Indu Photos installs KM c6085 with IQ 501

Continuous cash flow helps digital printing business

R Sudarsanan of Indu Photos recently installed a new Konica Minolta c6085with IQ 501 color calibration unit. Photo IPP

Kochi-based Indu Photos started off in a rented unit in 1993. Back then, R Sudarsanan had only a Canon photocopy machine. Observing growth in business and a need to relocate to a bigger printing plant, Sudarsanan moved to a new plant in the heart of the city. Currently, Indu has two plants in Kochi – one dedicated to digital printing, which is overseen by Sudarsanan himself, and the other for monocarton production, which is looked after by his sons.

Recently, Indu Photos bought a brand new Konica Minolta c6085 digital printing press with the IQ 501 print enhancement unit. “With this press, we are printing close to 65,000 copies on a monthly basis. In addition to this, we have a Konica Minolta 6120 monochrome printer. The daily production on the monochrome printer is much higher as compared to that on the c6085 press currently.

Relevance of IQ 501 for Indu Photos

Sudarsanan bought the KM c6085 press for value-added printing work. “I made sure that I purchase it with the IQ 501 unit in order to supply value-added printed work even though I had space constraints and there was a 7% increase in the cost because of the retrofit,” he says.

The advantages of IQ 501 include precise front and back registration, in-built photospectrometers, and scanners that help to create profiles for each media, including laser matt opaque film (LMO) or any other special media. For varying base and substrates, one can create its own profile. This helps gain consistent print quality. “Also, thanks to the IQ 501, the color and density of the first sheet and the hundredth sheet remains the same,” adds Sudarsanan.

This has reduced workload and effort on the operator. Previously, the operator had to take many precautions but the IQ 501 is like a robot that prints as per the command given to it. I’m pretty sure that our business will flourish with this new press. Although I have a space constraint at this plant, I made sure I take the IQ 501 retrofit as it would help me in the long run,” Sudarsanan says.

Packaging in Kerala still at a nascent stage

According to Sudarsanan, commercial printing isn’t profitable anymore. Nevertheless, he has been using the presses for printing monocartons. “Packaging is still at a nascent stage in Kerala. We majorly get demand from the local confectionery shops and footwear brands,” he explains.

The main benefit of digital printing, according to Sudarsanan, is that it brings in continuous cash flow. On the other hand, the offset plant is facing hiccups because there is no direct payment in that business. He believes that though monocarton packaging is a roaring business, the untimely payment structure makes it an uncertain proposition.

Another supporting factor is the click charge contract on which Konica Minolta offers its presses. It has given us a huge benefit. That way, the responsibility of the press is entirely on KM. Their service team is also very responsive and attend the issues at hand pretty soon. My future investment will surely be a Konica Minolta again.

Operating an offset press is much complicated than operating a digital one. An offset press requires regular maintenance as well. With this press under fasma, KM is taking care of the maintenance and I’m simply doing business,” he adds.

According to Sudarsanan, the print volume on the new c6085 is increasing month-on-month. Indu replaced its old Xerox 2100 with the new Konica Minolta c6085 digital press. “People say that the print volumes are decreasing. Most of the copy shops near my unit shut down owing to a sharp fall in volumes but I have never experienced it. In fact, as I said, my print volume is increasing on a monthly basis. And with Christmas and New Year around the corner, I think the demand in the next two months will skyrocket,” Sudarsanan 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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