The outbreak is causing compounded delays in China. What are your options?
The devastating effects of the Coronavirus in China and elsewhere are not limited to human tragedy. Our friends at many printing facilities in China are dealing with the situation and keeping their families and workforce safe. We asked our Sales Director, Paul Reber, about the current situation and your options into avoiding logistics issues.
Coronavirus is affecting all our plants in China, and not just in the Hubei province. This impacts Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, where the virus has created a complete shutdown. There is a mandatory quarantine in the Huangwai province currently, so any plants, any representatives, anyone who took a vacation to those areas during the Chinese new year celebrations is quarantined and not able to get out.
This is causing a series of problems. The plants are shut down at least until February 10, if not longer. This has exponential delays, as while the plants may open on the 10th, paper deliveries are now behind for days, ports are congested, pre-press work and communications are behind schedule.
It’s having a terrible effect on China, and those ripple effects are felt on a global scale.
Are there other options?
We understand, as our Chinese print partners understand, that our clients have important deadlines to meet. Thus we are currently moving some of our production into other countries. We have several trusted, long standing partners in South Korea, as well as plants in Malaysia and India.
We have offset and digital options available in the United States for 500 to 10,000 strong print runs, as well as web presses for larger runs of books, journals or calendars.
So if you are concerned about your print project in China, we can help you choose another option.
We have, for example, a massive production facility in India that is perfect for softcovers, hardcovers, flexibound books, bibles, with turnaround time similar to China.
As Paul says: "They ship out of Chennai, and we have similar schedules from Chennai to east coast as we have from from Hong Kong to the west coast. We have already successfully moved projects from China to India and have them produced and delivered in the same time frame. Also, the labor rate is cheaper in India."
What about quality? "We pride ourselves with having closely vetted partners. Our Chinese partners have been with us the longest, and we trust they’ll remain so for decades to come. But every plant we partner with is efficient, regulated and certified. That means they are FSC certified, they are Prop 65 compliant, and their workforce is treated with the respect they deserve."
Printing in the US
The printing business has evolved rapidly in not just recent years, but recent months. The Chinese tariffs had us shuffle projects out of China mainly to South Korea, and we've had a multitude of gorgeous books produced there in recent years. But we also moved projects into the US. The US printing capacity is limited, but we can still offer many options to make your project stay on time.
One of the delays is, as mentioned earlier, pre-press. In most cases it is performed at the printing plant. So if pre-press had not been performed on your book before the shutdown, it isn’t going to be completed during the shutdown either, therefore even if the printers open up on February 10th that doesn't necessarily mean your book will start printing on that day. In fact, it's highly unlikely it will.
Four Colour Print Group has our own pre-press department in Dayton, Ohio: FCI Digital. We have expert technicians who can handle Epson and Canon proofing, handle color management, file editing, and all the rest. We also have a full digital book manufacturing facility there that can handle a wide variety of short run projects, from casebound to coil bound, from advance reader copies and blads to saddle-stitch and much else. Ask us about the options.
There is an end to this. There are at the time of writing news about successful treatments, and vaccines being produced. Printing in China will resume, and the quality and pricing will remain exceptional.
Shout out to our friends in all these places — this is not just a logistics and economic nightmare, but a deeply human one. We’ve worked with some of our printers in China for over 35 years, and they are our friends, partners and colleagues. We wish all the best for them during this epidemic.
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