Times of India’s new TKS 4 x 1 press in production

Bennett-Coleman’s new plant in Manesar

The Times of India Manesar press production team. Second from right is the plant manager Suresh Bhandari. Photo IPP

India’s largest newspaper publisher, Bennett-Coleman has added one more full-fledged printing plant at IMT Manesar, which is south of Gurgaon. The company’s second plant in the Delhi National Capital Region has been in the works for over three years – originally conceived as a backup to the company’s massive plant in Sahibabad, which is adjacent to the eastern border of Delhi; and, secondly as a plant that can supply the company’s daily newspapers to the burgeoning city of Gurgaon. Bordering the western and southern parts of Delhi, Gurgaon has itself become one of the fastest growing and most cosmopolitan cities in the country. The new plant in Manesar adds immediate access to the nearby smaller cities and towns of Haryana and southwards to the Rajasthan border. Altogether, the Bennett-Coleman group has 14 newspaper printing plants of its own and also uses 28 contract printers across the country. In its largest plants there are mostly double-width double circumference (4 x 2) presses, while in its other main centers the company has double-width single circumference (4 x 1) presses. The group is known for its variety of newspaper innovations that include oversize pages and half-size pages called bookmarks, jackets, French windows and 4-page centerfolds that are glued in the press folder. It is also known for its UV printing capabilities of high impact glossy advertising on glazed newsprint for its leading broadsheet English daily, The Times of India. Since these innovations are offered to advertisers in multiple editions and markets across the country in The Times of India, a new plant has to be configured to efficiently meet these technical capabilities. While the TOI’s combined ABC January to June 2018 average qualifying sales circulation
Bennett-Coleman’s new plant in Manesar Times of India’s new TKS 4 x 1 press in production was 2.826 million copies, the circulations of the leading English national dailies have been flat if not declining over the past several years. In addition, the group publishes the Economic Times, which is the largest circulated national financial daily across the country and several Indian language dailies across the country that are region specific.

Ready to deliver high impact newspapers

On the ground level, the new purpose built plant in Manesar has an extensive reel storage space (check this https://onestopselfstorage.com/dayton-ohio site for options) that connects it to the five reel stands that are installed below the press table holding the five double-width single circumference TKS 5100 UDI 4-HI towers. The reel storage areas are cleverly built on a slight incline so that the 1270 mm diameter reels can simply be rolled downward to the reel stands without the need for forklifts or TGVs. The press table itself and structure are ready for the installation of an additional three towers in the near future. The 5-tower press was commissioned in the second half of September, and is currently run at 75,000 copies an hour every night although it has been thoroughly run at the full 80,000 copies an hour. The plant produces the Gurgaon editions of the group’s English and Hindi language dailies. In the prepress section it uses a pair of the latest Krause violet CtPs with a Nela optical punch and bender to produce mostly single broadsheet page plates that are mounted across the 4-page wide plate cylinder. The press is configured to use normal blankets without any packing.

The TKS 5100 UDI installed at TOI’s Manesar plant is fairly compact with a twin former folder with a 546 mm cut-off. The configuration allows the printing of 40 broadsheet pages in full color in a single section or in two separate sections that can be printed simultaneously and inserted one within the other in the folder itself. Ready copies are delivered to the Ferag pick-up and conveyor that brings the copies to the three stacker
bundlers and two full packaging lines in the mailroom which is at the despatching level.

The TKS press has QI’s mRP3D auto-registration and cut-off controls. In the next week or ten days, the press control room is to be equipped with color calibrated soft proofing monitors as well – an exercise that is taking place across all the company’s plants. The first tower of the press is equipped with full-width IST UV curing systems on both sides of the
last couple. The full-width curing systems mean that both sides of the first web of a newspaper section – all 8 pages – can be printed with UV inks on glazed newsprint. This is a high impact feature that drives many of the advertising innovations of the Times of India across the country. The press has several mechanical and operational features and controls that help to deliver the highest quality without stoppages or interruptions and with minimal wastage. Its uses TKS’s own and extremely efficient spray dampening system and segmented flaps each with their own motor in the ink fountain that allow good control of inking. The TKS also has some features that make it quite ready for reducing the web-width in case the group decides to slim down the format in the future.

Innovation, flexibility and yield

According to the Manesar plant manager Suresh Bhandhari, the fan-out control of the TKS is also excellent with the paper stretch being distributed over the full width of the web. Although it is early days with just three months of production, Bhandari finds the press extremely well engineered and easy to run by well trained and skilled press teams. Of course best practices have to be followed for maintaining the flexibility in pagination, high quality and consistency of print and low wastage that the group insists on. One saw the press running and the start-up and makeready are already in control without much wastage, although with longer runs and increased confidence in the coming days, the press is sure to meet the group’s most stringent wastage standards.

It is clear that Bennett-Coleman’s Manesar plant is built for the current climate in which page yield and efficiency are crucial. Moreover, it is ready for expansion in the near future. Although the Times of India can have as many as a 100 pages during holidays such as Diwali, on most days the 20 to 36 pages are strictly managed according to a judicious combination of editorial needs and advertising support.

According to Bhandari, “While impact and value need to be added to every page, newspaper printing plants have to be doubly careful of both capital and running costs. The Bennett-Coleman group believes that there is a future for printed newspapers and the building and commissioning of the new Manesar plant reinforces this belief.”

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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