Mumbai-based Technicon is helping newspapers automate

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L-R: Mohammad Shazedul Islam, CFO, Barotopa Printers, Rajiv Gandotra of Technicon India and Abdullah Al Baki, chairman, Barotopa Printers
L-R: Mohammad Shazedul Islam, CFO, Barotopa Printers, Rajiv Gandotra of Technicon India and Abdullah Al Baki, chairman, Barotopa Printers

The newspaper industry has had a tough time in 2017 mainly because of the twin shocks of demonetization and then the introduction of the new tax regime of goods and services tax (GST). By early 2018, the economy had begun to settle down after the impact of demonetization and GST were mostly absorbed. However, at the same time the newspaper industry was faced with another major headwind in the form of rising cost of newsprint. Amid all this, Mumbai-based Technicon India has been working to help the newspaper industry cut cost by providing automation solutions such as inserters, overhead newspaper conveyors, counter stackers, under wrappers, plastic bundle wrappers, online sheet under layers, van loading telescopic loaders, flow turns and log stackers.

In the recent months, the company is working on an innovative and exciting product. It will further help newspapers automate their mailroom operations. This machine will help automate the process of sticking sample shampoo and similar type of pouches on newspapers. The process at present is being done manually and is a highly labor-intensive and time-consuming process.

Rising need for innovative advertising to generate revenue

“This will be a first-of-its-kind machine in the world; we have applied for a patent for the same. This machine will for the first time ever automate the process of sticking sample pouches and similar products,” says Rajiv Gandotra, founder of Technicon India.

With the newspapers facing severe cost pressures, it becomes imperative to look for avenues to generate revenue from newer sources. Technicon’s new machine that will be launched in September is one tool to generate revenue by adopting automation.

If newspapers have to boost their revenues and carry more advertisements, they will have to increase pages; according to Gandotra, it is not an easy job given the high cost of newsprint. Newspapers will now have to execute innovative advertising ideas such as inserting pouches, stick-ons, special inserts, etc.

Not only pouches but the same machine can also stick add-on advertising material such as die-cut pictures, cards, booklets and flat merchandise, among others. These products can be printed by third-party printers for better quality prints. “The quality of newspaper printing is still not at par with what brand owners desire. Now with this machine available, the advertisers can get their advertisements printed using high-quality printers and get them pasted in the newspapers. These advertisements can be given a 3-mm cardboard backing to achieve a 3D effect and real life feel. I believe this product will completely change and enhance the feel and experience of the reader,” Gandotra argues.

Technicon is currently in talks with leading dailies like The Times of India as well as multiple advertising agencies. The machine is expected to be in the market by the first half of September.

Big success in Bangladesh

Not only is Technicon India working on producing innovative solutions for the mailroom, the company has been notching up successes with its established products as well. Recently, the company bagged an order from Bangladesh to supply 13 stackers and 13 conveyers to Bangladesh-based book printer Barotopa. This is Technicon’s first entry into the Bangladesh market.

“Barotopa is our first customer in Bangladesh and we are very focused on executing this project successfully. We got this order thanks to Saurabh Gupta of Prakash Web. We will finish the project in another couple of months,” shares Gandotra.

Asked if Technicon is looking to further expand in the Bangladesh market, Gandotra says that the market is definitely growing. However, the company will only think of approaching other potential customers after it has completed the Barotopa project. “We would like this project to be the showcase project that we can pitch to other potential customers in Bangladesh,” he says.

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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