By Eef de Ridder, Vice President, Graphic Communications Group, Ricoh Europe
The print production environment has endured extreme pressures over the past 18 months forcing print service providers to reevaluate, rethink, and reimagine.
Operations have had to quickly adopt new ways of working while understanding how their market has changed and, more importantly, how their client’s has.
They have had to consider what that means for the ongoing relationship and identify how to adapt their services to deliver what is required.
Smithers’ The Future of Print Equipment Markets to 2026 reported the market is being shaped by trends established pre-2020 and accelerated by Covid-19.
Three trends signaled a strong future for digital print:
1 The decline of most analogue markets and a relative increase in digital printing.
Analogue presses, in particular, have been impacted by the continuing fall in high volume publications work such as magazines, newspapers, catalogues and directories. They are predicted to see a -1.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 2022–2026.
2 Shorter run lengths and a fall in print volumes.
They will strongly favour digital printing as a result of taking work from analogue print lines and growth through new markets embracing enhanced variable imaging. Inkjet will see the highest growth across 2021–2026, as handling and print quality continue to improve. Inkjet users will benefit from access to more high productivity machines now entering the market.
3 Continued growth in bespoke e-commerce packs.
The booming sales of bespoke e-commerce packs are expected to create a market for e-commerce sellers investing in smaller presses to deliver in-house printing.
Ricoh’s research and development has been focused on building, and continually enhancing, a portfolio of solutions that support every digital print production need.
Its sheetfed digital colour press systems include the EDP Award winning Ricoh Pro™ C5300 Series, its creative stablemate the Ricoh Pro™ C7200X now offering Gold and Silver toners, and the Ricoh Pro™ C9200 with its new optional ACD (Auto Colour Diagnosis) technology that performs corrections for each colour while printing.
Ricoh has also expanded its inkjet portfolio with the patent holding flagship Ricoh Pro™ VC70000 and the Ricoh Pro™ VC60000 colour continuous feed presses. They are being joined soon by the unique Ricoh Pro Z75 aqueous ink B2 sheetfed colour press.
Enabling operational flexibility and agility are end-to-end workflow solutions that connect print businesses and their clients 24/7 allowing job submission, online ordering and digital downloads. They include Ricoh’s TotalFlow cloud based portfolio, with RICOH Supervisor that accurately gathers operation wide data for up to date management information and analysis, and the highly configurable PDF workflow solution Ricoh ProcessDirector that manages print production by reducing manual touchpoints and automating processes. High quality production is also assured with colour management capabilities including Color-Logic and ColorGATE Productionserver.
Key to bringing everything together is finding a collaborative technology partner that supports and guides any transition. One that helps asses challenges and pain points, identifies solutions and helps the transition by sharing insight, knowledge and expertise. Ricoh delivers this with its broad range of technical services and European-wide footprint. It has also developed its Business Booster online information portal and its EDGE consultation service that delivers tailored post-sales tools, advice, and methodologies.