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.

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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