Gulf News waterless printing plates to conserve water & expand product offerings

Better quality helps add revenue

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The Gulf News building
The Gulf News building

Toray, the leader in innovative solutions for waterless offset printing, today reported that Gulf News, the largest circulated English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, has been using now for a couple of years the Koenig & Bauer Cortina waterless offset press with 12 towers, of which four are heatset, and is using the Toray IMPRIMA WA waterless offset plates. The company, with their facility in Dubai, has increased press utilization by adding commercial work serving the retail and magazine markets, including its own flagship weekly magazine, The Friday. It also converted from tabloid to Berliner format in conjunction with the installation of the new press, a format that is increasingly popular in the international newspaper industry. The company’s state-of-the-art printing plant, located about 40 km from the city center, was opened in 2012 and employs about 100 production staff. Overall corporate employment, including editorial staff, is at 800.

We are very proud of our highly automated, state-of-the-art plant here in Dubai,” said Robert Renyold, production manager. “Not only is the facility completely climate controlled, but automation is everywhere, from our print room to paper storage and reel handling, mostly done with robots. Being located in the desert, water is a scarce resource, and implementing waterless offset printing in our new facility was an important decision, for us and for the planet.”

Renyold, who has been with the company for 15 years and recently took over responsibility for managing the Cortina press, adds that other decision criteria were the reduced waste, lower emissions and overall lower environmental footprint achieved with Cortina waterless offset printing using Toray IMPRIMA plates.

Quality was another important factor. “This configuration gives us a very high level of quality,” Renyold adds. “With the Toray IMPRIMA plates, we are able to produce a very fine dot, and dot gain is very low. We also use a 150-line screen. Together, that delivers exceptional quality.”

Renyold points out that this elevated quality level has enabled the company to produce gain in revenue thanks to the ability to produce very high-quality commercial work, which he says they were not able to do before.

We also value our relationship with Toray,” Renyold says. “We had the task of converting from conventional offset to waterless offset, while at the same time adding commercial applications. So, a fair amount of change was required. Toray worked very closely with us during the implementation process from the inception, helping us produce the best possible quality plates on our Kodak Generation plate setter and marks-3Zet waterless plate processor. It was an extremely smooth implementation with their help, and the fact that our climate requires us to have a completely climate-controlled facility also made implement much easier, with very consistent humidity levels in our paper stock. To achieve the high quality we aimed at with our new waterless offset platform, we needed the consumables – including plates, inks and paper – to be very stable and work well together. Toray worked with us to ensure we achieved that. They also visit us regularly to oversee our operation, and when we need help or support, they are right there to help us. Toray is truly a valued partner for Gulf News. As a side note, we share our enthusiasm for supporting the tennis sport. We continue as the Official Newspaper supporting both the WTA Tour and the ATP 500 World Tour, while Toray has been a supporter of the International Tennis Foundation (ITF) World Cup Junior Tennis Finals for boys and girls under 14.”

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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