Rajams Digitals – an early adopter of Heidelberg’s subscription model

Chennai gets its first Speedmaster SX74

GN Visvakumar, managing director, Rajams Digital, is the first printer in Chennai to install the Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74. Photo IPP

The decade-old Chennai-based Rajams Digital is already a well-known and established commercial printer in the region. Working in both the offset and digital printing segments of the market, which often overlap, it has a Heidelberg SX 52 Anicolor press, an HP Indigo 1050, a Komori Lithrone and a Xerox 4112 press in the pressroom. It is a complete plant with quality equipment and technology for prepress and finishing and binding all under a single roof. The prepress contains a Heidelberg Suprasetter CtP and the postpress section has laminators, perfect binders and a Polar cutting machine.

In September 2018, Rajams Digital installed a Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74 through Heidelberg’s indigenous subscription model. In addition to the Heidelberg 4-color sheetfed offset press, the company also installed a Konica Minolta Accurio 6120 color production digital press. Says GN Visvakumar, managing director of Rajams Digital, “Basically, we were looking at replacing our old Komori press, which was a 1991 model. We were not getting the desired results out of it and were keen on having a new machine to replace it with. With growing market demand for quantity as well as quality, there was a dire need for a quick upgradation. So, we had several options in mind. We looked at another Komori press, we looked at options from RMGT and also several Heidelberg models. This is when we came across Heidelberg’s subscription model and we immediately knew this would be the perfect choice for us.”

According to Visvakumar, the press met the company’s sales and production targets in the very first month of its installation, thus proving it to be the ideal choice for Rajams Digital. “We wanted to get more orders of 20 x 30 inches size and with the installation of the SX 74, we have been able to target that segment quite effectively,” he shares.

The Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 74 combines the technology of the Speedmaster XL class with the proven performance of the SM platform. Designed for ergonomic operation, the press is capable of producing shorter make-ready and throughput times, with production speeds of up to 15,000 sheets per hour.

Heidelberg’s subscription model

According to Rajams Digital’s subscription deal with Heidelberg, it will only provide the place, power and manpower and Heidelberg, which remains the owner of the press, will take care of everything related to the press. “We need not worry about lubricants, inks, plates or anything. All that will be taken care of by Heidelberg,” says Visvakumar.

The subscription deal is for five years and includes a fixed monthly charge for usage with a set number of impressions as part of the offering. It took Rajams Digital a good six months to finalize the deal with Heidelberg, during which the two companies discussed the job sales, marketing and production requirements to help zero in on the prefect model. Now that the press has been installed and has been running to the satisfaction of Visvakumar, he says he is looking to do around 10 lakh impressions per month on the Speedmaster SX 74. “We are not only looking at better turnaround but also improved production, superior job quality and less wastage. Plus, with the subscription model, we do not have to worry anymore about the maintenance part now,” he concludes.

Currently, the company gets 80% of its business from the commercial segment and the remaining 20% from the photo-book segment.

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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