Mr. Kentaro Imafuku, Head of Department, Graphic Arts, Fujifilm India shares Fujifilm’s latest offerings and future plan for the Indian customers.
Fujifilm’s journey in the Indian Graphic Art industry has been nothing short of extraordinary. “We have seen steady growth over the years, with customer satisfaction maintained at its highest level,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku, Head of Department, Graphic Arts, Fujifilm India. “Every country or region has different ‘technology adoption lifecycle’. Graphics arts Industry here in India also had to adapt to technological changes quickly. At Fujifilm, we always believed in helping customers make the right technological choices considering market dynamics,” he adds.
Fujifilm started its operations in India in the year 2007. This was the phase when there was a rapid transition from conventional platemaking to digital platemaking. Apart from Graphic arts films, they also offered state-of-the-art CTP equipment, workflow and plates to our customers. Their Violet Plates for publication and newspaper segment have been known for quality and robustness. In the Thermal Plate segment, they offered world-class products. “This has been our primary focus area where we strengthened conventional product portfolio over the years as part of our commitment to the printing industry. There have been changes in the product portfolio with time but overall we have seen a steady growth and Fujifilm has become Graphic Arts industry’s first choice in India,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Fujifilm is cognizant of the changing market trends and consumer behaviour and accordingly has been ramping up our Digital portfolio as well. Few years back Fujifilm introduced a range of Acuity series Printers for Wide format segment with a great success. The company has already achieved around 150 units of Acuity Installations in India. “Taking this journey further, this year we have lined up a range of digital launches in WFIJ, POD, Flexible Packaging segments,” reveals Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Conventional and Digital printing by Fujifilm
These are the two key focus area of Fujifilm. In conventional printing segment, they have seen a steady growth, especially in packaging. Commercial printing market has shown signs of recovery post Covid related lockdowns and will bounce back soon, believes Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
“We will retain our growth in this segment with the launch of environmental friendly products like ‘Processless Offset Plates’ which eliminates processing step completely and also by promoting ZAC processing technology which is our low chemistry offering. We have experienced a great success worldwide with our Flenex Series ‘Water Wash Flexo Plates. In India also, this will be our key focus area,” he continues.
The major growth is expected to come from Digital segment, especially due to post Covid scenario where print runs are becoming shorter and there is a focus on improving efficiency across the printing industry. “We are expanding our digital product portfolio. There will be series of electrophotography and inkjet based product launches this year. We have a very positive outlook of Indian Print Market and combining conventional & digital segments we aim to achieve double-digit growth this year,” he further adds.
In the new segments to be target in near future by Fujifilm in India, they have planned to introduce digital solutions across key segments like the commercial, publishing and label industry.
The pandemic challenge
The print industry is similar to many other traditional industries. At the onset of the pandemic, Fujifilm also faced challenges like many other companies across sectors. “With only essential commodity productions allowed, 15-20% of the staff was functioning. However, as we are witnessing a changing shopping pattern and consumer behaviour, we are expecting the print industry to bounce back soon,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Demand for printed products and digital solutions meeting the demand
Print as an industry has to be sub segmented and then the impact has to be accordingly estimated. While digitization has been on for past many years, trend suggests that Packaging is still growing in double digits in India, says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku. “Also, within the Printing domain, consumer printing demand has definitely taken a hit, while digital print colour page volumes have only grown owing to the current changing consumer behaviours due to changing market dynamics. Digital solutions most definitely have started to play an important role in the market. Production Toner and inkjet machine install base has only grown substantially over the years and their adoption rate is increasing with traditional Print service providers. With advent of W2P, flexible workflow, process automation has led to this change in the market. I believe, for all manufacturers, there is a sweet spot that straddles between Digital and Analogue domain. It’s up to us to crack the code,” he explains.
Key digital solutions to redefine the market sentiment
“Digital” is an umbrella word which is used to define various options that are available to the customer. There are Digital electrophotography and inkjet technologies that cover wide foray of solutions. The format can be from SRA3 to B2 presses in both toner and inkjet space and inkjet solutions in Wide Format space as well. All these technologies cater to primarily, short run printing, variable data printing, quick TAT’s and value added printing of highest quality. They are focused on “Value printing”. Each of these machines have different price points, duty cycles, break even points and applications that picks its own set of customers. “I am happy to share that Fujifilm has products in all these above mentioned segments and we have a lot to offer to the customer,” asserts Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
“The Graphic Arts Industry like other industries is also moving towards the digital era. With the help of technologies like IoT and AI, we are working towards a sustainable business model. It is our aim worldwide to stay at the forefront of efforts to attain the sustainability goal by introducing products that are environmentally, economically, and socially friendly,” he adds.
Sustainability is always at the forefront of Fujifilm’s product development. “At Fujifilm, we believe that innovation must strike a balance between fulfilling customer needs and nature,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku. Talk about any of their products, they have some environmental friendly feature in it. “We have Processless and Low Chemistry Plates for Offset, Water wash (Solvent free) Flexo plates and UV LED Wide Format Printers, which offer energy efficiency. Also our Inkjet and Toner digital press can eliminate plate making, press chemicals, startup waste and therefore offers extraordinary environmental benefits,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku, adding, “All of our products aim to deliver two things i.e. premium quality and stability. This result in ‘resource saving’ which further helps reduce carbon footprint for our customers as well.”
The pandemic effect on the market
“We all know that while commercial printing segment is impacted, packaging segment is one which has still grown. We have focused on our analog plate sales in this particular segment which has yielded dividends. Also in commercial printing space where there is a volume drop on account of Covid 19, there has been a spurge of short run applications. It is in this segment that we intend to position our digital solutions to help them get more value with their customers,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Fujifilm – benchmark platforms for versatile print production
Fujifilm recently announced a new line of products (Acuity Prime, Acuity Ultra R2 and Acuity B1) – these are a combination of flatbeds, roll-to-roll and B1 wide-format systems. These systems, which can handle rigid and flexible media, are benchmark platforms for versatile print production, which provide a wide range of high-value print.
Additionally, Fujifilm is planning to introduce a newer range of products like JetPress 750s in the commercial printing segment and a digital flexible packaging called JetPress FP790 – a web based machine. “Earlier, we had announced – the short run digital printing machine called Revoria, which has a series of toner digital colours and toner digital mono machines. All the above products will be launched in India in phased manner,” informs Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Fujifilm has always been an active participant in all industry-related and other key events. Mr. Kentaro Imafuku feels participation at industry events gives them a chance to showcase their products and reach out to their customers on a different level. The upcoming key event where they plan to showcase their state-of-the-art toner machines is the POD launch event planned sometimes in October 2021. “While we have committed to major trade events in India in December this year and March next year, the participation depends on the pandemic situations allowing for the same,” says Mr. Kentaro Imafuku.
Partnered with Insight Group – the key points
“Our partnership with Insight Group aims to deliver highest quality standards in customer understanding and service support and to provide world-class product & solutions to the printing industry in India,” states Mr. Kentaro Imafuku. “With this collaboration, we aim to foster and create various futuristic platforms in the graphic arts segment beginning this financial year. With our diverse offerings, Insight Group will further enhance our range across its wide network and help strengthen our commitment of transforming the printing segment in India,” he concludes.