Ricoh SA gained 23 leads at ProPak Africa 2013, held from 12-15 March, 18 of them which the company believes are highly likely to result in new business.

 This is our first year at the expo and it has been very beneficial, said Dierdre Fernandes, marketing, events, CSR, PR and sponsorship co-ordinator at Ricoh SA.

Lareen Kohler, business development manager, indirect channel at Ricoh SA, said, We were one of only a few printer vendor exhibitors at the show and the systems we displayed, including our digital production and wide format equipment, drew a lot of interest from visitors. We were particularly pleased to get qualified interest from litho printers looking to include digital equipment in their businesses.

Kohler said that visitors to the stand were keenly interested in the benefits their businesses could gain from using digital equipment. Chief among these were the ease of use when compared with litho equipment, reduced labour requirements, rapid operator training, production quality which is near litho standards, the lower cost-per-page of digital equipment, fast job turnaround times, excellent and repeatable colour matching, and media setup and handling capabilities. 

Kohler said initial operator training takes only two days and additional training gives operators a deeper understanding of the equipment. Operator replaceable units (ORUs) mean they can service, maintain and repair a large number of the potential issues that may arise, such as toner replacements, to ensure the equipment is always running and generating revenue.

Media setup and handling capabilities are enormous with the library of media that comes with the equipment, which means that no matter the job that walks through their doors, operators can select paper type and grammage from a pre-prepared library of media and simply run a job. When they encounter e new media not yet in the library Ricoh’s laboratory can analyse it and include it in the library for future use so there is no tweaking of settings.

Visitors to the show and Ricoh’s stand were also keenly interested in matching these benefits with the ability to print in colour.

Calibration is largely automated using the built-in EFI ES-1000 spectrophotometer that measures colour for fast, precise, and consistent results, which again reduces lead times between jobs and ensures more revenue-generating hours of production.

Colour matching and production quality are enormously important and has been the mainstay of the litho industry, said Kohler. Litho printers visiting our stand were skeptical at first but quickly changed their views once they saw the quality of samples we produced on the stand for them. In one instance, a father and daughter team who own a litho business in Johannesburg have asked us to help them develop a strategy to transition completely to a digital environment over a two-year period after seeing the capabilities of the production digital equipment.

Another point of interest was the use of polyester, oil-free toner that allows UV-varnishing finish to be applied to prints. Oil-based toners eventually flake and peel so they are unsuitable for finishing with UV varnish but the polyester toner takes care of that problem, said Kohler.