Based in the high tech corridor of the Netherlands in Venlo, Océ is eyeing Champions’ League-style domination of the global printing sector.
Already, it offers one of the industry’s broadest range of printing technologies, products and services, backed by best-in-class service and support organizations. Moving forward, Océ is aiming for growth in graphic arts markets, business services industries and industrial printing markets including:
Like all tech companies at the top, Océ needs engineers – domain architects – to expand on this portfolio, including the development of new products and technologies aimed at digitizing commercial print and targeting the burgeoning 3D printing market.
A print system architect has the challenge of working within projects with various product development teams, and could be an engineer with a mechanical, electrical, or software applications background. Out of the box thinking is required to creating business value from cross-discipline technology concepts.
“We like our multi-disciplinary domain architects to work with all corners of the company and with engineers of all relevant technical disciplines – and we don’t expect people to remain fixed in their original engineering teams,” explains Paul Hilkens, Océ vice president of R&D.
“In order to innovate, we need engineers that are happy working across borders – because we’re determined to develop the most advanced digital printing technology on the market globally.”
In 2D printing, the challenge is to digitise analogue processes, and replace offset printing in industry with inkjet alternatives. 3D printing, or additive layer manufacturing as it’s sometimes known, is at an early but much hyped stage of its evolution. The potential prizes are huge, however. Here too, digital technology plays a critical role. But finding engineers that are capable of filling the demanding, modern role of domain architect is not easy, according to Hilkens.
“Of course, there is a wider trend in engineering towards multidisciplinary working,” he says. “But the domain architects are more difficult to find and that’s why we are focusing on recruitment across Europe now.”
For example, the company recruits up to 50 new engineers a year on a rolling programme. These can be drawn from anywhere on the Continent, including the UK, where domain architects are attracted to the hi-tech corridor around Eindhoven – one of the leading technological hubs in western Europe.
“In our research labs, 3D printing technology is of course one of the topics we are working on” says Hilkens, “but we also prioritize digitising analogue print – this too is a huge challenge.”
Engineers at Océ are taking that technology to the offset printing industry, where it has the potential to reduce cost, increase flexibility, and produce short runs of prints more efficiently.,
“Digital printing technology will help to avoid overproduction,” he says. “It also enables customisation for different regions and different markets, rationalised paper assortment, and improved printing quality and colour matching standards.”
These improvements are critical for international consumer brands that cannot afford to have any deviation in quality between print runs, while at the same time optimizing flexibility across different regions.
“It is digitisation where the challenges lie,” continues Hilkens. “We’ve decided that inkjet is the way to tackle the challenge. We need engineers who understand materials, micro-mechanics and precision engineering, and areas of simulation such as fluid dynamics.”
The Netherlands is well-known for its quality of life, and English is spoken as a second language. But Océ is active across multiple sites in Europe, Asia and North-America.
“We have a lot of disciplines – and a global engineering team: it’s an international environment,” Hilkens explains. “Our talented engineers and architects have many nationalities: Netherlands, Germany, France, Romania, Canada, Singapore and more.”
“We consider ourselves to be playing in the Champions’ League. You get your players from everywhere, and you want the best. It’s a very competitive industry.”
The focus is on getting the best out of engineers in an open and entrepreneurial environment. They are expected to take ownership of projects, innovating from their own initiative, with autonomy and responsibility to get the job done.
The digital technology of Industry 4.0 also has a vital role to play in Océ’s continued evolution. Already it is central to the development of 3D printing in terms of design, and its influence over Océ’s methods and processes will continue to grow. Meanwhile, collaboration remains at the core of the company.
“We have developed a technology that is able to directly deposit molten metals such as copper, gold and silver using a new proprietary inkjet technology, which we are researching with the university,” Hilkens explains. “It has the potential to be used in the manufacturing of 3D products in the future. We do not know exactly what will result from the research, but our ambition is to find a big application for it.”
“We understand the value of British engineering. If you want to work in the jet stream of global printing technology, among talented, multinational teams of domain architects, software specialists, engineers, and technicians, there’s no better place to be.”