Currently vaunted as the world’s most expensive hypercar, the new Lamborghini Veneno will set you back a cool £2.8 million – or you might prefer a new Bugatti Veyron Super Sports at £2 million. For those wanting to buy British, how about the Aston Martin One-77? It’s a snip at only £1.15 million.
For those not so well-endowed in the trouser pocket, there’s always the option of starting out on your personal road to riches by investing the comparatively paltry sum of £9,999 on a Roland DG VersaExpress RF640 eco-solvent printer.
But what is it exactly that the aforementioned items of illustrious hardware have in common?
You might be surprised to discover that the entry level price point of the Roland belies the fact that – just like the Lambo, the Veyron and the Aston – the Roland DG printer is assembled entirely by hand.
In fact, the Roland can possibly lay claim to having the advantage in the hand-made one-upmanship stakes; whilst the cars mentioned above will be assembled by a variety of production line workers with a range of particular skills, the Roland printer is entirely hand-assembled by one single technician. That’s right – every single Roland DG printer is assembled from the ground up by just one individual person within the manufacturing team.
Using a manufacturing concept known in Japan as D-Shop or Digital Yatai, the whole Roland DG assembly process is directed by a step-by-step computer animation which guides the operator to the next action. Parts carousels are also PC-connected ensuring the correct part is selected. All screwdrivers are connected to the same system so that the correct pre-set torque setting is applied to every single screw.
This Digital Yatai process reduced printer manufacturing failure rates at Roland DG to exactly zero overnight. Yes, you did read that correctly: manufacturing with zero defects.
A Roland worker making an industrial printer follows prompts on the computer (1), pulling pieces from the rotating parts rack (2) and using digital screwdrivers (3) with a preset number of turns and torque.
Assembly completed, that same Roland DG technician subsequently signs the printer. This creates an indelible audit trail that will forever identify that technician as being responsible for any production-related woes that might befall that printer during its working life. You simply do not find that degree of buck-stops-here accountability in manufacturing these days – not even if you buy a £2.8 million Lamborghini Veneno.
Yet this assembled-by-hand production methodology – normally associated with low volume and high cost product – does not stop Roland DG producing outstanding product in sufficient volumes to meet the quotas required for worldwide printer sales. Volumes so impressive that InfoTrends recently reported Roland DG as the “World's Number One Seller of Wide-Format Printers” for the durable graphics market in 2015.
Low cost, high quality product, produced in volume. That’s quite a demanding set of criteria – and perhaps even unique to Roland DG and its forward-thinking production methods.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Roland DG still today continues to streamline its Digital Yatai production processes. New technologies have been implemented to automate a number of simple assembly operations, allowing employees to focus on more complex tasks requiring manual dexterity and a human touch.
By combining state-of-the-art technology, innovative manufacturing processes and an individual’s human touch, Roland DG really has transformed its production processes to create a winning formula.
You can see Roland DG Digital Yatai in action on this news footage from the PBS networks Nightly Business Report show: