Nikkan Pro Sports boosts newspaper production with Tecnau Newsready

Faster and more streamlined production process

NewsReadt application Tecnau newspaper
NewsReadt application Tecnau newspaper

Nikkan Pro Sports Newspaper launched the first sport newspaper in Japan in 1947. Since then, the company has focused on publishing and selling track cycling newspapers and later on by also providing the same information to the web. The group has grown over the years and it counted 64 employees in 2014 with the main headquarters located in Tokyo. The Nikkan mission is to provide information to readers in the shortest time possible to keep them updated on the latest news. The company has always been publishing-specific forecast newspapers for bicycle races, which soon gained immense popularity among the fans.

With races being held every day of the year, our company publishes prediction newspapers non-stop 24/7 and delivers them to the race-track. In recent years, we made use of corner stores and the internet to expand this circulation, but readers still prefer printed publications. With increased demand, we faced a real time-to-market challenge,” explained Takeuchi, chief executive officer, at Nikkan Pro Sports.

The company publishes two types of newspapers, one delivered daily to the readers and the other once a week. The daily newspaper started out originally being called Keirin Shinbun, which means track cycling newspaper, but it had its name changed soon after. The red lettering used for the title made a huge impression on the fans, who called the newspaper Akakei from the very beginning (“aka” means red in Japanese). For this reason, the name was officially changed. Among other track cycling prediction newspapers, the advantage of the Akakei is its easy accessibility (it can be purchased over the internet and in the ubiquitous convenience stores).

The weekly newspaper, called Pro Sports, is a 16-page folded booklet published on Wednesdays. It mainly consists of predictions about races taking place one week to 10 days from publication. Included inside are also visitor attendance counts, profits per race and statistics of top cyclists based on a “leg strength index”, which is a specific Nikkan Pro Sports calculation method.

At Nikkan, newspapers must be published and delivered within a limited time frame. For this compelling reason, the company decided to speed up and streamline the production process by minimizing paper handling and operations.

To achieve this goal, Nikkan installed a digital finishing Tecnau NewReady solution inline to a Screen TruePress Jet520HD Series High-Definition Inkjet Web Press inside the factory in Tokyo. “This efficient solution produces finished applications in a single process from white paper rolls to printed multi-page folded booklets,” says Thomas Olofsson, area manager for Asia Pacific and Nordic Europe at Tecnau. “Compared to the offset printer previously used, the customer is now able to print all the pages in full color and has been able to reduce production time and labor,” he adds.

Tecnau NewsReady cuts and accumulates the printed web into sheets that are folded once or twice before being ready for delivery. Depending on the application requested, the solution can be configured in seconds to create single folded sheets (twice or z-folded) or multiple sheets folded once. The NewsReady solution at Nikkan Pro Sports also allows 1-up or 2-up stacks, with or without offset, to be sent to a 90° conveyor for other commercial print or book-block production purposes.

It all started when our staff saw the Truepress JET520HD at an exhibition; by September of the same year we decided on the purchase. We chose this model because our corporate red color was beautifully printed on paper. Previously our daily newspaper was only partially in color, but now the full-color publication is very well appreciated by our followers. They also find the photos inside the weekly newspaper to be more vivid and better printed than before. Full color printing has boosted the overall value, including the advertising value, of our publications,” says Tsukioka, senior vice president at Nikkan Pro Sports.

The 55 gsm lightweight paper used in newspaper production is always a real challenge for any printer,” adds Tsukioka. “Jams easily occur with consequent stoppages wasting time and paper. However, the Truepress NIR dryer technology reduces the cockling often associated with traditional inkjet and improves print quality and graphics. This special feature applied to our lightweight full color printed stocks achieves great results. After the printer, the web is neat, and the sheets cut on the Tecnau NewsReady system are accurate and extremely flat. This is a big advantage for the following stages of production where sheets are precisely accumulated and folded for a high-quality result.

In the end, you might wonder why we have chosen to adopt the latest digital printing systems for a market like track cycling which shows signs of decline” added Takeuchi. “But the answer is simple: we are still confident that our business has an extremely high profitability. And by adopting the latest technologies available, we have increased the value of our newspapers to provide the best possible product to our readers. We are also looking ahead for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which will be featuring track cycling competitions, where we would like to contribute in one way or another.”

The complete Tecnau NewsReady and Screen TruePress series solution was installed in the shortest time possible with the aid of Boewe Systec Japan, who also provides the customer a continuous service contract for assistance and maintenance to keep production consistent and stable.

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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