Automation built around Goss Uniliner S 4 x1 press

Goss Uniliner S 4 x 1 web offset press at Dinamalar’s new plant in Oragadam. Photo IPP
Goss Uniliner S 4 x 1 web offset press at Dinamalar’s new plant in Oragadam. Photo IPP

Dinamalar is keeping pace with the strong competition for circulation amongst continued growth in readership for Tamil dailies, both amongst local readers and Tamil Nadu’s highly literate diaspora. Including its attempts to enhance its digital presence with a new editorial system from Anygraaf, Dinamalar has made significant investments in print and automation technology as well as infrastructure in the past six years.

It has built two new greenfield plants in Madurai and in Oragadam industrial estate just outside Chennai while the modernization at Coimbatore is based on the renovation of a newsprint warehouse that the company already owned. Since the company’s technical and marketing director L Adimoolam is an environmental engineer, all the plants have put solar lighting systems and extensive water treatment and recycling plants. Apart from these, 50kw roof top solar power rooftop projects are underway at all four plants including Puducherry.

Dinamalar’s Madurai, Coimbatore and Chennai plants now have high-performance 4 x 1 web offset presses with automated plate-making and punch bending, remote ink-pumping, AGV robotic reel movement and mailroom systems. These plants can flexibly deliver high-quality newspapers including UV cured glossy print on glazed newsprint with low wastage. The company has gone all out in implementing new technology and automation while being environmentally proactive.

Dinamalar put its first 4 x 1 press in a brand new plant in Madurai just seven years ago – a Manugraph Smartline 4 x 1 press with Technotrans spray bars and a Ferag mailroom system. As a policy, the publisher does not use plastic wrappers for newspaper bundles and employs Technicon India’s automated 3/4th paper wrapper devices and telescopic conveyors that push strapped bundles of newspapers directly from the back of the truck to the dispatch platform edge without manual intervention.

Dinamalar’s technical and marketing director, L Adimoolam. Photo Dinamalar
Dinamalar’s technical and marketing director, L Adimoolam. Photo Dinamalar

At its Coimbatore and Oragadam SIDC (near Chennai) plants, the company purchased the recent model Goss Uniliner S 4 x 1 presses that became locally available. While the Goss Uniliner S 4 x 1 in Coimbatore was installed in 2016, the Uniliner S at the greenfield Oragadam site was installed in 2017.

All three of Dinamalar’s 4 x 1 presses consist of three 4-Hi towers and four reelstands for full color reproduction of 24 pages and up to 32 pages with 16 pages in full color in a single section. Since all the 4 x 1 presses use spray dampening bars, there is no return of waste water to the dampening system. In fact, at Oragadam, even the water expelled by the RO plant is combined with local raw water for reuse by totally automated monitoring and blending system.

The webbing up process of the Unliner has been speeded up with in-house engineering improvements. GEW UV curing systems are installed on top of the second 4-Hi tower for printing high-quality glossy color on glazed newsprint, which is demanded by the market especially. Dinamalar has started using 6 lamp heads for UV curing at speeds as high as 65,000 copies an hour.

Gluing systems are in place for creating ten types of innovations using flaps and windows that have become a rage amongst Indian dailies. A well-designed marketing booklet illustrates these marketing opportunities to brand owners and ad agencies.

Reel handling and movement is now almost completely automated with a hoist used for unloading reels at the input dock, reel lifts used for stacking and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) used for delivering the reels from the warehouse to the reelstand autosplicers on the press. Dinamalar has tried to implement everything that it has learned and experienced as far as improving print quality and eliminating time, labor, paper, water and energy wastage. All material movement and logistics are increasingly automated requiring single person operation using specially located magnetic hoists such as for the 200 kilogram ink and chemical drums. barrels unloading of ink and chemical drums – with one man operation started. Even the lighting throughout the plant is activated by movement sensors.

The company is in the process of implementing Techniweb automated blanket cleaning systems that can clean the press blankets without breaking the paper web or completely stopping the web. Done at a press speed of 9,000 copies an hour, the web is sprayed with Techniweb’s blanket washing solution which cleans the blankets in mid run, let’s say after 80,000 copies in one minute and after complete edition in 3 minutes. We talk to Dinamalar at least twice a year, and its newsprint wastage, which is meticulously and precisely monitored, continues to be amongst the lowest in the Indian newspaper industry.

Newsroom at Dinamalar in Chennai. Photo IPP
Newsroom at Dinamalar in Chennai. Photo IPP

New edit system and the omni-channel space
Dinamalar has over the years attempted to provide unique types of visual and reference content for its online constituencies. At the same time, it is continuously grappling with integrating technologies to present its content in multiple channels as well as the analytics and monetization. In this direction it invested in the Anygraaf editorial system in 2016. With servers in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Puducherry installed at the beginning of 2016 and running an Open Source relational database, the Anygraaf software went online in Chennai by July 2016.

Anygraaf has its own word processor and story editor that use Unicode for Tamil in the WebNeo and Neo-editor clients. The editorial workflow is much the same as in other dailies while photographs and captions are uploaded to the server using Dinamalar’s own photo app. After editorial selection in the Anygraaf Neo editor, the required images go for correction and are placed in predefined modular templates. As the stories are dropped into the Adobe InDesign templates, they automatically fit. Print content can be XML tagged and exported by Anygraaf to the websites just as web first stories and then sent to the print editions. All changes in the print pages are also saved in the Neo editor.

Display ads are checked using Assura software and manually placed in the pages. Chennai-based Cadgraf, which is the Anygraaf agent for India and has assisted the project particularly with the Tamil dictionary for spell checking, is also working on customizing the Anygraaf automated ad placement system for Dinamalar.

In the past, Dinamalar has come up with several apps for ad marketing and like many news organizations around the world has a penchant for developing software. It is currently launching a new software development company to support media content delivery called Curveball Technology. Curveball has an interesting ePaper solution that incorporates animation features that dynamically display images and videos on ePaper pages.

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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