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Sakaal: evolving
innovatively with standardisations

Founded in the year 1932 as Sakaal, a Marathi newspaper headquartered in Pune, Sakaal Group of Publications has rapidly and remarkably achieved many milestones in their growth path during its 78 years of journey, expanding from a single edition vernacular newspaper to the multi-faceted media group serving multilingual audiences. Briefs Bhausaheb Patil, director (technology), Sakaal Media group.

Bhausaheb Patil


part from their flagship newspaper Sakaal being published in nine editions reaching the length and breadth of Maharashtra enjoying a loyal readership that cuts across the rural-urban divide, Sakaal Group of Publications also publishes two full-fledged English newspapers, viz. Sakaal Times from Pune and Gomantak Times from Goa; besides this Gomantak is a leading widely circulated Marathi daily published from Panjim. A 16-page tabloid newspaper on agriculture, namely Agrowon is published in six editions, which is the only one of its kind in Asia; and there are three esteemed magazines including Saptahik Sakaal, the Marathi weekly from this group. It has an average circulation of 60,000 copies whereas its special issue has a circulation of one lac+. Yet another publication Tanishka, a glossy Marathi monthly, targets specially modern Indian women. The group has formed a club of these young, energetic women’s as a ‘Madhurangan’ – a platform to express their voice. Premiere is also a first Marathi magazine devoted to film and entertainment. To branch out in reaching their audiences, they also host online versions of their publications which are quite popular among Marathi speaking ‘netizens’ across the world. Besides, Sakaal’s SMS-based services offer mobile users in Maharashtra and Goa for fresh updates on a wide range of topics. Their B&P division publishes books and also brings out a weekly yellow pages pullout, which is the first such initiative by any newspaper group in India.

To better perform their diversified activities, the Sakaal group is always committed to embrace state-of-the-art technologies, be it prepress, in-press or postpress. After initially using Harris machines for printing, they switched over to Manugraph since a decade and decided to stick to the same brand for expansion plans. To publish all colour 24 pages of Sakaal, the Manugraph Frontline machine, with a speed of 60,000 CPH, on shaftless mode fulfilling their requirements, had been installed four Frontline machines.

For ensuring outstanding quality of every product, adequate efforts were made for standardisation in every segment at Sakaal group. “Despite having all hi-tech presses, we were inconsistent in reproduction. In process, we printed IFRA test form on all machines only to find inconsistency in slur, doubling,dot gain, ghosting, registration, etc due to printing parameters not being to the standard. We straight away focused on dot gain and density consistency with one press initially with various efforts like adjusting inner packing of blankets, pressure settings (bearer to bearer), roller settings (5 MM Strip), ink duct settings, brake setting, etc to control desired dot and density. Gradually, all our restless efforts gave fruits to achieve almost reaching very close to results required for IFRA Icons test form. Having done this all separately and achieved results, major hurdle was to keep hundred percent consistencies in all aspects. Here onwards, we formed quality group comprising experts from aforesaid processes and gave them targets to achieve consistency in reproduction quality to help taking part in IFRA INCQC 2008-2010. Subsequently with successful dry runs, we participated in the same and are one of the only three very proud winners from India to achieve prestigious club membership, apart from receiving the Bronze from Asia group in best quality printing category,” conveyed Bhausaheb Patil, director (technology), Sakaal Media group.

“While doing Sigma analysis of the problem, we identified all the related issues and decided to follow colour management workflow to improve reproduction quality in all aspects. We initiated trained our core group for IFRA colour management, providing important knowledge on ISO-12647-3 standardisation in printing. Now for implementation, with thorough evaluation, we initiated our efforts with densitometers and profile maker to help ourself with measuring and adjusting the various colour parameters as per need. The same technique we followed for standardisation of raw material, prepress as well,” he explained.

“For prepress standardisation, our core team evaluated various preflight applications to find ASURA from OneVision fulfilling our need with more than satisfaction. We really were able to zero down the advertisement errors and subsequent CtP workflow helped us to give good dot and density reproduction with the help of quality raw materials. Another issue was variance in image corrections which mainly was individual dependence due to lack of monitor calibration. With help of monitor calibration equipments, we calibrated our monitors and scanners with requisite colour profiles for best reproduction results. This helped us to eliminate person to person differences in image correction results. To completely eliminate this variance, we procured auto colour correction software which helped us largely to automate colour process based on hot folders using various loaded calibrated profiles as per image texture to find accurate image enhancements,” said Bhausaheb. For overall standardisation, the group set up the basic lab infrastructure for testing of raw material specifications based on IFRA Icons specifications, and having found lot of inconsistencies in different batches and in same batches too, they took initiatives to achieve consistent quality.

Also, by implementing SmartFlow, the Sakaal Group created a significant benchmark in the Indian media industry, being the first Marathi media house in Maharashtra going for SmartFlow, an indigenous, customized online content management system that greatly simplifies the tasks in the editorial department, apart from making the relevant processes virtually paperless. It is a versatile system that seamlessly networks the editorial departments at all the centers in the group, facilitating quick, secure and hassle-free exchange of editorial content within the corporate network.

SAP is another positive step in the direction of enhancing performance in scheduling, circulation, production, etc. With the help of SAP, a dedicated link is now in place between the editorial and scheduling departments, expediting pagination. Since file formats have been standardized, any centre can now accept an advertisement for any other centre. Scheduling of advertisements is now a smooth and quick job, since the page status for any given future date can now be viewed instantly. Other departments like circulation, production and finance too benefit immensely from the revolutionary SAP system. SAP conferred upon Sakaal an award for best implementation of business processes in the mid-size business category.

Incorporation of the Six Sigma philosophy of management represents their desire to keep up with the changing times, focusing on eliminating defects/problems through practices that emphasize understanding, measuring and improving processes. “We genuinely believe that to excel and to lead in a chosen domain, one has to think ahead of one’s time. Our futuristic thinking enables us to improvise, upgrade and enhance systems and processes by application of the latest technology. Implementation of SmartFlow, SAP and Six Sigma are just a few indicatives of our passion to embrace sophisticated technology and ingenious concepts for continual enhancement of our overall business processes and efficiencies,” concluded Bhausaheb with pride.

Colour Management

Initial values of dot gain before any colour management procedure :

Analysis - By evaluating these dot gain values, they can easily conclude that there is serious dot loss in middle tone areas and there is lot of difference among the dot gain values of all colours which is necessary to stabilized around the 26 percent dot gain curve as per IFRA standard. This kind of dot loss affects the gray balance and tone reproduction.

To achieve 26 percent dot gain curve, they need to check press condition.

After implementing colour management,
the following results were achieved:

This standardisation process helped them improve quality of printing, quality awareness among people involved in the prepress and press areas. They were also able to minimize ad rejection, editorial complaints and achieve customer’s satisfaction to greater extent.


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