Whether the buzzword or phrase is transformation, diversification, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, just in time production or print on demand – what’s clear is that automation and software are central drivers and growing in importance. Using real-time data to track and improve production is becoming more common, soon it will be the norm.
In the months and years to come, customers will take a broader view on these topics, engage with them, and to analyse what effects these may have in the future on their current business model.
Some commentators have suggested that print is struggling to find its rightful place in the marketing mix and will continue to decline. At Konica Minolta, we see it differently. Successful printing companies continue to embrace the new opportunities coming alongside digitalisation. Print and digital do co-exist, they complement each other, and the most successful companies make use of both.
Forecasts by Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends show that in western Europe production digital printing colour volumes are now larger than mono and will continue to rise. In mid-volume colour, where Konica Minolta is market leader, the outlook in the report is said to be ‘positive with higher growth expected’. Growth for high and heavy production also remains high.
This analysis also mirrors our own market perception. It is one of the reasons why we move into 2020 full of confidence following the launch of our new AccurioPress C14000 series (140 pages per minute), our first foray into the high-volume printing segment. The digital toner presses, which also include the C12000 machine, benefit from advanced automation, fewer touchpoints and higher productivity with less waste.
Heavy production driven by growth in the B2 format is referred to by research consultants as a ‘top trend’ in the European marketplace. Our AccurioJet KM-1 B2+ UV digital inkjet press has been referred to as the “Swiss army knife” of the printing industry because it has so many uses that can actively create new business opportunities and make inkjet the reality for the print and packaging sectors. Customers across Europe this year who have invested in the AccurioJet KM-1 include Colourfast Financial, Tierps Truckeri and druckpartner Druck- und Medienhaus.
Factors that contribute to the overall rise in the colour digital printing market are numerous, with software increasingly important. As one example, our Augmented Reality App genARate has been praised for helping to shape future thinking of brand managers, ambassadors, creatives and designers as customers continue to expand into new markets.
Future important market drivers will continue to include more targeted marketing, lean manufacturing, sustainability, and variable data printing. And that’s one of the reasons why we unveiled Markomi in 2019, our highly flexible and low-cost multi-channel marketing platform that helps customers develop profitable, added-value campaigns for themselves and their customers. Let’s not also forget that brand owners increasingly want to add value through innovative decorative and tactile elements within the printed piece, which is where the inherent nature of digital print brings distinct advantages.
In this regard, technology such as the digital embellishment systems of our strategic partner MGI is a ready-made opportunity for label converters and commercial printers to offer highly creative services and win new business. For example, MGI’s JETvarnish 3DWeb digital enhancement press for labels and flexible packaging produces in-line flat and 3D spot UV coating, 3D embossed varnish textures, and flat and embossed foil.
As we enter another decade, we look forward to continuing to grow our presence within industrial print markets that continue to move further towards digital technology. Despite the overall decline in print manufacturing, markets in central and eastern European countries have shown growth. In Romania last year we saw a wave of investments in JETvarnish machines from Konica Minolta – all backed by Konica Minolta world-class support and service. Customers are using the machines all kinds of applications including books, photo-books and magazine printing.
The new decade heralds another important digital toner printer milestone for Konica Minolta with the 500th installation of our AccurioLabel label printer. It’s been an incredible success story, particularly when you think that we only began in the label printing segment after trials just over four years ago.
However, it’s not just about the technology or the quality – that’s a given. In a truly collaborative approach as a relationship-orientated company, we actively source expertise from customers, partners and brands owners for inkjet and toner-based systems. Around the world, around the clock – we help shape ideas for our customers. Our dedicated market approach is working. We are rethinking together with our customers what is possible in commercial printing.
 Western Europe Production Printing Market Forecast: 2018-2023, Ralf Schlözer, July 2019, Keypoint Intelligence