Round table discussions
with Indian web press producers
What it takes to churn out eye-candy copies of newspapers these days would be adoptions of some ultramodern technologies or features like spray dampening, auto blanket cleaning, register control, auto splicers, touch-screen remote control panel as well as others which web press manufacturers keep upgrading as minimum add-ons upon the existing machines. “All such features cover two areas – first, how to reduce competition and therefore cost per copy; secondly, automation in relation to utilising less manpower. Considering this, it is imperative that newspaper companies around the world, especially in today’s scenario, should have machines that are equipped with all such features to benefit from the final product being cost effective,” said Pradeep Shah, MD, Manugraph India. He added, “Similarly we foresee shaftless technology mailrooms, etc as standard equipment of the future.”
Automations occupy a pivotal arena in the progression of technology development in the current Indian newspaper printing. “Hope every newspaper printer in India will adopt automations which result in good quality prints and saving time, labour, newsprints and other costly inputs,” asserted Satish Bajwa, chairman & MD, Pressline India. He further pointed out, “Of late, some printers have started realising that with such inputs they may save a lot. Quantum of production is another major factor which leads to such positive thinking. Scarcity and increasing cost of labour is also forcing the users of web presses to go for automations.” In the similar context, Taposh Chatterjee, GM-exports, J Mahabeer & Co Pvt Ltd explained, “With the maturity of TV and multimedia social platforms, today’s newspapers need to be evenly poised in terms of quality, capability to survive. Gone are the days when a poor-printed quality newspaper was acceptable to a reader. Today, readers want more as they have a wide range of choices. So, it’s very important to go for automation that plays a big role in newspaper printing – spray dampening, close loop register control, remote control inking, web management system including splicers should be standard feature in any installation today. Moreover, in order to make any newspaper operation deliver on low wastage and less use of manpower, can automation be ignored?”
Taposh further asserted, “I would always advocate automations be the standard features in any newspaper operation of today. Not only does it reduce wastage of every increasing newsprint cost, expensive manpower which is at times hard to get also achieves the benefit of the press running with a smaller and effective/efficient crew.”
A word of cordial suggestion from Pradeep is that those newspapers in tier II & III cities may not be in a financial position to afford some of these automation features today. “Nothing to worry about it, these could be retrofitted at a later date,” he advised. According to Mohit Bansal, manager marketing, Naph Graphics, the level of up-gradation, new techniques and features in the modern presses is simply amazing. These advanced mechanisms make the presses more reliable, help in getting outstanding efficiency and best quality. “Ideally we should keep all these features in our standard design but the automation is dependent upon factors like the quality of job to be printed, substrate to be used and the level of budget,” he added.
“Automation features are required to improve operational efficiencies, produce consistently good quality print and cut down on print wastages,” mentioned Jagdeep Singh, GM-sales, The Printers House (TPH). In order to make the printing presses compatible with print requirement and make the processes more efficient, TPH has been offering all the technologies available, such as automatic colour register systems, automatic cut-off control, remote inking, auto splicers, shaftless drives, motorised inking, automatic ink pumping, spray dampening, auto colour and cut off register controls, so on. He said the levels of automation required depends on the printing requirements in terms of number of copies, pagination, etc as also the budget & ROI considerations of the customer. “Motorised register controls, pneumatic controls and brush dampening are considered essential for medium and large print volume presses. For an emerging organisation the cost of automation may be a limitation as having more printing units/4Hi towers may be better,” explained Jagdeep.
In his suggestive view, Saurabh Gupta, director, Prakash Web Offset said, “Of course, in today’s scenario features like spray dampening, auto blanket cleaning, register control, splicers, touch screen remote control panel, etc are important for newspaper presses.” But he mentioned that every customer has different budget and cost/benefit expectations.
It has been not just around home grounds, these India-made indigenous web presses find a good number of customers in the overseas markets too. Manugraph, with an outstanding installed capacity of 1000 print units per year with a wide product mix, has a sizeable chunk of the local market with approximately 65 percent of the company’s sales being local and 35 percent exports. “However, the buyer is whether from India or overseas, a press is manufactured based on the customer’s specifications. In the newspaper industry whether it is number of pages or colours, efficiency and zero breakdown is of critical importance. In fact, I would say a newspaper’s life depends on it being born every morning and hence this is something a producer with a well-engineered printing press can deliver,” said Pradeep. For Manugraph, trust is the company’s biggest strength and it is this reliability factor which has been behind their success in Indian newspaper printing industry and newspaper publishers have seen this for more than 40 years, thus continues to place their trust.
Pressline India, which caters around 200-230 units per annum to domestic and international customers, used to export 80 percent of the total machines till the last 3-4 years but cut down now to 10-15 percent, though as of now the domestic market is doing very well. “Basically the price of Indian web presses is what it attracts overseas buyers a lot. Besides, our machines have reasonable good quality as economic machines are available in India at down to earth prices which no one in the world can offer,” mentioned Satish. Pressline India boasts of its high-end web presses with all available automations in the world market. Even such machines are made available for export at most competitive prices.
“Today Indian presses from the organised sector have become matured in terms of technology, quality, after-sales service, etc. These India-made presses are at par in every sense of the way with other manufacturers worldwide. Indian web press manufacturers are able to offer several options, features and variable which make it attractive to a user. To add icing to the cake pricewise, Indian presses are very cost effective and make investment a much more attractive proposition. I would not say that people like to buy Indian presses because it is cheap – I would rather say that Indian press manufacturers are able to offer a better value for money,” asserted Taposh.
J Mahabeer & Co has been regularly exporting machines to more than 40 countries across the world including USA, Europe, Far East, Middle East, Africa, CIS countries, etc. More than 50 percent of the company’s total production is exported worldwide. Their installed capacity is around 500 units per year – which includes a mix of varied models. “We also offer bay windows, turner bars, in feeds, splicers, web severer as well as equipment with UV dryers, remote control inking, closed loop registration, etc,” mentioned Taposh. In order to cater to the global market, GRAFITEK INTERNATIONAL was incepted as the exporting arm of J Mahabeer & Co, the major activity of which is to promote the products manufactured by the associate companies.
Mohit who boasted of Naph Graphics’ exports figure of 15-20 percent asserted, “Uniqueness of our presses includes design capabilities, talent pool, reduced costs of technology & communication. These features make the Indian machines cheaper and attractive to overseas buyers.” In the similar context, Saurabh Gupta of Prakash Web Offset agreed to the fact that Indian presses are demanded in the overseas market for price, operator-friendly designs and availability of options. Around 35-40 percent of the company’s total production is exported.
According to Jagdeep, India specialises in manufacturing 2x1 web presses, in the medium technology space. He added, “USP of our web presses is ‘value for money’ and comparable in print quality to the best in the world. Costs of Indian web presses are more competitive as compared to those in USA or Europe as they generally don’t offer very high-end features but cost of production is lower and find good acceptance in the emerging markets of Asia, Africa, Latin America, CIS, etc.” With its capacity to manufacture 1,000 printing units per year, around 40-50 percent of TPH’s total production is exported and they are now fully geared up further to enhance the capacity as demand for their web presses is now going up.
Brighter prospects in Indian newspaper industry can be seen from different angles. In this respect, Pradeep rightly opined that smaller centres will be mushrooming at various locations and the need for machines in the range of 35,000 cph will be the key for these new set-ups in tier II, III and even IV levels. “If one could make a printing press similar to what Tata did with the Nano car, I would see that as being a big forecast for the future,” he conveyed. Seeing the same way down the next five years, Satish forecasted the demand for new machines manufactured in India to be continued in the domestic as well as overseas markets in view of the fact that manufacturers in other countries are having difficult times and most of them are discontinuing their activities.
“If the local industry is given a little government support, this is the right time when Indian manufactures can flourish and export can increase considerably. The readership, may not increase much in India, but will definitely not decline,” said Satish.
Over the years, the printing industry has grown in all parts of the globe with massive research in recent times in improving machineries in terms of scope, technology and speed. “Computers and electronics have invaded all the departments of printing, improving quality and speed of the jobs executed with the consequent enhancement of costs enormously. This will further accelerate in creating both opportunities and threats for the printing industry,” asserted Mohit adding that thus is the future to be exciting.
“In a country like ours, there will be enough readers for newspapers in the coming years. There are many geographical territories in the country where new web presses are being set up every day (for fresh editions). Rising levels of literacy and localisation of content are also driving further growth of newspapers,” conveyed Jagdeep adding that print media will co-exist with electronic and new media.
According to Taposh, “While there is onslaught of other media like internet, TV vying with newspaper, it is our belief that with the increase in education level of the general mass, demand for newspaper in tier II, III and below cities will increase as there will be greater penetration of newspapers.” He further mentioned that no major sizable change in newspaper circulation will go down in the next five years.
Signaling the web offset press manufacturing to be flourished further, Saurabh asserted that more and more printed products will come on web offset because of its cost effectiveness and speed. “Press automation and flexibility will play an important role as these machines would be required to print multiple editions and short print runs. Changeover capability of press will prove to be pivotal,” he said.
Eternity would be the world of newspapers which can hardly be submerged all of a sudden. A message from Pradeep disseminated as, “Knowledge is all about reading. We all have read books since our childhood and never seem to forget that. Similarly, reading newspapers in hard copies is like a captivating tapestry of stories, opinions, art and learning which seem to remain in our minds as knowledge almost forever and it will take a long time for science to change it.”