Last September, Masterton-based Printcraft updated its Konica Minolta AccurioPress C6100 with an AccurioPress C7100. The company also installed an AccurioPress C4070.
Peter Watson, owner and managing director at Printcraft, says, “We were happy with the C6100, but we still went to market, exploring all the options available. My wish-list was long and tough. I decided early on that to improve productivity, we were best to purchase a second machine, rather than opt for one machine with more capability. But the second machine would have to be capable of producing the same quality as the main digital press.
“Right from the outset, Adam Hawkes and the team at Konica Minolta worked hard to make sure their proposals aligned with my wish-list. They succeeded. No one else came close to offering as many options as possible at a manageable price.
“Both machines have bulk bins, IQ colour management units, and stitching units.
The C7100 also has the new stacker unit which will fill the stacker, eject to a trolley, and continue running to the stacker, for ‘hands free’ operation. Both run Konica Minolta Controllers which are extremely versatile for experienced operators. As we had already run this RIP on the C6100, it was an easy transition.
“A big one on my wish-list was a colour management system which we could manage offline, measure a result to a small tolerance, and get written reports to ensure we always get as close to our colour standard as possible. Konica Minolta came through with the Konica Minolta FD-9 spectrophotometer and the AccurioPro Colour Manager Suite.
“Mark Northin, from Konica Minolta, worked long and hard with an expert on my team to tailor this system and create custom profiles, specifically to our needs. It is fantastic. Every day, we are sure we are meeting our standard for our clients. Occasionally, we get a fail, which alerts us to wear and tear on parts before it becomes a visible issue.
“I am constantly amazed how the two printers match print exactly. I can split long run jobs between the two or run any historical job on either machine without compromise on colour or quality. A job we ran three months ago matches exactly to the job we will run today. No more wasted time adjusting files to try to match something we printed last week.
“Productivity has doubled. We are already well into the millions of clicks. The result is higher productivity, less stress on staff, and less late nights trying to meet deadlines.
“We can now enjoy three weeks between tech visits. We have not had this level of stability with any other digital press system. The team at Konica Minolta are also open to trying ‘press only’ stocks on these machines, even some that are a definite ‘No’ from other suppliers. Subsequently, we have enjoyed enormous success in opening new markets which suit the versatility of digital, while still being able to use challenging stocks.
Positive signs for print
From his start in the industry at Government Print as a photolithographer almost 40 years ago, to his position running Printcraft today, Peter has witnessed some profound changes in the sector. He says, “I have been in the industry all that time, and it is a fast-changing beast, particularly in prepress. I absolutely love the challenge of new technology and the way we must constantly adapt to fresh ways of producing printed material.”
Printcraft is a print institution in the Wairarapa, currently employing 16 staff. He says, “Printcraft has supplied print from Masterton since before World War II. I began here nearly 25 years ago, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to purchase the company three and a half years ago.
“I have an absolutely fantastic team. We enjoy a wide variety of work from an eclectic mix of clients. Every day we are looking at new ways to produce work or have the chance to produce something completely new. My team are always up for the challenge, and it makes for an exciting workplace.”
He is realistic about the industry’s future. He says, “The print industry is having a tough time of it, but haven’t we been saying that for the last 30 years?
“There is no denying we are still in the grip of supply issues. It is improving slowly, but lines of paper are coming and going at a horrifying rate. Trusted paper brands suddenly dry up and we are faced with testing, and budget reworks to try to leave the client as unaffected as possible.
“Rising prices from every direction have caught many of us out. Margins have been squeezed at such a rate that we have found ourselves on the back foot for the last 18 months. We underwent a review across the board in January, and it proved how far behind we were. Many customers have trimmed the fat, including their print requirements, but we keep giving them the best service possible, so as the economy strengthens, we are set to help them grow again.
“This year, I have seen a marked improvement in business confidence across my client base. Inflation and the New Zealand Dollar are arguably stabilising. Businesses are just getting back on with it. My export clients are experiencing good growth. I am feeling positive for the coming year. I think we should try to ignore the negative media and economic forecasts. Just get on with what you do well.
“I firmly believe print has a solid future. Packaging, labels, and signage are still experiencing solid growth. We have diversified and expanded into these growth areas with solid success.
“Online ordering is here to stay, but whether the purchase is instore or online, as a customer you want to feel wowed with the packaging when you open the product.
“Printed books are also a winner for us. People are realising that a great healer for mental health is a good read. You can feel the tide turning against online advertising too. It bombards the audience so much that it is mostly ineffective.
“Our bright future requires partners we can rely on such as Konica Minolta, and I have become increasingly fussy on which partners we choose. It is vital that the service and supply of print production equipment is sourced directly from the manufacturing company, so having Konica Minolta New Zealand as a direct operation is a real plus. The level of service we are receiving is top notch.
“The sales and technical teams are always available, often working very long hours to sort solutions and keep us pumping. Their work ethic is second to none.
“It is also the only company whose managing director has taken the time to talk with us. Spending time chatting with Eric Holtsmark has shown how he takes a genuine interest in the businesses looking at purchasing Konica Minolta products.”