OCP: German Engineering Keeps Pace With OEMs in The Fast-Moving Ink World
- By Lisa Weber
- Oct 01, 2011
Keeping pace with OEMs that continuously roll out new cartridges is no easy task. But for German-based OCP Inks, it is the lifeblood of its business.
“We always try to match an OEM,” explains Werner Rüegger, vice president of OCP USA. “If an OEM develops an ink specifically for a cartridge, then we match them.”
This practice of keeping pace has allowed OCP GmbH to produce more than 300 different types of ink and more than 3,000 tons of ink per year. OCP, with headquarters in Hattingen, Germany, distributes pigment-based ink for use in refilling inkjet cartridges of all OEM brands worldwide. A streamlined production process allows the company to operate with only 52 employees, 20 of whom are devoted to research and development.
OCP focuses on the aftermarket, developing products for major printer brands including Epson, Lexmark and Brother. Its inks have been developed for home offices, wide format and high-speed labeling, and its customers include Cartridge World, for which OCP nonexclusively supplies more than 95 percent of its inks worldwide. Each ink is product-specific and developed for a particular printer cartridge; OCP does not develop universal inks. For example, its latest release was a new set of inks for HP No. 301/No. 61 cartridges used in HPDeskjet 1000/1050/2000/ 2050/ 3000/3050 series printers. Besides the black pigment inks, OCP developed a set of three new dye-based color inks created to guarantee OEM-like printing results.
“All of our ink is made in Germany,” Rüegger explains. “We have a very nice, large manufacturing plant in Europe, and we’re ready for more growth.” The German commitment to quality, Rüegger says, is what has made OCP so successful since it was founded in 1994 by Horst-Gerhard Edelmeier and Dr. Siegfried Koch. Rüegger explains that every finished product is checked for conformance, and every step of the production process — beginning with the receipt of raw material and ending with the delivery of the ink — is carefully supervised and controlled.
OCP also strictly adheres to the production process, guaranteeing the consistency of each different batch. “Our quality is very much what sells our ink,” Rüegger says. “We have multiple customers that we supply hundreds and thousands of pounds of ink (to) without any complaints.” He adds, “Our customer service is very good, definitely here in the U.S. — actually all over the world.”
Offices all around the world help OCP respond to the needs of its customers quickly and efficiently. Most recently, OCP announced a partnership with Sene-OCP Sarl to provide OCP inks to West Africa, including Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo and Benin.
In addition to the focus on quality inks and customer service, OCP also pays close attention to marketing. The company recently won a first-place Recharger Magazine Readers Choice Award at World Expo 2011 for best ad campaign and was nominated in the Quality Leader: Supplies category. “We’ve always tried hard to have good advertising and good marketing,” Rüegger says. “We have a very good company in Germany that does our marketing, and obviously we’re very happy. We put a lot of work in informing our customers using Twitter and Facebook, and it made us come out on top.”
To help customers in their own quality management, OCP’s website offers test charts to allow for specified, repeatable printouts with detailed analysis of line patterns, color and drying timing protocols, demonstrating OCP’s consistency and quality. OCP also offers its customers a “Guide to Quality” that informs customers in several publications during the year about the newest developments OCP and its partners have.
Worldwide distribution is not without its challenges. In fact, the need to distribute inks more quickly and efficiently is what led to the rebirth of OCP USA, based in Spring Hill, Tenn. OCP USA handles distribution across the United States. “The USA company was idling for seven or eight years,” Rüegger explains. Customers in the United States, he said, are more comfortable dealing with a company located on the same continent.
For many years, distance was one of OCP’s biggest challenges in supplying customers in the United States. “If you want to be competitive, you have to have good pricing, and you have to deliver within a couple of days, just like any other ink manufacturer,” Rüegger explains. “That was one of the main reasons OCP USA was taken out of the idling stage. ... We now have close to a million dollars’ worth of inventory in Tennessee.”
Ironically, he noted that it is easier to sell to Canada from Europe, so the German offices handle most Canadian orders.
For some companies, having their main offices and manufacturing in Germany could be a challenge. OCP-USA, though, offers yet another advantage to their customers here. “Our staff in the United States maintains the talent and technical expertise necessary to address any questions or concerns immediately” says Rüegger.
Another challenge for OCP is keeping up with printing companies that require a different ink for every new cartridge. “It used to be HP, Lexmark — they’d develop a cartridge, and it was in multiple models of printers,” Rüegger recalls. “They’d use the same cartridge for a few years. ... In today’s market, every time they come out with a new printer, they have a new cartridge in there. Even if the housing looks the same, it might not use the same ink. That makes it a little more difficult. If they use different ink, it’s more work (for us).”
And just because a new cartridge requires a new ink, that doesn’t necessarily mean the new product will be successful. Occasionally, OCP will spend time and resources developing a new ink for a cartridge that is not successful. “Quite often with a new cartridge, it might not be worthwhile to have an ink made right away,” Rüegger says. “Sometimes you actually develop a new ink, and sometimes the cartridge is not a high-volume product, and you have to get your money back from the work that had to be put in.”
As the nature of the printing industry changes, OCP must continue to change and adapt as well. Though the number of different inks for different cartridges has increased, the total number of customers has decreased. “A lot of midsize companies have closed their doors,” Rüegger points out. “The remaining manufacturers swallowed the smaller ones up and got bigger. There are definitely less potential customers, but some of the remaining customers have tremendous ink needs.”
It’s those needs that will drive growth in the industry for the companies that can meet them with timely, quality products, and OCP certainly intends to be one of the companies leading that growth into the future.
This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Recharger.