Variable Data & Digital printing

Digital printing trends in 2017

Balaji Rajagopalan, executive director- technology, channels & international distributor operations, Xerox India, shares the technology trends for 2017 and Xerox’s strategy this year. While the printing business across the globe is stagnant, India’s printing industry is growing significantly. The digital printing industry especially is seeing significant transformation with new technologies and innovative applications providing cost-effective and customized solutions. The office printing segment will continue to grow and there will be an increased demand of MFPs as companies look for innovative solutions to simplify business processes. We shall continue to see accelerated movement towards more integrated work flow solutions.

Additionally, with mobile printing, cloud, advanced security features etc. becoming more popular, we will see more such application development becoming a focus area for companies in the coming times.

Such apps will allow users to control their MFPs remotely and transmit documents to fax, email and cloud hosted services like Google Drive and Dropbox.

Key highlights of our company during the year 2016

This year, from a technology business perspective, as part of our long-term growth plan in India, we expanded our presence in the tier 2 & 3 cities in the country. We have already developed products that consume less power, ranging from 10 – 70 per cent over that of competitive products in that range, offering us tremendous scope to tap the emerging opportunity.

Additionally, we have strengthened our focus on SMB business segment with the launch of Xerox Docucentre SC2020 and ConnectKey enabled iSeries products besides continuing to extend our Managed Print Services to SMBs through our channel partners.

In the production printing space, we have also launched inkjet printers like Brenva HD and Trivor which are equipped with high-end print capabilities such as Smart print heads, Inline density optimization, Ink estimation tool, Object-oriented colour management system etc. at Drupa this year. Brenva HD is one of its kind cut sheet inkjet press which is an amalgamation of cut sheet flexibility at inkjet price points. We maintained focus on our entry to high end digital press segment, be it for C60/C70, Versant series, iGen5 and Color Press 1000i and have not only received a good number of orders but a great feedback from the market.

Roadmap or strategy for the year 2017

In 2016, we had launched multifunction devices like Xerox Docucentre SC2020 and ConnectKey enabled iSeries which were equipped with features that meet the needs of the Indian Enterprise and SMB markets. And also continued push on digital printing segment which is a key growth driver for us.

We gear up for 2017 with some more exciting product launches that will revolutionize the A3 printing market. We are looking at further strengthening our focus on the Office business segment and are looking to aggressively tap into market space where we know we have a scope to improve and consolidate our market presence.

Solutions and digital printing will continue to be a key focus area for the next year. Also, we are going to focus on maintaining our leadership in certain market segments like entry colour to mid production segments.

We will also expand our Managed Print Services (MPS) value proposition to wider segments in the country through our strong channel partner network. This will allow us to expand beyond the top corporate accounts to fast growing and large potential SMB businesses.

SATO acquires inline digital printing leader DataLase

SATO, a leading global provider of Auto-ID solutions that empowers workforces and streamlines operations acquired a 100% share of UK-based inline digital printing (IDP) leader, DataLase.

The two companies first teamed in October 2015 to form the strategic partnership SpeciaLase to introduce the game-changing DataLase IDP technology in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. SATO held a 33.3% share of DataLase prior to this acquisition.

The DataLase IDP solution is the only one of its kind and enables high-speed, fast turnaround printing which is ideal for packaging and product customization and personalization. IDP technology allows printing of variable information to enable real-time marketing to maximize brand owner and consumer value. The system is inkless at the point of printing, thus removing the need for consumables in the production environment at the point of fulfilment.

The acquisition optimizes synergies from the DataLase IDP solution and SATO’s on-site commitment and global network to deliver financial savings, environmental benefits and enhanced marketing capabilities for end users. Application in total track and trace solutions is expected to provide benefits for customers in numerous high-volume, fast-moving industries including manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceuticals and food and beverage.

In 2016, DataLase increased its strategic partnership portfolio across inks and coatings, substrates and print technology to deliver IDP product and packaging solutions for brands such as Ricoh, Xerox, Mundi, KBA-Metronic, Macsa ID, and Pulse Inks. Also in 2016, global print and publishing solutions provider Flint Group became the first licensee of Variprint, a revolutionary DataLase technology that enables real time messaging and variable data on packaging with a selection of monochrome colors.

Konica Minolta’s AccurioPro offers endless operational benefits

With Print service providers (PSP) aggressively engaged in upgrading as well as adding new services and applications to cater to the next generation demands of customers, Workflow automation has become pivotal for seamless and streamlined business operations.

Furthermore printing businesses are also looking for more scalable solutions to meet the varied demands of customers with limited resources. Citing the prevailing scenario in the printing segment, Konica Minolta, the global leader in MFPs and industrial printing solutions has unveiled AccurioPro software platform, offering end to end production automation and integrating the best features of in house and cloud-based software.

The solution is specifically tailored to be modular (pay only for the components needed), flexible (integrates with other common graphic arts software), scalable (supports small-to-large operations), and comprehensive (features beyond prepress to incorporate colour management and finishing).

Workflow automation also helps businesses in better structuring their operations resulting in enhanced outputs and revenue generation.

The solution comprises of three key pillars: JDF interoperability for seamless compatibility with existing commercial workflows like Agfa Apogee, Kodak Prinergy, and Screen Equios; AccurioPro Conductor for centralised and intelligent output management; and AccurioPro Cloud Eye for remote management and administration of colour quality and standards.

Ricoh strengthens its print production workflow with acquisition of Avanti

Leading digital printing machinery manufacturer Ricoh has acquired Avanti Computer Systems Limited, a leading provider of Print MIS (Management Information System) targeted for the production print market. This acquisition enables Ricoh to further expand the value its production print workflow delivers to customers, as well as to help improve management efficiency and productivity of customers in the production printing market.

In July 2013, Ricoh made a strategic investment in Toronto-based Avanti, which established the foundation for this acquisition. Award winning Avanti Slingshot solution is one of the most advanced JDF-certified Print MIS available in the market today. JDF is the industry standard for process automation in pre-press, press and post-press.

This latest Ricoh acquisition continues Ricoh's dedication to providing customers with an unmatched, best-of-breed portfolio that addresses the needs of the production print market, today and tomorrow. Previously, Ricoh acquired MarcomCentral (formerly known as PTI Marketing Technologies Inc.), in December 2014. The acquisition has successfully enhanced the value of Ricoh's Web to Print, Marketing Asset Management, and Variable Data Printing offerings. With the addition of Avanti, the Ricoh portfolio is now able to cover the entire production workflow, including Print MIS. Ricoh is aiming to link the Avanti system not only with the RICOH Pro Series, but also with other company's products, for providing customers with wider solutions.

In addition to production workflow, Ricoh has started to offer marketing workflow services, aimed to further print shops’ value proposition to their end customers. By collaborating with its partner companies, Ricoh also aims to form an industry-leading ecosystem that will continuously provide customers with increased value-added services.

Konica Minolta looks at 2017 as year for further market expansion

Launching new workflow solutions at PRINTPACK India 2017
Despite some shortfalls due to demonetisation over a few months, the year 2016 was a good period for Konica Minolta with a lot of expectations being met and the company is looking ahead to further expand its market in 2017. In an exclusive talk to Print & Publishing, Kuldeep Malhotra, vice president, sales division, Konica Minolta Business Solutions India Pvt Ltd, points out some key areas of development in terms of new products and market expansion. The pinch of demonetisation has slowed down business in all parameters, affecting almost every single segment of the printing industry. Konica Minolta feels it too! “Among our clients being affected largely by the demonetisation are those copy shops as well as the commercial printers,” says Kuldeep Malhotra, adding that they have observed a record decline in volume of productions at these establishments. Root cause, according to him, was due to insufficient cash flow in the market during the festive seasons, such as Christmas and New Year.

When enquired about the current investment mood of their customers, Kuldeep explains that people in the industry are now keeping their investment plans on hold, but not totally withdrawn. “No doubt, they are waiting for the market to get settled down. Hopefully the government will recuperate the situation by Q4,” he perceives, monitoring the fact that the market is now recovering bit by bit.

Gaining new momentum

Kuldeep MalhotraKonica Minolta has recently penetrated into the industrial printing segment in a stronger manner with the introduction of new production machines, such as bizhub PRESS C71cf, a digital production label press. “When we look at the growth perceiving in this segment over the last nine months, it is found that Konica Minolta has achieved more than 15 percent market share,” mentions Kuldeep. He says the C Series production presses from the company have increasingly been adopted all over the country. “bizhub PRESS C71cf is now increasingly demanded in the photo album market, which is a segment where people still keep investing, despite the demonetisation.”

“The fact is that when we compare Konica Minolta production machines to their market competitors, our machines are comparatively low in investment; users easily get ROI just within 16-18 months. I think this is the best part of our machines and a big reason why people keep increasingly looking at our products,” remarks Kuldeep. He further says more than a dozen of leading label printers in India have been impressed by the unique features of the recently introduced bizhub PRESS C71cf.

Fresh impetus in 2017

bizhub PRESS C71cf Apart from the company’s robust presence in metros, Konica Minolta is gearing up for a market expansion, eyeing fresh footprints in tier II and III cities. “Our internal team in coordination with the regional partners has been aggressively working to expand our footprints in the regional domains which we have not yet properly penetrated,” mentions Kuldeep, adding that they are planning to strengthen the footprints of their channel partners countrywide.

MGI JETvarnishPRINPACK India 2017, according to Kuldeep, will be a platform to present the company’s complete range of industrial presses, portraying a fresh impetus for innovations Konica Minolta could reveal for the year 2017. The showcase from the company at the expo will exclusively include its print finishing system, MGI JETvarnish, which is a high-end 3D digital spot UV coater, now being installed in three leading printing firms in India.

To be introduced new at PRINTPACK India 2017 from Konica Minolta is a set of workflow solutions. Referring to the new launch, Kuldeep says big copy shops and commercial printers these days are in need for good workflow solutions designed for perfect colour control, cloud computing, web-to-print, etc. In response to this, Konica Minolta has set to unleash the ideal solutions at PRINTPACK India 2017 to be organised from February 04-08 at India Expo Centre, Greater Noida, Delhi-NCR.

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