By Sharina Ahmad

THE commercial printing industry is becoming very competitive with numerous players having invested in developing newer and better wide-format (large-format) printers. In order to stay relevant, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (M) Sdn Bhd continues to adapt to the changing technology and demand with its innovative approach.

“Konica Minolta’s business is doing quite well in Malaysia. Our innovative approach continues to drive the business to achieve positive growth this year as well as to thrive in the future,” its managing director Koji Yoshida tells FocusM.

“We are committed to digitally transforming businesses with the goal of helping businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to save time and improve productivity.”

Yoshida expects 2020 to be a better year for the company as it is looking at expanding its range of technology and solutions across different industries.

“Smart factories are now largely automated, and the ‘know-how’ to program robotics and use design and simulation software has replaced the hands-on process of the traditional factory worker.

“We’re looking at introducing a new digital manufacturing solution, WoundAide, which is a part of our healthcare solution and gas monitoring solution, which enhances the safety of oil and gas factories.”

WoundAide is a digital handheld wound measurement solution that monitors and documents wounds, and provides an accurate and consistent wound assessment, which includes a photo and 3D measurements of depth, length, width, surface area and volume of the wound.

The gas monitoring solution works to minimise risk and improve plant safety, especially for the oil and gas industry.

These two products are expected to be in the market soon.

Beyond printing

In line with changing times, Konica Minolta is moving beyond just printing.

“We have shifted the focus of our business with the introduction of IT-centric products, targeting a wide cross-section of industries and business solutions.

“We believe in the ‘Future of the Workplace’, rather than just selling our clients another machine,” says Yoshida, who has been in the industry for 27 years.

“We’ve noticed that in the Malaysian market, we are moving towards Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0). We are becoming used to going paperless and everything is pretty much digitised these days.

“We have developed breakthrough technology such as the newly launched Internet of Things (IoT)-based bizhub i-Series multifunctional printers.”

Yoshida explains that the bizhub i-Series lineup is not just a copier – it showcases the company’s approach to rethink security, interactivity, simplicity and productivity as reflected in the functions and integration capabilities of the smart printers.

With connectivity and intelligence, printers are a potential security breach point. However, many are unaware that their computers can be infected with viruses through connected printers.

With this in mind, Konica Minolta has developed security packs, with real-time virus scanning to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

In July 2019, the company launched its first Experience Centre in Petaling Jaya using its top printers and tech to showcase how an office can adapt within IR 4.0. The centre provides end-to-end IT, IoT and other office solutions including the state-of-the-art bizhub i-Series of multifunctional printers which also made its debut at the event.

“Additionally, we have greatly invested in our research and development called the Business Innovation Centre (BIC). The BIC is established in five major regions around the world and headquartered in Singapore. Other BICs are located in London, UK; Huangpu, Shanghai; and Hamamatsu-cho, Tokyo.”

These BICs, according to Yoshida, also collaborate closely with a diverse range of entities such as academic institutes, research institutes, partner companies and startups, allowing for a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs.

“We will continue to strengthen our business in the IT and IoT industry, while continuously making products/solutions with breakthrough technology.

“This is the key initiative for us to become a digital company with insight into implicit challenges. We will invest in multiple advertising platforms from online to offline. Moving with the trend, we will focus on promotions on digital platforms,” he says.

Konica Minolta’s other investments for this year are aligned with Malaysia’s goal to be an advanced IR 4.0 player, says Yoshida. “Our manufacturing arm has invested heavily into the Smart Industrial Centre in Melaka. It is a manufacturing plant to produce our latest multifunctional printer with IoT and IT capabilities for global export.”

He adds that the company has also recently invested in upgrading and refurbishing all 12 of its sales offices to showcase new services.

How to remain sustainable

Yoshida believes print has hit a saturation point, especially in the office setting. This is evident in countries that have embraced “paperless” operations.

“The key is pivoting the company synchronous to current developments and needs. With this digitisation, scanning and security capabilities are more important than ever. So we evolve beyond print.

“We are focusing our development in digital manufacturing, IoT and IT-based solutions and services to truly help companies embrace what we like to call the ‘Future of Work’,” says Yoshida, who was appointed to his current role in the company in May this year.

However, with that said, print is still relevant, so it’s about adding value, he says.

“We deliver this via creative printing capabilities, allowing customers to personalise prints with special effects.

“In the professional print business, we’ve moved completely into enhancing digital print capabilities including label, foil and varnish, and textile printing at a more efficient cost compared to traditional printing.

“We have a robust range of IT and IoT products and solutions which can fit into any size organisation – be it multinational companies, SMEs or startups,” he says.

For large organisations with multiple branches and departments, the company has IT outsourcing services to help them control IT costs, reduce labour costs and increase efficiency and competitiveness.

“With this, they can stay focused on their core business. We also have cloud-based customisable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution which SMEs can take advantage of. Our ERP solution is also scalable to fit its module according to each SME’s requirements.

“As and when the company grows and needs more functions, more modules can be added accordingly,” Yoshida says.

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