Mr Tai Nizawa, MD, Konica Minolta India shares the latest business approach, customer relationships, technological superiority of their products, future strategy, new launches and much more in this exclusive interview with PRESSIdeas.
Konica Minolta Business Solutions India is celebrating its 11th Anniversary of India operations and has emerged as the leader in the Production Printing market segment in the last decade i.e. 2011-2020, with more than 50% of the market share. Mr. Tai Nizawa, MD, Konica Minolta India considers the decade long leadership as the biggest milestone achieved yet.
Digital has obvious advantages over ‘traditional’ by eliminating many processes typical of traditional set-ups – helping reducing and cutting waste. “Digital has obvious advantages and as we see Covid-19 has reduced the overall demand in Commercial Print segment, a sizeable part of it has shifted towards Digital,” says Mr. Nizawa. “It has only happened because outputs on Digital are fast with negligible wastages. We are witnessing an increased interest of Commercial Printers in the Digital Printing for optimizing their print requirements,” he adds.
Understandably, Digital Printing has obvious benefits over ‘traditional’ by way of its unique capabilities, especially in more advanced as well as progressive markets. With quite a big number of successful Digital Printing businesses, India has been reaping these benefits for a long time. “The advantages of Digital Printing, I am sure, are very well known. We know that with Digital Printing various design possibilities with full colour and gradation is possible – it enables printing without the limitation of colours, makes possible quick delivery, reduces colour matching time, has low cost of ownership, is profitable in small volume production, drives high added value and above all it is Environment friendly,” summarizes Mr. Nizawa.
With goods moving on ever-complex supply chain network, obviously Digital Technologies are burdened with new responsibilities, for example, in track and trace, authentication and supply chain management etc. “We have always believed in ‘Giving shape to ideas’ and with that approach we have always brought products and solutions which are future ready. Our product line is very friendly in all production environments; in fact we have many installations which are part of the production assembly lines. We have solutions to support the customers to authenticate, including Track & Trace solutions to integrate with the customers supply chain,” explains Mr. Nizawa.
KM’s strategy for next two years and Biz-out-of-the-box way campaign
“With the latest numbers of the GDP growth, massive vaccination drives pan India and the steps taken by Indian government, we are pretty sure the way we are progressing we should see the state of normalcy very soon,” says Mr. Nizawa.
“The future of printing is Digital itself. Personalization – with this we see many new avenues opening in terms of short-run print embellishments on packaging – small quantity of book publishing from budding authors and variable data printing of QR codes for various digital payment options are some of the promising segments of Digital. Digitization of processes is happening in every field. Our belief is that the process which can be digitized shall be controlled by automation of the processes,” he continues.
Konica Minolta’s strategy for the next two years is quite simple. It is to bring more automation in the various processes in the Printing, from pre-press to post press with prime objective of bringing more efficiencies by reducing the touch points involved in the processes of printing. They have introduced various products and productivity solutions to manage pre-press, manage colour across devices/printing machines, manage job, manage device and web-2-print etc. “As a manufacturer the change in the situation (due to Covid-19) has made us more agile and flexible and we have adapted fast to support the changing requirements of the customers. Some of the segments of printing during these difficult situations have continued to provide good print volumes and to some extent have helped the customers in Labels & Packaging. Situations are not permanent, Covid19 is a good learning for all of us,” says Mr. Nizawa.
Biz-out-of-the-box by Konica Minolta is a modern intranet solution that enables companies – no matter their size – to build a customized digital workplace based on Microsoft 365, improving collaboration, employee engagement and productivity. Providing gradual customization services depending on a customer’s budget, the solution is available both as an “out-of-the-box” template for small and medium-sized businesses for up to 300 users, as well as a “full custom design solution” for medium and large enterprises (101 to 20,000 employees).
AccurioPress and AccurioPrint – for customers who want to expand Digital offerings
“We have recently launched AccurioPrint C4065 and AccurioPress C4070 series for the customers who want to expand the digital offerings and also for those who want to start fresh with digital printing. The USP of the products is the flexibility to do variety of applications in a small engine. The machine is suitable for all the segments for small print bureau to commercial printers,” says Mr. Nizawa explaining about these recent launches by Konica Minolta.
These products along with other solutions by Konica Minolta are being presented digitally through video demonstrations in absence of possibilities of trade shows and business events with personal presence due to Covid-19.
“With Covid19 most the things are being done online, like through live feed from showrooms etc. We are happy that the customers are also accepting these flexibilities. We would love to do or participate in the events, shows but not planning immediately in the interest of safety for all,” says Mr. Nizawa.
Digital Printing – present and future
Digital Printing is more capable of catching up with present market trends when compared to other processes. “The future is Digital and with low ownership cost, high productivity and higher ROI, the capabilities are endless. Since we have seen short-run jobs catching up, the available option is only Digital,” reasons Mr. Nizawa.
“Digital complements the traditional process of printing. Majority of our customers, to my belief, understand the long-term benefits of embracing Digital, but we still see inefficiencies in some of the jobs being printed which can be done more efficiently with Digital. The technology has advanced over the period and reached to a good acceptable level in terms of quality and flexibility. In the coming times we foresee more digitization happening. The customers who adapt to the changing environment and demand from the print buyers shall also have higher chances of growth and continuity in their businesses,” he envisages.
Konica Minolta machine – the competitive advantage
“India had always been the focus country for the Konica Minolta Japan Headquarters. The excitement level for the Indian market and Indian customers has always been on the top priority. We are proud that many of our Indian customers have been delivering great jobs to their end customers. Recently, one of our customers from south India has been felicitated on the global platform for the admirable job he delivered with print embellishments on the wedding album and the box using the solutions provided by Konica Minolta,” Mr. Nizawa is all praises for Indian market and customers.
The continuous learning and keeping the ‘customer first’ approach has been one of the key factors for the strengthening & acceptance of Konica Minolta worldwide. The company takes the feedbacks very seriously and works on the same to deliver the best value to the investments made by the customers. In addition, the R&D team visits the customers across the globe and India being one of their major markets, they regularly visit them to seek their feedback on existing products and aspirations from the future ones. “The result has been some of the inline devices we have brought like IQ-501 for inline colour stability and verification, validation of VDP, inline finishing like cutting, creasing and binding. Some of the processes for which the customer had to depend on other offline devices can be automated to get higher productivity,” informs Mr. Nizawa.
“At Konica Minolta we believe in delivering value and making long term partnerships which have been possible only through maintaining transparency with our customers. This is very much visible as we have been trusted by our customers – who only could have helped Konica Minolta to be in a leading position with more than 50% market share in the last decade,” acknowledges Mr. Nizawa.
Konica Minolta – another name of quality
According to Mr. Nizawa, quality, productivity, flexibility, automation and consistency are 5 main offerings which come bundled with the Konica Minolta presses. The high quality presses are technologically strong and feature advanced capabilities such as in line automation modules that not only help minimize human intervention but also achieve consistent prints sheet after sheet.
The manufacturing process of the machines also follows the strict adherence to the quality control parameters before they reach the customers place. With a big R&D facility in Japan with more than 1500 people working on various aspects of the product development, Konica Minolta develops all the products considering the details collected from various customers across the globe, their challenges and their aspirations from the new products.
AccurioLabel 230 – an amazing label printing workhorse
AccurioLabel 230 has been a very successful product for Konica Minolta worldwide and very soon they will be completing 1000 installs. It is one of the fastest growing segments for Konica Minolta. In India, there are already more than 10 machines installed and running. “It is quite a popular machine and there is an increased demand from the customers to shift their short-run jobs on Digital. The other factor which is driving the demand is the demand for automation using variable bar code/ QR code’s etc,” says Mr. Nizawa.
Supply chain is the core strength
Print is a way of communication with printing present all around us in various forms. It’s more art than the science, which actually goes behind it, says Mr. Nizawa. Konica Minolta has introduced the technologies to embellish the Print. Digital technology helps to enhance the value of document for as small a job as a ‘Single Print’. The users can embellish with UV & foil. The new age designers are crossing boundaries to make the documents look stunning. “We have this technology for Small Printers to Big Commercial Printer, Label Printers and Packaging Printers,” he says.
In addition, Konica Minolta has a very robust supply chain system. The system supports different requirements of the customers including for consumables. “So far, during our last 11 years of experience, we have not had any challenges in the supply chain,” declares Mr. Nizawa. “During the current Covid-19 period, there have been some disruptions because of the movement of goods across countries, but the system is robust enough to manage. Moreover, with the automation in the import processes, we are also saving time,” he adds.
Circular economy, green initiatives and Konica Minolta
Konica Minolta has been dedicatedly saving and conserving the resources available. In all its products it tries to reduce the waste from the devices, for example, it collects the used toner bottles and old machines from the customers and hands them over to the e-waste management companies to properly handle the same. The recent “Prayaas” programme is another step towards environmental friendly initiatives by the company. In this programme, the company would be planting more than 1000 trees in the coming months across India. Konica Minolta customers are the major stakeholders in the project.
“As an OEM, our target is to reduce the CO2 emission by 80% compared to 2005 levels; aprox. 40% of the toner bottles are made from recycled milk bottles; and aprox. 88% of the office machines’ outer cover is made of recycled materials. As a company, we have been globally recognized by various agencies for our numerous green initiatives,” says Mr. Nizawa.
Packaging, Personalization and Digital
“Pandemic has brought lot of changes in the life of the people and our consumption behaviour. Lots of processes have been digitized and with restricted movement, the demand for the print has also reduced. Some of the segments have been badly impacted like Education and Textile etc. Hopefully the future will change a bit, although it may not be the same as before soon. The demand for Print will come back as these segments return back to normal. There are many unexplored areas like personalization that hold promise for PSPs of tomorrow. Personalisation is a way of bringing more attention of the intended receiver of the information. Print is a medium of communication. Information which can be shared Digitally shall move to Digital sooner or later. However, documents shall continue to be created and we foresee the increase in the creation of number of documents. Publishing it either Online or Print shall depend upon the consumer of the information. For e.g. Utility Bills – they continue to be generated and the numbers are increasing including the flexibility to the consumer to pay and receive the information Online & in the form of Print.”
“Another key area is Packaging which is as much important for the branding as it is for the safety of the goods to be delivered to the customers. We expect digitization to increase in this segment also with processes like Print-On-Demand, or manufacturing efficiencies,” says Mr. Nizawa.
“At Konica Minolta every press sold is a unique business case which is made for all the customers as per their requirements. We try to offer the best solution to each customer. We do hand hold many new entrants in the market in various ways to provide them with latest market trends, studies and ideas for new business applications so that they can run their businesses in the most profitable ways. And, with their growth, we also grow!” explains Mr. Nizawa the pricing and quality by Konica Minolta.
“The future way of providing the solutions at the best possible price shall remain the same for us. It’s always about the value which comes with that price for the end customers. The prime objective of the pricing is that our customers should be able to make profits and justify the investments in the products from Konica Minolta,” he continues.
“We are flexible enough to fit in all the price brackets with one solution or the other to suite the demands of our customers,” sums up Mr. Nizawa.
“Times are changing and we expect some of the business practices to change because of the COVID-19 and it would also have effects on the Print Industry. It is too early to predict with the changing scenarios till we have some long-lasting cure for the disease,” infers Mr. Nizawa.
“Notwithstanding all this, our focus to support the customers has gone stronger because of Covid-19 and it has made us more agile and flexible. We have also introduced some of the digitization concepts of requesting for consumables/ service request and service call report etc. All the processes are digitized and they have improved the overall efficiency in the service process management,” divulges Mr. Nizawa.
During the recent hard times, all the businesses have suffered, and Konica Minolta is no exception. “Thankfully we have managed the difficult situation. We are seeing a positive trend in the market slowly as the businesses are coming back. Although we have still not reached to the same levels as FY19 but things look positive and we are very optimistic,” affirms Mr. Nizawa.
Internet is a very strong platform of communication and Mr. Nizawa sees its use to increase especially with the supply chain integrating with real time information. This he says will become a major contributor of exchange of information and doing business. “We would encourage our customers to learn and adapt to the new changes to be future ready,” he recommends.
“We plan to get through this difficult time by supporting our customers to get to their levels of production. We consider ourselves as silent partners to the customers’ businesses. We grow only if our customers grow. It’s a chain and we would like to play an active role to stimulate the growth,” concludes Mr. Nizawa, wishing everyone in the industry to remain safe and healthy.