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.”

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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