Indian web offset manufacturers show signs of recovery

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Indian web offset manufacturers show signs of recovery
Harish Bansal

There are more than a dozen Indian web offset press manufacturers—all of whom produce two broadsheet pages wide by a single page in circumference (2 x 1) presses for both domestic consumption and exports. The exception is Manugraph which, apart from being one of the largest manufacturers of 2 x 1 presses globally, also manufactures a 4 x 1 press. Recent news suggests that the majority of the web offset press manufacturers including Manugraph, TPH, Prakash, Pressline, KK Printing, NBG, Sigmarq, HM Web and Naph Graphics have a reasonable to good number of orders on hand after a flat or negative performance over the past three years.

The past three years have been a struggle with two of the better known press manufacturers closing their factories for various reasons. Demonetization and GST did hurt newspaper ad revenues and depressed the market for new presses. Moreover, it also cannot be denied that amongst some of the predominantly family owned press manufacturers, succession issues persist. The past year also saw a 4-month strike at Manugraph but the company is now back in production at a good clip with orders through a good part of the next year.

Web offset manufacturers in the Delhi/NCR (Faridabad and Noida) and in Kohlapur are busy again with towers and folders for newspaper and book presses. Insiders say that about 50 book presses mainly consisting of a single 4-Hi tower and a folder are currently on order for delivery in the next six months. Apart from these, some new newspaper presses in 5- and 6-tower configurations continue to roll out while there is also a significant demand for additional towers for presslines already in the field.

Naph Graphics
A recent visit to Naph Graphics’ two plants in Noida and Greater Noida revealed that the company has just delivered two 6-tower plus folder press lines to a newspaper in Nepal. The company, which operates on an extremely lean basis by combining its own machining and assembly with components outsourced from reliable suppliers, is generally busy producing a combination of newspaper towers and book presses with quality design features that allow for increased automation options.

Naph 1Mohit Bansal, director-marketing, Naph Graphics

The 546 mm cut-off continues to dominate the newspaper lines while in the book industry, the cut-off oscillates between 508 and 578 mm. Naph’s book presses are generally supplied with the company’s own manufactured and extremely economical log-stacker. In fact, the log-stacker is often used by book printers with other web offset machines.

Naph produces extremely compact 4-Hi towers containing a reelstand below—all within a height of 14 feet. The press design is based on diagonally staggered cylinders for a short web path with improved positive web traction for superior registration on successive blanket couples. Its book presses have one of the fastest quarter folders available without compromising the overall press speed. A double parallel

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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