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Ricoh bringing customer engagement to life

Wednesday, 31 October 2018
By Jake Nelson

The Aussie were the largest group to go through the Ricoh Customer Experience Centre at Rayong, Thailand.

Ricoh’s regional customer experience centre (CEC) is just a part of its massive Rayong production plant, which spans 120,000sqm and employs almost 4000 workers, in lush surrounds an hour from the famous beach resort city of Pattaya.

The air-conditioned interior is a welcome relief from the sticky heat of the rainy season outside, for me and for the rest of the 40 Australian guests and staff who have come to tour the facility – the largest group to have visited the CEC since it opened in 2016.

The Australian visit is part of an event dubbed Alive with Colour, where Ricoh has flown both existing and potential clients out to Thailand to show them the CEC and the kit on display inside.

According to Simon Lane, national manager for commercial and industrial print at Ricoh Australia, Alive with Colour demonstrates Ricoh’s commitment to its customers. “What is important to us is having profitable, productive, and happy customers,” he says. “This event is for our customers to understand us and what we do, but it is also about helping us understand them and what they want.”

For Ricoh, the CEC is an opportunity to connect with customers and show off its broad range of hardware and software options. “We have a lot of strings to our bow,” says Lane. “We are able to demonstrate technologies from cut-sheet commercial right through to high-speed inkjet and wide-format, plus a range of workflow tools.
“We didn’t show all the solutions we have available, either. We have many more solutions for sale,” he added. “To be a trusted partner, we need to meet more than one need for our customers.”

At the CEC the Australian party is taken through the show floor in groups, moving between each station to get a first-hand look at the solutions on display. For my group, the first cab off the rank is cutsheet commercial, including the toner-based Pro C9200 series digital press.

“The C9200 is a workhorse. It is designed to be highly productive and to provide profitable outcomes for customers,” says Lane. “It can manage a broad range of substrates, it has significant processing speed, and it has built-in capabilities to ensure consistent high-quality registration.”

As we approach the wide-format section, the Pro T7210 flatbed is printing on a 35mm wooden door. It is an unusual entry in the flatbed space in that it is designed not for signage, but for décor, explains Paul Thompson, business development manager for direct to garment and visual display solutions at Ricoh. He says, “We are able to target that market due to a couple of factors: the ink we manufacture for it is high-adhesion, with the ability to be applied to a wide range of substrates. The machine also has inline priming capabilities, which opens up products such as glass, aluminium and steel without the need for pre-treatment.

“It can print a wide range of applications on a wide range of materials at high speed, 100 square metres per hour, using substrates up to 110 millimetres thick,” he says.

The Pro T7210 is not a niche product however; customers have told Ricoh that the machine works well as a signage printer that can also produce décor. “We have been running tests with materials such as corflute, and had some fantastic results,” says Thompson.

Also on display in the wide-format section are prototypes of Ricoh’s upcoming entry into the roll-to-roll space; the Pro L5160 latex printer, slated for release early next year. As with its other devices, Ricoh is manufacturing the complete package, including inks, print heads and the machine itself. “We are managing the whole process,” saysThompson.

The L5160 runs at a low temperature, opening it up to heat-sensitive stock. “There is also built-in maintenance,” adds Thompson. “It has self-cleaning tools that increase the uptime, minimises the impact on staff, and enables more product out per hour.”

Following a look at the continuous-feed VC60000 high-speed inkjet machine, which prints at up to 150 metres per minute and takes up an entire corner of the room, we are introduced to the toner-based C7200x series cut-sheet graphic arts press.

This is one of the star attractions of the CEC – it printed the stunning invitations we received to the event – and has many of the same capabilities as the C9200, according to Lane, with a few additions for the graphic arts sector. “The C7200x has the benefit of offering interchangeable white and clear toner,” he says. “We have been able to demonstrate that you can produce high-quality differentiated work in a single pass using white and four-colour on particular substrates.”

The C7200x also offers options such as neon pink and neon yellow to expand the colour gamut, and invisible red, which shows up clear but turns red under ultraviolet lighting – ideal for security applications, says Lane. “It is aimed at areas such as ticketing for events, and it adds another string to the bow for our customers.”
After lunch, we are taken through the Ricoh factory itself. This site manufactures a range of devices, and the scale of the place is jaw-dropping. Our guides show us through what feels like miles of floor space filled with bustling workers, some of whom offer a friendly smile and a wai – the traditional Thai greeting involving placing your hands together and bowing – as we pass.

The factory hums along like clockwork, and I often overhear others in the tour group wondering aloud at the scale of the task required to keep everyone organised. It is one of the more impressive sites I have seen in 
my two years at Print21.
 Alive with Colour is not just about Ricoh showing off its kit to customers. The event has also been designed for the customers to give the supplier feedback, and an entire day is set aside at the Holiday Inn Pattaya before the flight home for guests to meet individually with Ricoh staff in face-to-face sessions. “Our aim is to be the premier provider of production printing solutions in Australia, and we understand that many of our guests are not familiar with the Ricoh heritage,” says Lane. “As a result, we welcome their feedback on how Ricoh can better support their ambitions, and their insights as to where we can further improve our technology and support offerings.”

Lane is delighted with the amount of input Ricoh has been offered, especially considering the time guests have had to take out of their busy schedules to attend. “We had customers who willingly threw themselves into this, and who took themselves away from their businesses for a few days. That’s a big investment of time for people who run small to medium enterprises,” he said. “You can’t ask for anything more, because time is the most valuable resource people have.

Feedback was positive, according to Lane, with customers praising the willingness of Ricoh staff to listen to their concerns. “The thing we heard is that people who work in the printing industry want to be listened to, and they are looking for partners who will work with them to be successful,” he says. 21

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