Comment by Edoardo Cotichini, Senior Manager Professional Print and Hidetoshi Omo, Head of Centre of Competence KM-1, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe
It’s still hard to believe that less than 12 months ago few people in Europe had ever heard of coronavirus, let alone imagine the disruption to lives and jobs it would cause. Whatever happens in the overall economy at large, the printing industry – digital in particular – will remain resilient and continue to play an important role in our everyday lives.
Any crisis will accelerate trends that were already under way. They include the drive towards automation, online print purchasing and webshops, plus, of course, the unstoppable analogue to digital transition. Accelerated automation will also lead to a complete start-to-finish manufacturing process, as well as a demand for production devices that need fewer and less-skilled operators.
Digital technology gains ground
There is no question that digital technology will continue to gain ground over the traditional litho territory. Commercial printers are being forced to expand their digital print service offerings as traditional offset / flexo volumes erode over time.
In a blog headlined, “Can COVID Accelerate the End of Offset Printing?”, German Sacristan points to some positives in the commercial printing industry, including a surge in many packaging applications. It makes sense to be more targeted and effective when communicating with customers and prospects.
“There is a very strong possibility that this crisis might favour digital in some areas,” he argues. “Print budgets have not disappeared and digital printing supports more holistic and effective communication due to shorter runs (more targeted) and variable data printing.”
Overall, the global print market is shrinking in volume terms – but only slightly. According to research by Smithers, “The Future of Digital vs Offset Printing to 2024”, output measured in billions of A4 prints was 49,973 in 2014 and is forecast to be 49,654 by 2024. Digital is the fastest-growing print segment. It may still only have around 5% market overall penetration in terms of volume, but now boasts 20% of the total global market value.
Market expected to bounce back
The IDC “Out-of-the-Box and about Box thinking: Industrial and Production Printing in the Aftermath of COVID-19” perspective points to how the virus has created opportunities – labels and packaging, décor, signage and textiles among the sectors – in the industrial and production print space. In a separate market forecast, whereas shipments for both toner and inkjet machines dropped dramatically in the middle of the first lockdown across Europe, the market is still expected to bounce back in the next year. However, the overall Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is predicted to go down by 5.2%.
At Konica Minolta, we’re justifiably proud that we remain leader in Western Europe for production cutsheet printer/MFP shipments with 26.1% marketshare. Our flagship top-of-the-range AccurioPress C14000 prints at 140 A4 pages per minute is highlighted because it’s 40% faster than any toner-based device from Konica Minolta. “The presses are targeted at customers that want to expand and streamline their businesses through advanced automation, fewer human touchpoints, and higher productivity with tangible effect leading to increased, high-quality output with less waste,” states the report. Other developments in the toner segment for Konica Minolta included the launch of the AccurioPrint C750i press that provides full integration with cloud services and is focused on the graphic arts sector, plus the unveiling of the AccurioPress C4080 Series. Both are also important pillars in our expanding portfolio of production printers.
Production inkjet the real growth for digital printing
In 2021, the market see some other important announcements from Konica Minolta that will reinforce our market leading position in cut-sheet production. However, there is no question that inkjet is the real growth for digital printing. Without a doubt, production inkjet will further continue to be recognised as a viable and advantageous solution for many high-end applications.
The considerable market potential was behind the decision to launch our AccurioJet digital colour UV inkjet sheetfed B2+ production press. Since the official commercial launch at drupa in 2016 it has become a natural bridge between offset and digital. Now the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1e version unveiled in the summer of 2020 continues this driving force behind the trend of changeover from offset printing towards inkjet.
Developments for the AccurioJet KM-1e include the ability to print on transparent, metallic and coloured media and improvements to the thin coated paper stability. There is no need to use digital stocks or expensive coatings. The AccurioJet KM-1e also benefits from Konica Minolta’s patented Dot Freeze Technology™, which provides even better colour stability and consistency. The end result is instantly dry, perfected prints.
Digital embellishment a key growth driver
Digital embellishment will also continue to be a key growth driver in the production printing market and at the same time a profitable way for print service providers, commercial and in-house printers to set themselves apart from the competition. UV spot coating in defined areas can be used to enhance four-color digital and offset prints with exceptional 3D haptics. In order to benefit customers in a single-source partnership approach, we have strengthened our partnership with MGI Digital Technology (MGI) to expand the cooperation between our two companies.
As a global technology provider with a local service structure, we still see significant opportunities in the years ahead for digital printing with our toner and inkjet technology within commercial and industrial print markets.
Hope for a return to a new normal
The ongoing Covid-19 situation has created unprecedented challenges, but there is hope for a return to a ‘new normal’ with vaccines now on the horizon. Our highest priority is always to make sure that our colleagues, customers and all their families stay safe and healthy. And while the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt on a global basis, we have taken a decision to withdraw from exhibiting at shows for the foreseeable future. As always, we will continue to ensure that our supplies and services to our customers will remain constant and secure into 2021 and beyond.
Continuing to build an online presence
But we will continue to help shape ideas for our customers in a partnership approach – no matter the ‘communication channel’, whether face to face or virtually. While we recognise the benefits of meeting face to face, in the current climate we will continue to build our online presence, and this will probably include more virtual showrooms that hold many features for an interactive exploration of their manifold product offers in printing.
Whatever the future holds, our commitment remains to deliver the best possible service to all our clients. Even against the odds, we will never waver, with health and safety always our number one priority.
We will always provide practical support to our customers as we continue to help shape ideas around the world, around the clock with our dedicated approach to customers in a collaborative, partnership approach.
You can find out more about our Professional Printing here on the Konica Minolta website.
About Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd
Konica Minolta’s innovations help businesses to shape the future, today, changing the way people conduct business and use technology to work smarter, faster and better. As a leading Smart Data and Digital IT Services company, we meet the changing needs of customers with our Digital Print, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality solutions.
As a provider of comprehensive IT services, Konica Minolta also delivers consultancy and services to optimise business processes with intelligent workflow automation, and implements solutions in the field of IT infrastructure and IT security as well as cloud environments. With regard to its office printing solutions, ‘IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Print Transformation 2020 Vendor Assessment’ stated that Konica Minolta is ‘recognised globally as a leader in print transformation’. As a strong partner for the professional printing market, Konica Minolta offers business consulting, state-of-the-art technology and software and has established itself as the production printing market leader for more than a decade in Europe (InfoSource). Its Business Innovation Centre in London and four R & D laboratories in Europe enable Konica Minolta to bring innovation forward by collaborating with its customers as well as academic, industrial and entrepreneurial partners. For its innovative service approach that complements their devices perfectly, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab PaceSetter Award for Serviceability and Support 2020/2021’ from Keypoint Intelligence.
Konica Minolta’s solutions are proven to improve quality, reduce cost, eradicate risk, increase accuracy and streamline business processes. Recognising there are no two businesses the same, we pride ourselves on our customer partnerships and tailor our solutions to our customer needs, giving them the competitive edge they need to remain at the forefront of their markets.
Combining our market leading, award winning and easy to integrate technological platforms, with our strategic partnerships, business solutions and services portfolio, Konica Minolta is continually improving quality, reducing cost, eradicating risk, increasing accuracy and streamlining business processes for our customers. Our strategy has our customers at its core. With strong and mutually beneficial customer partnerships, our aim is to achieve mutual sustainable growth through technological innovation – giving shape to our customers’ ideas. We bring flexible solutions that not only meet our customer expectations, but exceed them, time after time.
Part of the global Konica Minolta Group, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd is headquartered in Basildon, Essex and operates out of 10 offices across the UK, employing over 750 people.
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