Kolbus partners with Manroland Sheetfed India

Kolbus is back and with luxury and corrugated cartons

Neeraj Dargan, managing director, Manroland Sheetfed India, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH, and Kamal Vyas, general manager, Manroland Sheetfed India.
Neeraj Dargan, managing director, Manroland Sheetfed India, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH, and Kamal Vyas, general manager, Manroland Sheetfed India.

Kolbus, based in Rahden, Germany, was the globally dominant supplier of book binding machinery and systems with a strong footprint in India, including the major book printing exporters. In January 2018, it sold the bookbinding systems to MullerMartini. Today, Kolbus has renewed its India activities with a sales and distribution partnership with Delhi-based Manroland Sheetfed India. Manroland Sheetfed will provide engineering and maintenance services for the Kolbus book case production and embossing, stacking, folding, and box case processing line for luxury machines including their previous models in the country while Kolbus, which continues to provide spare parts for many of its older machines, will supply these.

At a recent meeting at the Manroland Sheetfed office in West Delhi, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH said, “Thanks to a partner like Manroland Sheetfed, Kolbus will now also provide service for casemakers and packaging machines; and in order to do that effectively, it is important to have engineers in the country. After-sales service is an important part of installing a machine.”

Luxury carton boxes made by Kolbus box making machine.
Luxury carton boxes made by Kolbus box making machine.

Kolbus has divested most of its binding equipment to Muller Martini to fully concentrate on casemaking and packaging machinery. “We see new scope for casemakers for the book industry. We have been selling casemakers for more than 50 years and with the right partner, it will regain recognition in the Indian market. In the last 20 years, we have sold more than 25 new casemakers in India and the number is much higher if you take into account the used machines. As for our packaging machines, we aim to become a well known brand in the industry,” Schulte said.

Kolbus, a company that dates back to 1775, started its venture into the packaging industry more than years ago. Part of that is a subsidiary company in the US called Hycorr, which makes equipment for flexo printing and rotary die-cutting of corrugated cartons. In 2018, Kolbus acquired UK-based box machine producer BCS Autobox Machinery, which produces very exciting modular equipment lines for short- and medium-run corrugated cartons including flexo and digital printing options.

Nevertheless, Kolbus remains a vertically integrated precision engineering company with a foundry, a parts manufacturing unit and a warehouse that are a all part of the Kolbus headquarters in Rahden, near Hanover. Its research and development activity is mainly in Rahden but also conducted in Krostitz near Leipzig as well as the Kolbus Autobox plant in the UK and its Hycorr plant in the USA. As of today, the company still produces parts for Kolbus book binding machines assembled and sold by Muller Martini.

Discussing the Kolbus plans for the near future in India, Neeraj Dargan of Manroland Sheetfed India said, “We already have experienced electrical engineers at Manoroland Sheetfed who can maintain Kolbus casemakers but we are still building up on the mechanical part. The mechanical engineers need to be trained at Kolbus Germany. Our plan is to get them trained before the first installation of a new Kolbus casemaking machine in India. We strongly believe that it will happen before drupa 2020.”

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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