Founded in July 2013, Mimaki India Pvt. Ltd., the 100% subsidiary of Mimaki Japan, boasts of its customer-oriented approach to address specific needs of its elongated clientele irrespective of the segments across the globe. The technology giant offers high-quality products based on the original technology and aims to become a development-focused company to offer the products in its own brand that can bring satisfaction to its valued customers.
The Japanese wide-format printer manufacturer has big plans to capture the opportunities here in India. The company had initially appointed four representatives here to distribute its product portfolio, and later it went on to augment this number further to enhance its footprints across the country. It also has a demo centre spread across 3,000 sq/ft area in New Delhi to give prospective customers a better feel of the equipment.
In the quest to know the development at Mimaki, we, at Sign & POP World, got hold with Yoshimoto Sugiyama, Mimaki India’s Managing Director along with Daisuke Yamane, Sales Manager – North & South India. In around an hour-long discussion, they shared quite a few interesting updates about the company and its plans. Excerpts are here to follow:
How do you see the market for UV technology in India?
We know that the market is currently flooded with solvent and eco-solvent printers but the recent steps by few states in India which have put a ban on PVC Flex will certainly push the market for UV technologies.
Keeping in view the State’s urge for an alternative to PVC-based media, the time is crucial for machinery manufacturers especially the technology players like Mimaki to proliferate further with UV technology, which is compatible with almost all the substrates including Flex.
However, citing the bans over PVC Flex in certain states here, UV is the best option for printing on fabric, the rapidly emerging alternative in the form soft signage. Mimaki is fully focused on UV technology wherein we printers up to 10 feet width.
For now, we have two solutions for Soft Signage. One is dye sublimation and another is UV technology. And if in case there is the possibility of bringing in eco-solvent technology, we will introduce that also. Nevertheless, for soft signage, we think, UV is more receptive as the demand curve for the same is on the surge.
In which all segments is Mimaki operational? How is the company placed in India?
We are catering to a wide spectrum of the printing market globally. Our product range is divided into three broad segments – sign & graphics, industrial printing, and textile & apparel – and we have a big portfolio for all these segments. As far as our presence in India is concerned, we have few major distributors of our products meeting the needs of their customers in respective geographies.
We can’t afford to lose the opportunities floored herein India and look forward to an extended growth in this country. We would move through our partners except for a few high-end machines, which we prefer to sell directly. So far, we have sold around 500 machines including printers and cutting plotters in the last three years. Major share for us in India is coming from textile segment.
What about service and support?
We do have our representatives, who are providing after-sales services for the installed machines. Now that we are here, we take care of our representatives’ requirements and support them if they come across any problems. We do have a technical team to support our partners. In signage & graphics market, our company fulfils market requirements and leads the industry in supplying creative products. The worldwide standard for speed and brilliance in inkjet imaging is our goal.
Besides, to support our partners, we are rapidly increasing our footprints in India. Our demo centre in New Delhi and Mumbai are equipped with wide format printers, plotters and cutters, having 10 equipment in total to not only facilitate demonstration of our technologies but also to give a better feel of the equipment to our partners and their respective customers. Apart from that we do have plans to soon open a textile lab in Mumbai, which will be followed by a demo centre in southern region.
Mimaki is known for its quality that comes at a price. India being a price-sensitive market, how do you see the prospects?
Majority of India is actually price-sensitive and that makes sometime tough for quality players to convince the buyers. However, at the same time, there also exist plenty of quality-conscious customers who are more concerned with the output. Though, we do have customers for sublimation machines but then it adds extra investment for them as they need to install heat-transfer press also.
For UV, even if the government fully bans PVC Flex, we will have to wait and watch if the market response especially from the customers like brands & advertisers is ok for UV. I think, advertising companies have to be considered as this is just the one way to advertise amidst many like TVCs, Radio, Social Media, Print Media, Trade Media, etc. Yet, this is very important to note that when it comes to printing, banner and hoardings are the only way to reach the masses.
Does Mimaki also manufacture inks?
Mimaki does not only offer printers but also inks, which are manufactured in our factories in EU, China, Taiwan, etc. All the inks so sourced are fully tried & tested for Mimaki machines. As of now the cost of UV inks is also very high but as the market will grow, this cost would certainly come down to an affordable level. Citing brighter prospects of UV technology in this part of the geography, there may come the possibility of ink manufacturing in India too.
What about printheads?
We use printheads from internationally renowned companies. The selection of the heads in a particular machine depends on the configuration of the machine and its application. However, we do offer warranty for our printheads, while human errors and operational faults are not the scope of our warranty. One of the most important steps to keep the print heads conditioned is keep running the machine.
How can PSPs take care of printheads?
We do prescribe some methods which are very common for all printers like not to wipe out the heads but the surrounds and then keep the heads capped for the period it is not in operation. This is for simple reason that we are not selling the machines to our customers for their own usage but for their business by catering to their respective clients. We want our customers to enjoy their association with us which is only possible when the machines we are selling them remain in good condition so that they can continue making good business out of these machines.
What if the printheads get blocked?
We suggest our customers to check the nozzle blockade each single time before starting the process. There is an automatic cleaning mechanism in our printers. But if the blockade doesn’t get cleared with this process, we have a specific system which facilitates easy nozzle recovery facilitating quick & easy restarting to production. This is unlike earlier when in case of nozzle blockade, customers needed to wait for the technician to come and fix the issue. This makes our machines far more user-friendly than the ones available in the market for now.
What is the sales split (segment wise) for Mimaki?
While the textile & apparel business is showing us more potential, the sign & graphics segment accounts for the most i.e. around 70% of the total sales at Mimaki not only in India but across the world. Overall, Asia accounts for less than 20% of the total sales at Mimaki. As of now, Europa is the biggest market for the company, followed by Japan, Asia Oceania including India, China, etc., North America, and other global area.
First, we would establish Sign & Graphics printers’ sales in India, and in the meantime, we will start focusing on Textile & Apparel market. This is because, we foresee a brighter future in textile & apparel segment wherein we are expecting big potential, and hence, it will be our focus area.
What is new in Mimaki’s kitty?
The trend is changing faster than time as the technology is changing with each passing day. Earlier, the frequency of innovation was not that fast and the innovations use to come once in two or three years. We have many business verticals and each of the segments have something or the other in the name of innovations every other day. Nonetheless, we are planning to develop and introduce more affordable solutions for the countries like India. Also, we are planning to manufacture inks globally that would enable us to expand our global operations.
With all these on cards, we will propose new low-cost manufacturing harmonised with environmental concerns, where all necessary resources and energies will be used only at the time and in the amount they are needed. And we strive to become a development focused global corporation known for our own brand worldwide.