Ashok Sethi: We have around 4,500 machines under direct contract in India

Ashok Sethi, executive general manager, sales, for production and industrial print division at Konica Minolta, discusses his company’s performance and the reasons for their success.

07 Jan 2020 | By Noel D'Cunha

Ashok Sethi, executive general manager, sales, for production and industrial print division at Konica Minolta

PrintWeek (PW): Konica Minolta is not showcasing anything new here. So what are you telling the visitors to your stall?

Ashok Sethi (AS): We basically continue to display our existing models, which we have been selling for the last year or so, and they have been very well accepted.

In the 100-ppm series, we have the AccurioPress C6100. In the LLP series, we have 3070 and 3080. Besides, we have the versatile MGI Jetvarnish, which is like an out-of-the-box print embellishment kit. Once you see the printout, you actually get to know what the MGI Jetvarnish is capable of.

PW: MGI Jetvarnish is a patented technology, and Konica Minolta has invested big time in it…

AS: So, basically, it’s our technology that we are selling from the MGI perspective.

PW: Tell us more about your product line IQ — Intelligent Quality Optimiser. Why do you call it unique?

AS: It is a product that we try to sell with every press of ours. It is basically an accessory which helps our products achieve far better colour consistency and registration accuracy, whether it is one print, 100, 500 or 1,000 prints. So the first print or the 1000 print, the automated image registration and colour control, a closed-loop system constantly monitors and adjusts printouts. It helps reduce waste, and enhances productivity.

PW: So how does the IQ accessory work?

AS: It is placed after the main engine. The IQ is place as an inline product which sends a signal back to the machines through software, which then matches the colour density and registration. So the IQ sent the signal with respect to the colour density and registration of the print and what it should be in the second print, next print, and so on.

PW: The software? Is it KM’s?

AS: It is the communicator, from the IQ to the machine. It’s an internal software, and that is about all, I can disclose.

PW: How has 2019 been for Konica Minolta?

AS: It’s been a year where we have maintained our last year’s target. As far as the overall market share is concerned, we have been consistently doing more than 50% of the production print.

PW: We estimate financial year number of Indian digital market in 2018 to be 1,400-1,500 units, which means, you have sold over 700 units?

AS: You could be right.

PW: Overall, how many Konica Minolta print engines are running in India?

AS: If we talk about our machines under direct contract, as well as the partners, like we have two partners with us, it should be around 4,500 machines, and they're running.

PW: Coming back to the numbers, you seem to be doing well?

AS: Hmmm... but we could have done better. We have matched the 2018 numbers in 2019.

The Konica Minolta digital presses are well accepted in the market. But looking at the state of the economy, India is going through a tough time. So people are slightly hesitant to invest in big capital equipment.

PW: You mean your MGI Jetvarnish hasn’t met your expectation in 2019? You had around 10-11 machines installed in 2018...

AS: Yes, we sell the Jetvarnish in the range of Rs 2.5-cr to Rs 5-cr. So, the customers are slightly sceptical on whether they should go in for such an investment or not. But yes, going forward in 2020-21, we are looking forward to the market opening up. There are green shoots and we can see that customers are looking at investing now.

So, this year we have been able to sell one machine, which is installed in Bengaluru. But if you look at our competitors, they haven’t been able to sell even a single machine. That is the state of the economy.

PW: As a digital print equipment manufacturer, what kind of support do you provide? What make Konica Minolta presses so popular?

AS: So as an organisation, before we sell the machine we go through a standard procedure of providing demonstrations using the customers’ files, satisfy him with respect his requirement, the applications he hopes to work on, and we also train them on our machine.

After installation of the machine, the key operators are trained for around three to four days, explaining what the machine is capable of.

The quality of print and the support we provide make us a popular digital kit supplier. Also, there’s a definite shift towards short-run jobs, and that’s why we are successful.

PW: How has the first two days of the show been?

AS: The first day was slightly slow, but today [7 January] was good. So, we expect good footfall in the next two days. There is a lot of buzz in the market and we hope that translates into greater visitor footfalls.