Fluctuations in the commercial offset market

Low-volume print runs increasing in the Indian hinterland

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L - R: Vinay Kaushal, Rajesh Morani and N Pradeep with the newly installed B2 size RMGT 764E press at Amar Offset Printers, Amarawati. Photo IPP

Although press manufacturers are feeling the heat with installations drying up in many tier-1 and -2 cities, there is still hope for them in smaller towns of the country. The FY 2015–16 set a record for offset press manufactures with more than 90 press installations. However, this financial year is not likely to match the high growth of the previous year in terms of machines although the new press numbers may in fact be similar if not a bit higher. Factors such as favorable exchange rates have also helped some manufacturers improve their installations from the previous year. For instance, Heidelberg has already installed more presses in the first seven months than it installed in the same period last year. According to IPPStar’s research team, the FY 2016–17 will see the installation of 85 to 95 brand new multicolor offset sheetfed presses in the country with Komori leading the list in terms of machine numbers followed by Heidelberg and RMGT. KBA will also have a significant number of highvalue, high-configuration sheetfed press installs. Heidelberg has staged a good comeback with high value sales to both commercial and packaging printers.

According to Vinay Kaushal of Provin Technos, the Indian distributor of RMGT, an ongoing change can be seen in the tier-3 and -4 cities. Smaller printers are upgrading their presses since they realize the significance of having the right infrastructure in place to stay competitive. “There are a few changes taking place in the printing scenario. Job runs are becoming smaller, especially in tier-3 and -4 cities, where you have to cater to the local and neighboring markets which are composed of short-run jobs. Although the volumes are low, the number of jobs are more in these areas. And to run the jobs in older, used machines, it does not work out economically any more. You need to have a better machine with faster turnaround time and better efficiency. The modern machines provide the desired efficiency with much faster turnaround time. Plus, the automation features in the new machines help improve productivity as well quality, thereby generating more revenue for the printer,” says Kaushal. 

Although tier-3 and -4 cities are growing in terms of press installations, there has been a surprising dip in Meerut—a tier-3 city which welcomed more than nine commercial offset printers last year. So far, this year the city has only one 4-color Ryobi 920 offset press at Children Choice Publications. Of course, another RMGT is on the cards by the end of this financial year. This categorically emphasizes the fact that the city has complemented the new installs with used machines this year. According to Deepak Goyal of Meerut-based Laser Point, so far Meerut has seen the installation of 20 used presses this year. Murlidhar Nalli, director of Hyderabad-based TGS, informed that the pan India installation of used machines in FY 2016–17 already stands close to 200 presses. Nalli, who distributes various new as well as used equipment, sold around 15 commercial offset presses this financial year. “Even at 200, we are behind last year’s number,” says Nalli.

South India has absorbed quite a few orders this year, with Heidelberg delivering some good punches there. Tiruvannamalai’s Subam Printers installed a brand new 4-color Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 74 press while Tamil Nadu based Rajam Digital has installed a Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 52 Anicolor press—the first in the state. Madurai’s Sree Vinayaga Screens has installed a Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 52 Anicolor press with coater. Interestingly, for Heidelberg, these companies have not only invested in brand new presses, but also in CtPs and other prepress equipment. A few cases in point are Rajam Digital, which invested in a Heidelberg Suprasetter A75 CtP and Sivakasi’s Shunmuga Thermal System, which has installed a Heidelberg Suprasetter CtP A106.

According to N Pradeep, Provin Technos has installed six RMGT presses over the last one month and are looking at more installations before the financial year ends on 31 March 2017. “This is a good year for us. We are close to achieving our target for this financial year,” says Pradeep. According to him, tier-2 and -3 cities are coming up significantly. “In fact, we have even installed our press in Vellore recently, which is a tier-3 city,” he shares. Provin has also installed a B2 size 4-color RMGT 760E press at Amrawati, a tier-3 city situated some 160 km from Nagpur. According to Pradeep, printers are not merely adding presses to fulfill existing and anticipated demand but are replacing their existing machines with better presses to improve quality and efficiency as well.

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