Day 6: Charting Wide-Format Printing’s Course – Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

14 days of critical information to prepare your business for 2012.

Big Picture

BPIC: This spring’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan affected many companies in our marketplace with Japanese ties – have you seen these companies bounce back all the way?

Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: The wide-format printer industry is far more geographically spread out than the copier/MFP printer industry that’s centered in Japan. As a result, the impact to the wide-format printer industry has been minimal. The core Japanese technology component providers to the wide-format printer industry are located mainly in the Nagona mountain region outside of the directly impacted zones in Japan. Canon was impacted somewhat in its inkjet business, but it’s well prepared to deal with supply-chain disruptions. In fact, most continued to manufacture products at higher volumes this spring, in anticipation of rolling electrical blackouts this summer as demands for air conditioning soars. Many shut down for one to two weeks this August, letting the distribution chain draw down on inventories they had build up.

Peter Mayhew, Lyra: It’s fair to say that most of the companies affected by these tragic disasters have moved swiftly to ensure that product ranges, front-line sales, and consequently market share are not damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. However, the effect on the balance sheets of those companies that report the information publicly, shows that the businesses of some are certainly showing some scars.

Tim Greene, InfoTrends: I was in Japan in June, not long after the earthquake and tsunami, and I was really impressed by the resiliency and resourcefulness of the people that I met over there. Speaking with many of the manufacturers, from here on it seems like there are going to be some ongoing issues with the supply chains for parts – much more so than the wide-format printer manufacturing companies themselves.

Art Wynne, BERTL Some manufacturers have not had their supply line affected by the events that took place in Japan. Others have suffered an impact and a shortage of products that they can deliver to the marketplace. It may take six to 12 months before we see manufacturers bounce back to pre-earthquake numbers.

Dan Marx, SGIA: I hope they have. Japanese manufacturing is so critical to the technologies used in the digital graphics industry. Recent reports I’ve seen show Japan getting back on track, though the repercussions of the earthquake and tsunami will be felt both here and there for some time to come.

The Big Picture has assembled five of the marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants and asked them to help you evaluate the wide-format industry. Each day over the next two weeks, we’ll post a new, critical question from The Big Picture with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.

Our 2011 panel participants include: Marco Boer, consulting partner, I.T. Strategies (; Tim Greene, director, visual communication technologies consulting service, InfoTrends (; Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, SGIA (; Peter Mayhew, director, Lyra Research Europe (; and Art Wynne, president, Business Equipment Research and Test Laboratories (BERTL,

Like this article? Share it with your friends using the social media links above.

Click here for Day Five Q & A. Stay tuned for day seven of Charting Wide Format's Course!


View more from this Big Picture issue