Konica Minolta 27 September update on toner supplies

Third notice on explosion-accident at KM’s Tatsuno factory

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Konica Minolta finalizes 8 November as Tatsuno factory restart date
Konica Minolta has confirmed its production at the Tatsuno factory will resume on 8 November Photo Konica Minolta

On 27 September 2021, Konica Minolta issued its third notice regarding the fire in July and the explosion in August at its Tatsuno toner supplies factory. The Tatsuno factory produces toners for on-demand digital printing systems. See our earlier coverage on the incidents. Although we asked Konica Minolta India for an input on the toner supply and inventory situation in India, 48 hours before publishing our story on 24 September 2021, we still have not heard from them on this issue. – Editor

The 27 September statement issued by Konica Minolta Japan says – Regarding the accident that occurred at Tatsuno Factory of Konica Minolta Supplies Manufacturing Co., Ltd. on August 12, we sincerely apologize for the considerable inconvenience and concerns among local residents, relevant authorities, and customers who use our products. As it took time to investigate the cause and determine the timing of production resumption, the current situation is as follows:

Cause identification and countermeasures

Both of the two accidents occurred in the secondary drying process in the toner production process. After the August 12 accident, it took time to collect and analyze data. As a result of in-house investigation including objective advice from a third party organization, we have decided it is highly likely that the static electricity generated in this drying process was the cause of the dust explosion.

As a measure to resume production, we introduced a new production process that does not use the secondary drying process, with the aim of eliminating the risk of accidents and ensuring safety.

Plans for resuming production

At Kofu Factory, the risk assessment by experts has currently been under way. With confirmation that the assessment ends with no problem, we will resume production of toners in this new production process on October 18. Tatsuno Factory also goes through similar risk assessment and, in addition to explanations to fire departments and other relevant authorities, we will hold an explanatory session for local residents. Resumption of toner production at Tatsuno Factory is planned on November 8.

Shipments of products are scheduled to begin on October 28 at Kofu Factory, which mainly produces toners for office products, and on November 20 at the Tatsuno Factory, which mainly produces toners for on-demand digital printing systems. We will endeavor to ensure that our customers can use our products.

Domestic toner supply (in Japan)

Supply of toners for office products continues so that customers can continue to print. Regarding toners for on-demand digital printing systems, we are trying to recover at an early stage, including adoption of alternative toners. As for some color toners, with our sincere apology, we have no choice but to halt new orders. By resuming production, we will start supply sequentially from around November 20. Until that time, we will continue to provide support for the business continuity of our customers. For monochrome machines, toner supply will keep running, while adjusting the shipment volume.

The Konica Minolta Group takes the accidents seriously and will continue to strive to ensure the safety of the community. At the same time, we would like to express our sincere apologies for the accidents, which caused concerns and inconvenience to our customers due to a shortage in the supply of toners. We also ask for understanding and support as we work to resume production in the future.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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