Scaling productivity with Komori’s KP Connect

Interview – Sangam Khanna

Sangam Khanna of Komori India

In order to strengthen its business in India, Komori bought a major stake in the Insight Group – its sole dealer in the country before the acquisition. Ever since the joint operations began in April 2018, significant strategic organization has been taking place, according to Sangam Khanna, the deputy managing director of Komori in India.

From the market share point of view of new press units being purchased, we are currently placed at 48% and previously we were somewhere near 50%. There has been a slight drop in our market share this year. I don’t think a drop of around a percent or two here and there really matters much. The main reason is that some projects get deferred, but if one has a look at my order book, I’m pretty confident. We are walking into FY 2019-20 with substantial orders in our pocket.

Need for understanding technology and your own processes

The Indian printing industry is transforming. More printers are now talking about digital, H-UV systems, productivity, processes and various other factors, but we need to realize that its not enough to talk, one has to walk the talk as well and that will help the industry grow. We must keep in mind that one cannot buy every new technology that comes into the market. Printers must invest in a technology only after careful evaluation of the requirements. If you want to make the best use of the product that you are buying, you have to be very selective. But again, you should also keep in mind that just because ‘A’ has bought it or implemented a certain technology and is reaping benefits, it doesn’t mean it will work the same way for you. You have to have a deep insight into your processes and requirements and you must invest smartly,” says Khanna.

Khanna says that most of the press owners are tightening their belts for improving profitability. This, according to him brings up the fight on reducing profit margins, as most printers are dropping their prices in pursuit to deliver more. “It has to be measured on a numeric scale. Who’s going to do that? I visit a lot of printers throughout the year and this is one question I ask most of them. I ask them if their production is quantified on a numeric scale.”

KP Connect
As a solution to this problem, Komori came up with KP Connect which will be displayed at its stand at Printpack 2019. Komori’s KP Connect, helps measure productivity by quantifying production as well as wastage. Usually, prolonged wastage is ignored and is considered a part of the production process. In the long run, this wastage accounts for the maximum loss that a company incurs. Through this product, Komori aims to offer a correct diagnosis of the wastage on a daily basis which builds up to a significant amount in the long run.

Compared to the likes of IGAS, Drupa and China Print, I have not witnessed major changes in terms of new technology in events such as Printpack. The little changes witnessed here are mainly cosmetic or related to productivity. Quality enhancements and digital segment spectrum are definitely growing. Offset on the other hand has matured a lot in terms of new technologies. Hence, people are now talking about productivity and cost efficiency. That will be the trend for years to come,” Khanna explains.

Komori is extremely serious about its post-sales services and has deployed 54 engineers throughout the country at various locations. Ever since Komori India was created in April 2018, its first initiative was to pump-in factory level support and deploy an engineer from Japan to train its workforce.

Tracking down all customers and service contracts

Then the company took up a ‘I want to know my Komori’ campaign wherein it requested customers throughout the country to register their machines on the portal. This step helped to locate all the Komori users including used machine customers in the country. “Presuming, we have a scattered installation base of 3,500 presses all kinds throughout the country, it is not possible to provide after sales support in a matter of days. Nevertheless, if a press is under our service contract, we provide services within 48 hours. For us, the service contract is very important. In case a customer is not under our service contract, he can take an appointment and we will make sure we provide them the support they require,” Khanna shares.

The only issue affecting the printing industry is the lack of investment in new technology, according to Khanna, “There are so many old presses out there. The customers are happy doing only three or four make readys a day. Nobody can do anything about it. They buy junk, they pay for it which is just not worth it and I’m clueless as to why they do it. In order to compete, one has to have new technology. The junk will never help. The moment we try and initiate a change in our print fraternity, there is a resistance because for any change there is a cost involved and people are reluctant to pay it,” Khanna concludes.

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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