Innovation and influence

It is just six weeks since Sue Threlfo stepped into the top job at Konica Minolta’s production print business, as general manager she is responsible for both production printing and industrial printing.

With margins tight, and the number of cutsheet units sold to Australian printers slowing as the industry continues to recalibrate, running the production print arm of Konica Minolta in the intensely competitive print world is not for the faint-hearted.

Threlfo though is no stranger to the industry, she has spent the best part of her working life in print, and is well known to Australian commercial printers. Her first task in the new role was to take all Konica Minolta’s direct sales staff and dealers to the kick off conference to the Hunter Valley, the perfect opportunity to share her near three decades worth of experience. She also announced the the opening of the 2018 customer National Specialised Print Awards, the winner of which will be announced in October. She says, “Now in its third year, the NSPA competition continues to go from strength to strength and is a great opportunity for our customers to showcase their extraordinary print.”

Konica Minolta has rung up a host of successes since it entered the commercial print industry back in 2005, with its cutsheet digital printers making major inroads into the market. Franchises, copyshops, inplants and commercial printers have all installed what was at first an alternative, and then a mainstream printing system, as the company’s A3 printers helped spell the end of the A3 offset market, thanks to the quality, the productivity, the inline finishing and of course the price – print businesses could create a host of print work at a fraction of the price of offset, with inline finishing, and able to be operated by someone with virtually no skills or experience, and certainly not a four year apprenticeship.

The company is much more though than the developer of toner-based cutsheet digital printers, it is one of the world’s leading developers of inkjet print heads, and is one of the world’s biggest textile printing systems developers with its Nassenger range.

In the commercial print space the company has launched its Industrial Printing Division, with David Cascarino at its head in Australia, now reporting to Threlfo.

She says, “We launched industrial print 18 months ago as the company was developing innovative new solutions for commercial printers.

“We have the new B2 inkjet press AccurioJet-KM1, the MGI JetVarnish digital embellishing system and the digital label press C71cf. We recognised that these new solutions needed specialist support staff as they are all niche technologies for niche applications, which is why we set up the Industrial Print Division.”

Konica Minolta certainly seems ot have stolen a march on its competitors with its Industrial Print Division, Threlfo says, “We are seeking to leverage the immense Konica Minolta R+D investment on technology developments for commercial printers into new technologies that offer new opportunities. The Industrial Print Division is supplying solutions that are able to provide printers with a competitive edge in what is a highly competitive market.”

Threlfo says, “These solutions take us into a whole new realm, and take commercial printers there too. The KM-1 B2 inkjet press will enable printers to produce top quality short run work with variable data if required and no set-up times, and at a much higher speed than the cutsheet toner systems. When we launched it at PacPrint last year it showed us that there is a strong appetite for the KM-1, and indeed for the MGI JetVarnish, and the digital label press. Printers want to be able to get ahead of the field, and Konica Minolta is committed to providing the means to help them to do that.” The three solutions that are currently available in the Industrial Print Division are certain to be joined by others in the years to come.

All three of the industrial print solutions found a home after PacPrint; the KM-1 was installed at print hub Jossimo to service its three franchise stores, trade print outfit Whirlwind took the JetVarnish, while Roger Kirwan’s Foxcil Group took the digital label printer. Threlfo says, “The C71cf is a niche value proposition, and comes at a great price point.”

Konica Minolta’s original cutsheet business though is not standing still, late last year it launched its Accurio Press C6100 and C6085 series, and has just released its Accurio Press C3070 C3080 printers, which effectively means its whole range has been upgraded within the last six months. Both ranges have been complemented with the new IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimiser, a fully-automated, closed-loop quality management system that the company says results in superior colour consistency and accurate front-to-back registration. It reads the image being printed on the page, and automatically adjusts the machine accordingly for registration, image position, and colour density.

Threlfo says, “The ProPrint Power 50 is about innovation and influence, Konica Minolta is evidently right there. The developments in the Industrial Print Division, and in cutsheet with IQ501 show a company that is powering ahead with a commitment to provide printers with the means to grow by offering their customers more. The IQ501 is able to reduces operator input by some 60 per cent while providing absolute consistency over the run, ensuring that from first sheet to last sheet they are all exactly the same. The new slide-in slide-out envelope fuser for the cutsheet machines is another example of the power of innovation at Konica Minolta, enabling printers to capture new work."

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