Page 24 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 24

Japan technology
Creating new value –
Konica Minolta
The drive to give concrete reality to ambitious idea is part of the DNA of Konica Minolta. The offspring of two venerable Japanese camera and film companies (Konica was founded in 1873; Minolta in 1928), it has worked its way to the front ranks of printing solutions by a combination of innovative invention and strategic mergers. Its obvious success was on display at IGAS.
There is plenty of disparagement about the supposedly oppressed Japanese salary men but Toshitaka Uemura, GM industry print business and Koji Asaka, assistant manager, Konica Minolta,
are living proof of a vastly different dynamic. When I met them at the Konica Minolta
IGAS stand, they proved to be fine examples of all that’s best about Japanese corporate
life. Dedicated and loyal, they are not only deeply versed in the ethos and history of the company but also thoroughly familiar with all aspects of contemporary printing technology.
They make the point that Konica Minolta’s connection with inkjet goes back 20 years to when it first started making textile printers.
Commercial and industrial printing is now one of the company’s key areas of ambition and focus. According to Uemura-san, his goal is to triple the print division's revenue to $600 million by 2021.
There’s no doubt that much of the ambition rests on the Accurio KM1 flagship, a B2 inkjet press that is the first real contender to the
HP Indigo dominance. Konica Minolta has two already installed in Australia. The press is a completely new design, built from the ground up. But there are other presses and production equipment in the portfolio too. Pursuing growth through strategic acquisition Konica Minolta has taken a controlling interest in French-based MGI. The MGI digital embellishment JetVarnish 3D engine was prominent on the stand.
Above: Konica Minolta Australian and Japanese colleagues (pictured l to r) David Cascarino, Toshitaka Uemura, Koji Asaka and Anthony ‘AJ’ Jackson.
Watch out for a re-worked version of
the Accurio Label press in the next few months, moving away from its BizHub-box appearance while still sticking with toner.
It is the technology the market wants, says Uemura-san, who was part of the planning team. He reckons the inkjet label sector
is very well served but there’s a gap in the market where toner works best in terms
of cost and quality. And he gives every impression of knowing about what he speaks. 21
Horizon’s Australian connection
It came as quite a surprise
that the largest exhibition stand at IGAS was not one of the big global corporations but Horizon, the digital finishing company from Biwako near Kyoto. Not that the family- owned company doesn’t sell its equipment around the world. Named after its founder and owner, Hori-san, the company is known to Australian and New Zealand printers through its association with Currie Group. David Currie counts the courteous Japanese gentleman as a long-time friend.
Right: David Currie was able to promote two of his prized brands on the Horizon stand at IGAS.
Tracking David Currie among the aisles of IGAS wasn’t easy. He has many interests. I was keen to meet him because David, if anyone, can lay claim to the title of the Australian IGAS- san. He has being coming to the show for 31 years, ever since he joined up with Hori-san as exclusive distributor for Horizon products in Australia and New Zealand.
Mind you, Horizon equipment was everywhere at IGAS. It seems that most digital printing equipment manufacturers use the brand, some going to the trouble of rebadging as OEM, but most happy to add on
a Stitchliner or Folder in the original colours. The jam-packed exhibition space was filled with guillotines, binders and collators, all geared to digital printing production.
It’s a testament to Horizon’s early recognition of the shift towards digital printing, which has given it an impressive lead in most sectors of finishing, a clear case of the industry following the creator of the best solution.
The stand had numerous new pieces of equipment such as a VAC-L600H collator and new standalone, paper jogger, PJ200. However, most interest is in linking these elements together to form production lines. One took paper from a roll through to saddle stitched books without intervention. Add on a digital printing press and it is a complete factory. Another production line was geared to produce the almost mythical ‘book of one,’ proving that the digital technology is there anytime the market wants to catch up.
No matter what the digital printing market demands, it seems likely that Horizon will be there before it with a solution. 21

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