Konica Minolta buys A2Z license from PM Digital

Made in India A2Z prepress software gains traction

Konica Minolta
P Chellappan, partner and chief technologist, PM Digital Products

Chennai-based PM Digital Products has always been at the forefront of digitalization and an early adopter of new technology. The company’s partner and chief technologist P Chellappan asked the in-house software engineering team to develop an application to not only make prepress work more efficient but also save labor and costs. The software, A2Z PDF, has been a dream project for Chellappan, who himself went through brief learning of the PDF format to help shape the software into what it is today. After beta testing at customer sites for over six months, A2Z PDF is now a fully functional prepress software that can help printers cut down on the time spent on prepress work by days.

“Not only does it help save time, but it also cuts down on labor costs. What would earlier take three people to work on, is being done by just two people with the software and that too in a matter of minutes,” says Chellappan.

Eager to market the software, Chellappan spoke to Konica Minolta whose team carefully evaluated it and finally gave an approval. The company bought a license to the software about a month back and is now taking it to its own customers, who are mostly using it for book production and for page formatting, resizing and imposition.

“Getting approval from Konica Minolta itself was a breakthrough for us. It shows their confidence in the product. They found the software extremely useful and are even suggesting it to their own customers, which I feel will help market our product better. Even at our end, we have been using it regularly. So whenever we find something that is lacking in the software or something that needs fixing or an upgrade, we do it immediately and offer the same to our customers at no additional cost. In general, whatever needs to be done to make the software faster and to reduce the workload on the prepress technicians, we are doing it and are not charging for the same,” shares Chellappan.

Many potential customers are showing a keen interest in the software. For instance, there is a customer from Madurai, from the photo lab industry, which has purchased six licenses, indicating that printers are beginning to see and understand the benefits that A2Z offers.

According to Chellappan, the product is shaping up very well and he is confident it will catch up fast with customers. One of the main reasons he feels it will do well is because every digital printer needs people to get the files ready for print and invariably customers are not willing to pay for the labor and time involved in doing the job; all they want is the final printed job. So, a printer cannot afford to make a person spend a lot of time doing one particular task.

This is where A2Z PDF comes in handy and saves a lot of time, thereby increasing productivity. Also, prepress errors that would occur with manual intervention are greatly reduced using the software. It offers 100% accuracy in measurement precision, an imposition of pages and more. It also optimizes the number of pieces one prints on a sheet of paper. One does not need to depend on an individual’s efficiency, knowledge or judgment. There could a judgment error while imposing; all that is taken care of by this software. Moreover, the software is extremely user-friendly; it doesn’t need a highly skilled person to operate it. “It is self-explanatory and extremely easy to use. So, I would say this software is more of a necessity than a luxury for a printer to have,” he says.

Many features, one license

The software offers 12 categories, which further contain sections with several useful features—a range one can normally expect only with a combination of several software licenses. The categories such as Impose pages for saddle stitch, Add numbers, text or variable data; and Add blank pages anywhere you need are self-explanatory and once selected, perform the task throughout the project with a few clicks in a matter of minutes. Other options include Create N-Ups for all pages; Impose pages for saddle stitch; Impose pages to print one copy; which is used for printers to print a sample copy; Impose folded and custom signatures; Tile pages larger than print size, Join many pages to form one page, Split a single page into two or more; Add numbers, text or variable data; Scale, rotate and resize pages; Extract, delete, reverse or duplicate pages; Add blank pages anywhere you need; and, Combine several PDF files into one.

Priced at Rs. 35,000 per license, Chellappan says there has been some resistance on the part of customers in buying the software. “Most of the printers are extremely conscious about brand names. They either opt for a Fiery or PREPS. It takes time to break the ice but I am sure once they see a demo of our software, they will see how it is capable of doing much more in terms of assisting a person to perform a job faster. Fiery and other software might have other advantages but as far as the work areas covered by this software, in terms of imposition, editing or modifying a PDF file, A2Z is far superior to any other competing product in the market. Even in terms of cost, if you look at other software, their price runs into lakhs while our product is extremely economically priced. So, the hesitation will slowly fade away when people start recognizing the advantages of this one-time investment,” Chellappan concludes.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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