Japan’s automated print firms
On the next day of arrival in Japan, the Indian contingent, along with this reporter (together with the delegation from Mexico, numbering 17 people), were taken to visit two commercial printing companies – Kumagai Printing and Sanshinsha. Both the companies are using LED UV technology on RMGT presses.
The Indian printers were suitably impressed. For one thing, the printing press was operated by a single person. Besides, the décor was quick futuristic, and innovative, including movable chairs on wheels in the boardroom. The entire production area was squeaky clean; the floor was so clean it looked like a mirror. The place was dusting equipment, the way an average building would have fire fighting equipment. The employees wore woollen gloves to avoid finger prints on paper. The paper handling was via forklift. Even extracting papers from bundles was systematic and impressive.
Both the printing facilities are equipped with liquid spraying to avoid electromagnetic field.
The Sanshinsha production facility is located near to the famous Tokyo Skytree – a broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower in Sumida. If you are nearby you can visit or you can take a photo.
The third plant visit was at Nishikawa Printing, a commercial printing plant two hour’s drive from Akihabara. The firm has three heatset web offset printing presses along with two RMGT presses. The heatset presses were operated by a single person and it was quite impressive.
Indian printers at the open house
G Venugopal, Sterling Print House, Kochi
The open house cleared my doubts about LED-UV technology. The demonstration of LED-UV printing presses showcased ample amount of possibilities. I am impressed that I am going to finalise a 25x36-inch five or six-colour printing press with an online coater. RMGT showcased a different type of perfector in tandem perfector. But you need huge volumes to feed such a press. I could see availability of such kind of printing presses. One of the big takeaways was the instant drying of printing inks with LED UV technology.
RMGT 9 series is suitable in terms of size, energy and printing plate consumption
Rahul Kumar talks to Keiji Katayama, senior vice-president, (member of the Board), RMGT
Rahul Kumar (RK): Why are your machines so popular in India? Which were the most popular models in 2017 and why?
Keiji Katayama (KK): Earlier, most commercial printers used to print on 40-inch press but now they are using 36/37-inch press. They are reducing on size because 36/37 is good enough for A4 format jobs. On the basis of my conversations with commercial printers,I can say that most of their jobs are done with 36/37-inches printing. They do get jobs for 40-inch printing but its few.
That’s why our 9 series (920) is in demand. It is a suitable in terms of size, energy consumption, printing plate consumption and it is more economical on all the aspects. Printing is becoming too competitive. Our offering of this size helps commercial printers produce quality and quantity production within stiff competition. That’s why 36/37-inches printing press is becoming more and more popular in India.
We are building a range of offset printing presses. We call it 11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3 series. We manufacture 40-inch and bigger size printing presses, probably 70 sets per year. We manufacture 170 machines of 29x36/37-inch and 100 presses of A3 size.
In total, we manufacture around 330 printing presses per year. We could manufacture such numbers thanks to the joint venture between Ryobi and Mitsubishi.
RK: How has been the last 12 months for RMGT? Please share one high, one low and one wow moment.
KK: The high was when we could convince the US government publishing department to opt for RMGT 4x4 perfector nine-colour LED-UV printing press. They were using German 28x40-inch conventional printing presses, which had a lot of issues. It was a critical moment for us and everyone was very excited for it.
On the low side, I do not remember, but whenever a customer approaches us and we cannot deliver the machine within his demanded time frame, we feel bad.
On the wow side, LED-UV is becoming popular, but it is limited to commercial and books segment. No serious packaging printer has applied LED-UV technology yet. We found one big packaging printer who wanted to work with us. We set up a team who tested LED-UV for packaging printing applications. We alongwith lamp manufacturers, dyer suppliers, LED printing inks and coatings suppliers came together and tested it. It looked like that we have a future. It was a wow moment for us. We found that we could do it. Packaging printers do need LED-UV technology.
RK: There is a buzz in the market about LED-UV. However, do you think cost may be a deterrent why printers are not embracing it?
KK: LED-UV printing ink is expensive. But the fact is the mileage of LED -UV ink is higher than oil-based inks. Printers say LED-UV ink is double or thrice the cost compared to conventional inks. Our experience indicates that the mileage of LED UV/ UV printing inks is more than 20% of conventional printing inks.
LED-UV printing ink is not twice/thrice expensive compared to conventional printing inks. It is only 50% expensive. This should not matter at all, as LED-UV printing ink is just 8% of total print production cost. But look at the mileage and runability of LED-UV inks. It needs a big mindset change.
RK: What has been the impact of GST and demonetisation on your business?
KK: Some of our customers suffered because of it and it impacted us too. If anything new is introduced,it is a process and everyone has to go through the process. After six months of implementation of GST, everything is becoming normal and printers are becoming familiar with the process. The business is getting normal.
RK: Your Indian business contributes only 4% to your global business…
KK: This 4% is not in terms of number of installed machines, but it indicates monetary value of the business. I do not think Japanese, European and American markets are going to grow. The Indian market has a lot of potential along with the African countries. So we continue to work with Indian printers with our best solutions.
RK: RMGT became one of the most popular brands in India in the last few years…
KK: Our Indian partner is doing well. Their knowledge of the market and technical knowhow is a fantastic combination. It’s their commitment and support to Indian printers that helped us to reach to this level in such a short time.
RK: Your methodology to communicate the core values of the organisation?
KK: There is a huge difference in Japan and other countries. When we formed RMGT after the joint venture, the critical part of the operation was to bring people together from different cultures of working – Ryobi and Mitsubishi, as the histories of the organisations were different, technologies were different, and products were different. Basically we did not do anything special. People respect each other. It was a fundamental part of the company. Both the companies respect people.
Rahul Kumar's Japan Impressions
The five-day journey to Japan started on reaching Tokyo, a city of glass high-rises. And the people are polite and helpful. They may not know the language, but all of them have translator apps on their mobile.
In Japan, everything comes in miniatures, including the hotel rooms, but they were equipped with all facilities a traveller might require, including a massage chair and a night shirt. In the hotel, the breakfast table was full of natural and high protein foods, all packed and labelled, including the boiled egg. Now you know why Japan is the world’s biggest consumer in packaging. But there was no water bottle in hotels, because the tap water is potable.
There were few other things I found admirable.
Every shop has plastic bags at the entrance to put wet umbrellas to avoid rain water in the shop. The book shops are huge in terms of books and also have ample space to sit and read the books before buying; every seat contains an empty polythene bag to put trash.