papers. We’re also developing national supplements that our readers and advertisers will be sure to appreciate, especially since we are the only publisher that can cover the whole country through various publications. Investments in technology, like the KODAK SONORA NEWS Process Free Plate, help us improve our printing processes while giving our readers and advertisers top quality printed newspapers.
Can you talk about the size and scope of your printing operation? How many printing plants do you operate to produce 60 daily newspapers?
Every day OEM prints over one million copies of its daily papers. We have over 80 presses across 36 printing plants, and all printing is done on SONORA NEWS Process Free Plates, which are imaged by 70 CTP systems.
What challenges did you face that prompted your decision to switch to SONORA NEWS Plates?
One of the most significant factors in the newspaper printing process is the limited amount of time that’s available to run the presses and print daily papers. Because we were using a processor, we knew there was a lot of wasted time in our operations. We started looking at this situation a lot more closely over the past few years and were intrigued by what Kodak’s SONORA technology could do to help us solve this issue.
Since you’ve implemented SONORA into your operation, what are the biggest benefits for the company?
Most importantly, we’ve gained over an hour of daily print time because we have eliminated the development part of the plate making process, which in turn has reduced the costs for purchases of consumables, repairs, power, water and chemicals. Our costs have dropped considerably as we no longer must purchase 2,000 liters of developer and 1,000 liters of gum every month.
We have also eliminated a potentially vulnerable point in the process concerning system faults, therefore reducing maintenance requirements and streamlining the printing process, while improving print results. For years OEM has been using soy-based inks and recycled paper, and the only chemical product used in the process was the developer, so no longer using this system has made OEM's printing process environmentally friendly, while ensuring we’re as productive as possible.
OEM has been concerned with the protection of the environment and ecological questions for years. We frequently promote campaigns on the themes of environmental sustainability, the environment, and recycling among the readers of our newspapers. KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates fit perfectly with our focus in these areas.
How important do you think it is for publishers like OEM to consider sustainable technology when investing in new printing technology?
Here at OEM, we understand we can’t merely think of profit as our company’s primary goal. We must also consider the footprint that we’re leaving behind for future generations. We know that if we want our readers to identify with OEM, we must respect and promote values that mean something to them.
That’s why we have several sustainability initiatives across our various divisions. Our goal is to guarantee that our readers can read the news printed on sustainable paper that is recovered at our plant and by third parties, which then goes to our paper and paperboard plants to be recycled. As soon as we became aware of the ecological advantages associated with KODAK SONORA Process Free Plates, we understood that they were in line with OEM’s goals and decided to incorporate them in our process.
What does the future look like for OEM’s print business?
We’re particularly excited about our market specialization. Producing a newspaper every day to the highest standards of quality, both concerning how it’s printed and the news inside is something special. We want our papers to be something people look forward to every day, and as soon as the reader has it in their hands, they know it’s a quality product that we put a lot of work and passion into.