Bartaman orders a Cromoman 4 x 1

manroland web systems Cromoman for a language daily in India

Contract signing (l-r) Abhijeet Bhattacharjee, Amal Roy, Amit Roy, Subhojit Datta of Bartaman; and, Subir Paul and Sudeep Bhattacharjee of Manroland India

In line with successes in 2017, manroland web systems has clearly made another breakthrough in the Indian market—latest one being manroland’s recent sale of a three-tower Cromoman 4-1 press to one of the leading Bengali language newspapers, Bartaman. The web offset press has been sold with a Service Level Agreement and is the second Cromoman 4 x 1 to be sold to the Indian state of West Bengal—with the first one already running at Bennett-Coleman’s startup daily in Bengali, Ei Samay, for several years.

Founded in 1984, Bartaman Patrika is the second-most widely circulated Bengali newspaper in the country. Headquartered and published from Kolkata, the daily has three other simultaneous editions, published daily from the major towns of Siliguri, Burdwan and Midnapore in West Bengal.

The Cromoman 4 x 1 deal for Bartaman

Speaking on the breakthrough sale, Sudeep Bhattacharjee, managing director, manroland India stated, “This deal is very important for manroland web systems as it signals the entry of the Augsburg-based behemoth into the flourishing Indian language newspaper market. This helps assuage the feeling that manroland web systems is an expensive piece of machinery, not suitable for the regional newspaper market in India.” He went on to add, “The Indian language newspaper market is growing at a CAGR of more than 8%. Today 9 out of 10 top dailies in India are players in the regional space.”

The Cromoman 4 x 1 – a web offset press made for India

The Cromoman 4 x1 press was introduced to the Indian market over a decade ago and was specially designed for the requirements, perhaps some of the constraints, of the Indian market with power fluctuation tolerance and a compact size. It is seen as a reliable, high-speed, modular double-width single-circumference press for average run lengths between 250,000 and 400,000 copies daily.

With its reduced height, it is meant to fit into existing buildings and pressrooms that normally accommodated single-width presses with a clear view to reducing the capital cost of building new plants for double-width presses and mailrooms. The Cromoman was also designed from the start to work without a requirement for air conditioning the pressroom.

The ‘Made for India’ press is capable of running Indian manufactured newsprint at over 70,000 printing speeds, with an energy capturing and ordered machine slowing feature that avoids web severance or web breaks in case of power failure while running. Other features of the press include web width variability with ease of use and operation with slitting of the double width web on top of the towers and combining the two web ribbons into a single-width former and folder—a style of printing that is ubiquitous and familiar to Indian 2 x 1 web offset press operators.

Bartaman’s Cromoman

The manroland Cromoman coming to Bartaman’s Kolkata plant is a 3-tower 4 x 1 press capable of printing possibilities such as a single section of 24 broadsheet pages in full color or two sections consisting of 16 pages and 8 pages in full color. The press is also equipped with several automation systems. The Pecom-X control system offers the best possible technology for easy operation and short make-ready and changeover times. The press is likely to be installed in the coming 2018-19 financial year with the choice of mailroom vendor as yet undeclared.

manroland web systems already has the largest installed base of any manufacturer as far as double-width and high speed web offset presses in India. It has installed 28 web offset presses including 4 x 2 and 4 x 1 systems in recent years and 1 commercial heatset web offset press. We believe that Bartaman will be the fourth Cromoman installation in the country.

manroland web systems technology asserts that with its experience and strong footprint in the region, it can meet the high requirements of the fast growing Indian market, which is marked by numerous high-circulation print products. The company emphasizes its competitive advantage with a strong manroland web systems market and engineering organization in India based in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Our view

We have written earlier that there has been a surprisingly slow induction of 4 x 1 web offset presses by regional language dailies in the country although the technology is clearly efficient for them when any center exceeds 16 pages of broadsheet color for which both quality and volumes are required. The competition amongst the leading language dailies in every region is intense and with color pagination exceeding 16 pages during festival seasons and print runs exceeding 250,000, it would seem that the 4 x 1 route is the one to travel.

Thus far, dailies in South India publishing in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages have been most active in installing 4 x 1 presses from six manufacturers. A few 4 x 1 presses are there in Western and Northern India for Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi newspapers apart from the three big English dailies that also now publish language dailies of their own. With the recent sale of the Cromoman to Bartaman, the competitive situation amongst Bengali and all Indian language dailies becomes more apparent. We expect further 4 x 1 action amongst language dailies as the economy picks up in 2018-19 financial year.

Note: The heading and caption of this article have been slightly corrected on 16 February 2018

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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