Ricoh has secured the first European order for the Avanti Slingshot MIS system that is now 100% owned by the Japanese company.
FCS Laser Mail is also buying a second IP5000. This as the first inkjet press to be sold with a Ricoh badge. It has since been joined by the VC60000 litho substitution press and most recently by the VC40000. This machine is positioned between the two machines.
“It is as compact as the IP5000,” says Benoit Chatelard, VP production printing Ricoh Europe. “A little wider and faster.” The print bars hold one station per colour and an extra fifth station. The colour heads can be withdrawn to allow the press to run as a back only press. The fifth unit could print a security ink or MICR perhaps.
“The press for graphic arts applications remains the VC60000, however quality from the VC40000 is superb. The IP5000 started as a transactional press and the VC40000 can move users into some commercial colour,” he says.
Commercial print solutions director Erwin Busselot adds: “It’s a function of time, quality and cost. We needed to offer better quality and higher speeds. Together with our sheetfed presses, we have machines that cover the whole market.”
And Ricoh continues to have success with the IP5000. As well as the order from FCS, the machine has been chosen by the French social security system to print the 900 billion pages a year needed by the organisation.
The VC60000 is shipping in greater volumes to printers across Europe and is beginning to make inroads into commercial printers, though UK installations have so far gone to transactional printers. This has 1200dpi Ricoh print heads while the VC40000 has 600dpi Ricoh heads.
As it is the same style of machine as the IP5000, it can be dropped in between the same reel handling equipment for customers that want to improve quality over the press they currently have.
The VC60000 is a different beast and will take users into offset replacement printing. “Digital allows these printers to do things that they have never done before,” says Chatelard. “They never thought they could use digital to print high volumes of high quality magazines. This is opening new applications.”
For Ricoh the consultancy it can provide by way of a business development plan is as important as the technology, Busselot explaining that this is about helping customers devise the applications for the investment. The Business Innovations and Solutions division came into force at the start of the year “to understand the business processes of our customer to map the technology they need and help them develop”.
Busselot adds: “When customers are talking about value creation, it is more of a business problem than it is a manufacturing issue. We see it as being similar to the computer business. The laptops and PCs have become a commodity, the business comes from the service, the support and the applications development.
“In printing some suppliers want to talk about the technology when it should be about the application. The technology may go faster or produce better quality. But in most cases any new technology is under exploited, because it is not so easy to adapt a workflow to a new way of working.”
New versions of Process Director, Marcoms Central and now Avanti Slingshot sit in the Ricoh software portfolio linking to offset workflow applications like Prinergy or Apogee.
The decision to push a job down one path or the other can be decided by the rules that sit in front of the output device, driven by data collected from the technology and workflow and fed back to improve decision making.
The Ricoh VC60000 is collecting a growing band of users who are producing new applications from newspapers to posters ordered online as the press demonstrates its ability at litho replacement printing.