Lucknow-based Amar installs AccurioPress c6100

Konica Minolta service scores in customer retention

L-R Harpal Singh and Surjit Singh of Amar Fax Services

Lucknow-based Amar Fax Services was established in 1989 by Surjit Singh and Harpal Singh. The partners began with a monochrome production printer and installed their first digital color printer in 2005. “We were the first in the city to buy a digital color press. As print volumes increased, we invested in Konica Minolta. We were Xerox users but shifted to Konica Minolta because of its service support. Our first KM press was a bizhub 1100 PRO, which helped us gain new customers. Our print volume almost doubled because of the exceptional print quality of the 1100 PRO. The service support from Konica Minolta was also phenomenal,” says Harpal Singh.

Shortly after that, Amar installed yet another Konica Minolta, the bizhub PRESS c1060. “The fasma contract offered by KM is much better than other companies, which allowed us to offer flexible rates and gain a significant customer base. Certain print jobs that we were not able to offer at a competitive rate with our earlier presses became possible with KMs,” Singh adds.

Amar’s new plant in Aligarh

While Amar has so far printed more than 50 lakh sheets on the 1100 PRO digital press, it has printed about 8 lakh sheets on the c1060 digital press. Amar recently opened a new printing plant in Aligarh. It installed a new AccurioPress c6100 and two monochrome printers at its new branch. “Aligarh is a hub. In a way, it is an ideal place for printers. The demand over there is fresh and flourishing. We plan to involve the second-generation in this business at the new plant,” says Singh.

Singh says that all the foiling and embossing embellishment demand is going to the offset printers in Lucknow as of now who are offering these services at a low rate that won’t be viable on the MGI. “The MGI digital embellishment machine is also in our plan. However, we feel that the market needs to graduate before we make such ambitious investments. We know that the MGI will complement our current portfolio of products extremely well. However, we will wait for sometime before investing in it. Currently, we’re waiting for the Konica Minolta AccurioPress c14000 to be commercialized, and we will install that machine before making any progress on the MGI,” explains Singh.

The new AccurioPress c14000 was supposed to be commercialized in India during drupa 2020. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, drupa stands postponed till April 2021, and Konica Minolta has also halted the decision to commercialize the press in India till the nation-wide lockdown ends.

Shorter response time adds advantage for KM

The AccurioPress c6100 supports up to 400 GSM thick substrates, one of the significant reasons why Amar invested in it. Singh says, “The print quality of the new press is much better than 1100 PRO, and the colors are consistent throughout the print-run. We have printed nearly 3.5 lakh sheets in the last three and a half months.”

Of all the Konica Minolta digital presses that the company has, quite a few experience breakdowns, but the frequency is very low. “The biggest advantage of KM is its low response time. They arrive at our plant within half an hour, and it doesn’t take too long to change or replace a part that’s faulty in the press,” Singh adds.

Coronavirus dents print demand in Lucknow

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, most of the educational institutions and corporate companies either shut down temporarily or were operating with reduced strength before the lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on 24 March. Singh says that the demand during the period declined almost by more than 50%. “The retail shops in the city are our biggest customers. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, none of them are coming out, and they are not getting pamphlets or brochures printed. The state government instructed all the schools and colleges to shut down, which has also had a huge impact on our business. Although there is hardly any impact on the supply of raw materials till now, I’m sure that if the situation prevails, the supplies will be affected soon,” Singh concludes.

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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