Patna’s Balajee Offset plans to strengthen its binding section

Brand new Komori Lithrone A37 installed two years ago

Amar Verma, proprietor of Balajee Offset with Komori Lithrone A37. Photo IPP

Patna-based educational book printer Balajee Offset, which started operations in October 2017, is planning to upgrade its binding department by bringing in more automatic machines in order to enhance the efficiency of its finishing division. Balajee Offset currently prints only educational books using a Komori Lithrone A37 offset press, which the company bought brand new when it started operations two years ago.

“With the Komori Lithrone A37, our printing section has become extremely capable but we are facing a bottleneck in our binding sector, which is not able to cope up with the printing volumes. To overcome this issue, we will be bringing in more automatic machines. We will start installing these machines starting next financial year, which is March 2020,” says Amar Verma, proprietor of Balajee Offset.

At present, Balajee Offset’s binding department has basic Indian-made equipment, such as gluing machines, stitching machines, folding machines, and cutting machines. The company employs ten people in its printing and binding sections. Balajee Offset operates the press in one 12-hour shift every day for the full year.

Talking about his experience with Komori, Verma says that the two years have been very good not only because the quality of the Komori technology is exceptional but also because the after-sales service is up to the mark. “The best part about dealing with Komori is that whenever we have faced an issue and have requested assistance, the engineer is at our site within 12 hours,” he shares.

Although strengthening the binding sector is the topmost agenda in the near term, Verma shares that he may opt for another offset press one year down the line, instead of running the Komori Lithrone A37 for a 24-hour shift.

“Yes, as volumes grow, we will need to add capacity but our philosophy is that one press should be operated by one operator only. Therefore, if and when we need to increase our printing capacity, we will go for a new press rather than utilize the Lithrone A37 beyond its 12-hour shift. Anyway, we do not plan to buy another press for at least one more year,” Verma says.

Patna printers need to invest in technology

With the growth in the economy of Bihar in the last decade or so, print demand has also expanded, especially in Patna. However, Verma believes, printers in the city have not invested in technology and therefore are not able to offer quality work.

“Patna’s economy has grown multiple times in the last ten years and so it has the potential to become a printing hub. There is scope for growth in both educational book printing as well as commercial printing segments here. However, printers have not invested in technology and therefore the print quality that they offer is not up to the mark. There are just a handful of printers in such a big city who can offer quality. For example, there are just a few Komori offset presses here,” he says.

Verma argues that unless printers invest in quality, customers will keep on demanding basic work. Customers who want to get special work done opt to get it printed from printers in Delhi.

“Printers here have the impression that there is not enough work in Patna. However, there is room for many more quality printers. They will need to develop the market by offering quality. Customers will come,” Verma 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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