Interview Mr. Koike, Senior Corporate Officer & GM IMS Operations
DNP has added a manufacturing line of thermal transfer ribbon at Pittsburgh plant. The operation was launched this spring. September 2013 will also see construction completed of the plant for dye-sublimation thermal transfer media in Malaysia. During his visit to Europe this July, Mr. Masato Koike, DNP Senior Corporate Officer and General Manager of IMS Operations, was so kind as to provide insights about the global market development for information media, the challenges in this area at present and mid-term strategies. The internal PR team was conducting the interview for DNP News Focus.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: Mr. Koike, please tell us about the history of DNP’s IMS Operations.
Mr. Koike: In the 1980s, DNP developed two thermal transfer media, a Thermal Transfer Ribbon and a Dye Sublimation Thermal Transfer Media, and started manufacturing and sales. Initially, the thermal transfer facsimile ribbon was the core business, focusing on overseas markets. Further, we developed new products such as barcode printing to set DNP up for the future. Significant investments into production and business were made.
Dye-sublimation products initially began with supplies for video printers used for printing out images from TV screens, and we have experienced explosive sales growth in 1996 and 1997, based on instant photo machines that produced tiny photo stickers.
Dye-sublimation products supplied to printer manufactures on an OEM basis took advantage of high resolution, and immediacy features, and also began to be used for output uses for digital still cameras around the same time as the video print boom. We established a business model which was developed under our own brand using the DNP logo in the photo market directly by acquiring Pixel Magic Imaging Inc. in 2004 and the purchase of photo business from Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. in 2006.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: What is happening with the manufacturing and sales system, right now?
Mr. Koike: At present, we have five domestic manufacturing bases. We also have two U.S.-based manufacturing plants. Dye sublimation production in U.S. is concentrated in Concord. We also have a plant at Amsterdam in the Netherlands which mainly performs the slitting and winding of ribbons for barcode printer use and dye sublimation ribbons along with regional sales.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: Please tell us about developments at the Pittsburgh plant where an extra manufacturing line has been added.
Mr. Koike: In line with the addition of the new manufacturing line we have been adding further personnel at the Pittsburgh plant. As a result, production capacity is almost doubled, and it is also planned to boost the number of items manufactured. Because we source raw materials on a dollar-denominated basis in the U.S., it is possible to reduce the impact of foreign exchange. DNP is holding its own in terms of product capabilities, and we are looking to capture the top global share on the back of increased cost competitiveness, in line with the addition of the new production line.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: Please tell us about the establishment of the Malaysian plant.
Mr. Koike: Our photo business is the area of dye sublimation operations that we aim to expand most. Overseas operations are overwhelmingly larger than Japan. In order for DNP to expand share, it was necessary to position manufacturing bases offshore considering cost competitiveness and shorter delivery times. We commenced coating at the Concord plant in 2011, and in order to expand product volumes, the decision was made to add a manufacturing plant in Asia. Among the candidates for the new Asian plant, Johor of Malaysia was selected following considerations from a variety of perspectives, especially logistics. The new plant is being created with considerable investment. Both site area and buildings have been arranged so as to be able to respond to production expansion anticipating future sales growth.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: How do you view the global market going forward?
Mr. Koike: With the addition of the manufacturing line at the Pittsburgh plant, and establishment of the new Malaysian plant, our overseas production capacity has expanded considerably to reduce foreign exchange impact, and I believe DNP’s cost competitiveness can be further enhanced. Looking ahead, we will expand our overseas manufacturing bases, including the Pittsburgh and Malaysian plants. In particular, we will grow the Malaysian plant that includes the coating process to become a core plant for dye-sublimation photo media, and want to provide products developed for emerging countries not only to Asia, but also to other developing markets of Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America.
On the other hand, it is necessary to develop sales bases in response to developments in Asia, Europe and Russia. I am proud of the fact that IMS Operations is at the forefront of global expansion among DNP operational divisions, and I want to see us further increase our overseas sales ratios.
DNP NEWS FOCUS: Mr. Koike, we thank you for this interview!