Dinamalar in Coimbatore

Continuous automation in newspaper production

Goss Uniliner S 4x1 double width, single circumference web offset press was installed at Dinamalar’s Coimbatore plant in 2016. Photo IPP
Goss Uniliner S 4x1 double width, single circumference web offset press was installed at Dinamalar’s Coimbatore plant in 2016. Photo IPP

The Dinamalar plant in Coimbatore prints six editions for the city and adjoining areas. To keep pace with its growing circulation and readership, it purchased a second-hand Goss Uniliner S double-width web offset press in 2016. The press came from the Deccan Chronicle’s Bengaluru plant, where it was installed in 2008, and fitted well with Dinamalar’s urgent need for a 4×1 press in Coimbatore. While looking out for a brand new TKS or Mitsubishi 4×1 press, the company learnt of the local availability of the Goss double-width single circumference Uniliner S. It decided to buy it since it was fairly new, by newspaper press standards.

During our visit to the Dinamalar Coimbatore plant, Sarvanan Krishnan, the head of the plant, shed light on various aspects, including the company’s plan to set up a 500-meter-long guiding path for conveying the reels manually from the warehouse to the plant. There are plans to set up automated reel storage and retrieval system and to install an automatic reel weighing system. Automation, print efficiencies and waste reductions are obsessions at Dinamalar.

All the three plants of Dinamalar in Madurai, Coimbatore and Chennai now have high-performance 4×1 web offset presses. The prepress features high performance CtP devices and optical punch bending. The press rooms have automated ink-pumping systems, Ferag mailroom equipment and Hitech Robotics AGVs for paper reel movement are used in the plant near Chennai. In the Coimbatore plant, the company also has a Manugraph Hiline 2×1 web offset press purchased from Malayama Manorama in 2002, from which the printed copies are evacuated by a Ferag mailroom system.

The three plants in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore are also capable of producing UV-cured glossy print on glazed newsprint, which is a significant competitive edge with advertisers in the region. Each plant is also run with great attention to reducing wastage. On average, Dinamalar’s Coimbatore plant uses 16 to 18 tons of newsprint on weekends and nearly 13 tons of newsprint on weekdays. The consumption usually goes up on weekends as it prints a 32-page edition along with supplements. Dinamalar also prints three magazines at Coimbatore.

The Uniliner S 4×1 press has a total printing capacity of 32 pages and can print 24 pages in full process color. Each of the three 4-Hi towers can print 8 pages in full color at a time. Hence, on days when the company prints a 24-page edition, it uses three towers for printing color only. With the use of a fourth reel stand, the Uniliner’s third tower is used for printing two webs in single color on days that a 32-page edition is required in one section. This generally happens on weekends, when the newspaper produces a 32-page edition with increased color advertising.

Both the Goss and Manugraph presses are automated with Ferag mailroom equipment. While the Manugraph 2×1 press is capable of printing 45,000 broadsheet copies an hour, the Goss press can print up to 75,000 broadsheet copies an hour. Dinamalar uses the Manugraph Hiline mostly to print supplements with the Ferag conveyor extending to the first floor, where most of the inserting and assembling of the supplements is undertaken.

In order to recycle some of its older presses, Dinamalar reconfigured its old Manugraph Y printing to increase the number of color pages that it can print at one time. Dinamalar added eight Y-units in 2002 and thereafter added two C-unit to two pairs of Y-units for facilitating back-to-back 4-color printing. One Highline tower was added to the press in 2005 and a second tower was added in 2012. Thereafter, a UV curing system for color printing on glazed newsprint was added for the front and back pages of a section or supplement.

In the future, Dinamalar plans to add a label dispensing unit to its Ferag mailroom. Some of the innovations tried by Dinamalar at its plant in Coimbatore include the introduction of flap and bookmark pages for the daily.

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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– Naresh Khanna

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