Nutech – enhancing capacity for book production

Nutech adds TechNova CtP at Printpack 2019

Ravi Shroff, managing director of Nutech Print Services.

Nutech Print Services, a book printer based in Faridabad, prints and exports books of various kinds including large pagination books on thin substrates such as bible paper. This is a speciality print product of the company and in fact for Nutech, bible printing has become a major business category. In the last two years, the company has invested significantly in its production infrastructure and capacity building, including a 5-color Ryobi and Komori sheetfed offset perfecting presses, 2 Heidelberg folding machines, Aster sewing machine and a perfect binding line from Wolhenberg.

At Printpack 2019, Nutech purchased a brand new TechNova ThermoStar T9 – HS CtP, a 40 plate an hour machine that can make plates at resolutions from 2,400 dpi to 10,000 dpi. The ThermoStar T9 – HS uses laser square dot technology to produce dot quality result for frequency modulation (FM) screening. The new CtP supports dot sizes up to 20 microns for frequency modulation screening. Displayed at the TechNova stand at Printpack 2019, Nutech bought this machine on the second day of the show.

Nutech adds binding capacity

In it book bindery, Nutech has added capacity in most areas. Ravi Shroff, managing director of Nutech Print Services – India says,“Unlike in printing where you put a paper and you get the printed output, binding involves many processes which require some manual intervention. Hence, we bought a lot of smaller machines to automate these manual processes. Also, we recently added another casemaker. In addition, we invested in an Aster sewing machine and a Wohlenberg City perfect binding line in October 2018.

“A lot of additions have been happening and because of the growth in the company we have been experiencing the need to enhance our capacity. We have been experiencing good demand overall for our services. I don’t see the same happening across the market, but I do see growth for us because we are in specific product segments and out of our total turnover,  over 1/3rd of the turnover is coming through exports now.”

Nutech’s book printing exports

Currently, Nutech exports to nearly 90 countries. While Exports are difficult, Shroff believes that exports offer great advantage. Even if a particular market is down, one can always tap into another market or look for other segments within that market that can be explored in order to maintain the order book. Nutech exports to Africa, Europe, Australia, Latin America and parts of North America; in other words, everywhere but Asia.

“South East Asia is not a market for the Indian printers, there is a lot of printing capacity and there are many players who are extremely competitive . The print quantities are much larger in Africa as compared to India or most other countries for that matter. I’d even say that most of the markets behave similarly  in the print Quantities while Africa stands out.

“The trend in the last two to three years has shifted a bit. The earlier trend was for publishers to print more in a year not knowing it will sell or not and eventually pulping it. Today, instead of printing large quantities at once and warehousing it, most publishers prefer to take smaller runs and reordering It more times and the prefer to work with printers who have large capacities to order since most time the re-orders are placed at the last minute to fulfil the demand.” Shroff explains.

Growth in education and trade books

Unlike some other large book and commercial printing units across the country who are facing turbulent times, Nutech is pretty happy with the demand it has received over the last two years. The year 2018 was a unique case wherein there was a shortage of book paper locally. Paper demand was rising globally and local shortages meant that many printers suffered huge losses.

Nutech experienced growth in both the educational and trade book segments. “The Biggest problem is most printers don’t know what their cost is. Let us assume some printer is doing a particular job at Rs. X. There will be another printer ready to do the same job a Rs. X – Y. What he doesn’t realize is the cost incurred is not the same for everyone. Unless you know your own cost, you can keep chasing new customers by offering lower price and keep reducing the margins. But, that won’t give you profits, it will only help you gain customers at a loss. The mindset has to change,” explains Shroff. Lowest price can never be a USP – sooner or later someone new will come in the market who will quote lower prices to gain market share.

A challenging environment

Accordingly, it is pretty clear that if a printer plays the game blindly without realizing the real costs, they will keep going further into losses even if they invest in new machines. Purchasing new machines also needs a well thought out plan. Shroff points out that if a printer is investing in a brand new machine, and the work doesn’t require that kind of an investment, then it is an overkill. The cost structure, job and clientele need to be aligned to be able to stay afloat in this market.

In the last three years, Nutech has witnessed growth each year, but Shroff says that he doesn’t foresee any major capacity growth for the company in the coming 2019-20 financial year in which he is looking to merely stabilize the company’s internal systems further. He also thinks that the outcome of the forthcoming elections will have an impact on the industry. “I mean if there is a hung parliament, it kind of changes everything. Businesses react to the outcome of the election in a different manner. We are having a very careful ‘wait and watch’ approach as of now and we’re expecting a flat year for our business,” says Shroff.

Automation in postpress

In book production, one cannot start binding the book until one prints the last form of the book. “Assuming it is a book of 1,000 pages, you print the forms or sections sequentially and only when you print the last form you can collate the book together and bind it. Sometimes, you may be printing something for seven days and then you get a chance to put it together and make a product out of it. Here, you lose seven days in a cycle while customers grant compressed schedules. Binding is a traditionally slow process. Printing machines run at much faster speeds compared to the binding machines. Hence, you need to have more automation in the bindery,” Shroff shares.

Automation helps in doing more processes with better accuracy. Most printers in the Indian scenario don’t understand this and continue to use many manual processes. As the cost of labor is rising as it is bound to in every developing economy, it is extremely important to have automation to improve your processes.

At the same time, binding machines are expensive. Unlike printing where purchasing one machine helps print all kinds of books, binding requires investment in a variety of machines for discrete, unique and essential binding processes. Thus, the bindery should generally be considered a cost center. As a printer, one has to have all the processes in-house to cater to different needs of the customer.

I think the government also needs to change its investment policy to help the smaller printers to grow. The problem here is that the capital is available for the larger companies, and the banks support them which is not the same with the smaller companies whose struggles never seem to end. Banks after doing due diligence must have faith in the smaller companies and help them by providing adequate funds. This needs to happen for companies to adopt automation and invest in better, more productive equipment,” Shroff 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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