Two book printers buy new 74 cm 4-colors

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Debi Prasad Sharma with the new Heidelberg press at Sharma Publications facility in Cuttack

Heidelberg has strengthened its footprint of new multicolor offset presses in the eastern part of the country with book publishers and book printers who continue to modernize their plants to achieve  high quality and efficiency in color production. Jyotishman Das, owner of Balaji Books from Guwahati, installed a Heidelberg SM 74 4-color offset press last year. Das says, “We are quite satisfied with the performance of the newly installed press. We looked at other options before finalizing the Heidelberg and even at the 36-inch Lithrone, but since we also take up government and local publishers’ textbook work, I felt that size is not the best suited for us. That is the reason why we decided to go with a Heidelberg SM74.”

Installed at Balaji’s plant in March 2017, the experience in the past year is that the SM74, which prints at 15,000 sheets an hour, is helping the company take up more and more orders. The pressroom also contains an Akiyama Bestech 32-inch 4-color and an HMT 32-inch double-color press. In prepress there is a Kodak thermal CtP while the postpress contains a a Welbound 6-clamp perfect binder amongst the usual complement of finishing equipment.

Das admits that he was influenced by the strength of the Heidelberg brand and strong service support. “The brand reputation, faster changeover time and the life of the machine are some of the most important factors that influenced this purchase. Also, in comparison to the Lithrone, this machine fulfilled our purpose better and is more cost-effective,” adds Das.

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Jyotishman Das with the new Heidelberg Press in Guwahati

He says that the industry has picked up in Guwahati with packaging companies such as TCPL and Huhtamaki starting their operations in the city. If all goes well, he says that his company will also look at entering the packaging segment in coming days as there is considerable scope in that segment just as there is the commercial printing segment.

Cuttack-based Sharma Publications installs two Heidelbergs
Cuttack publisher Sharma Publications also installed a Heidelberg press as recently as the beginning of March 2018. “Actually, we bought two Heidelbergs recently. One is an offset printing machine and the other is a CtP machine. We got the CtP machine mainly for setting up an in-house prepress unit,” says Debi Prasad Sharma, owner of Sharma Publications.

Sharma Publications was formerly known as The Book World (TBW). TBW, a well-known name in the state of Odisha, was primarily a publisher of government text and children’s books. The company changed its name to Sharma Publications in the year 2001 and began publishing its own books. It now has over 110 titles in its list of children’s books, text books and reference books.

When the company became a publisher, it purchased a brand new TPH Orient 4-color web offset press. As the company and demand grew, it bought two second-hand sheetfed presses, a Mitsubishi 5-color offset press and a Planeta double-color.

The company sold the Planeta to buy a new Heidelberg SX 4-color offset press. The machine was installed just a month ago and after initial trial runs, the press is now in full-fledged production. The pressroom contains two 4-color TPH Orient presses, while the postpress department runs two Welbound 6-clamp perfect binding machines and a Trident 3-knife trimmer.

“We opted for Heidelberg mainly because of its brand value and the ease of operation it offers with quick changeovers. We did look at other options as well. To be honest, only the Lithrone is an option, but the Heidelberg press is really cost-effective and hence we decided to go with it,” Sharma adds.

Sharma Publications also has a branch office in Jaipur, Rajasthan for book sales. Apart from book publishing, Sharma Publications entered the agricultural sector three years ago.

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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