Saurabh Printers adds new offset & digital book presses

New presses from RMGT-Provin & Monotech

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Vinod Gulati of Saurabh Printers with the new RMGT 4-color 920 ST4 press installed in May
Vinod Gulati of Saurabh Printers with the new RMGT 4-color 920 ST4 press installed in May

Vinod Gulati of Saurabh Printers is a book production man, having been around publishers and book printing all his adult life. For many years, he helped one of the leading North Indian publishers by looking after the binding department of its printing business. Ultimately, the binding business became his own in 1991, and over the last 30 years, it has grown and evolved into a comprehensive book production business.

Like many print businesses, Gulati’s story is one of migration from small used single color presses to multicolor presses and an extensive range of bookbinding and finishing equipment. His offset pressroom now contains two web offset presses and seven second-hand sheetfed machines in three different formats. The newest addition is the brand new RMGT 4-color 920 ST4 in the 92-centimeter size that has become very successful with Indian book printers. About 90 new RMGT 920s are running across the country. 

There is a simultaneous expansion on the digital side of the pressroom at Saurabh Printers. Containing five Xerox digital presses, of which three are monochrome, and two are full-color production presses, it has now added a high resolution webfed monochrome inkjet press from Monotech Systems.

The binding and finishing department is understandably comprehensive, given Gulati’s beginnings in the business. It contains five folding machines and five stitching machines and four perfect binders, of which two are multi-clamp machines. In 30 years, the company has outgrown several premises in Delhi and Noida, and now it occupies 70,000 square foot premises of its own on an even larger plot of land with room to grow.

In 2005, Gulati’s son Vikrant purchased a printing business in Australia – Westman Printers in Sydney. Saurabh Printers is also a book printing exporter, and over the years in close cooperation with the Westland print business in Sydney, its largest export market has become Australia. To some extent, Westman Printers can pass on some of its long-run book printing to the family print business in Noida.

Vinod Gulati prints books for established publishers such as HarperCollins, Lexis-Nexis, Walters, Scholastic, Pearson, WIP, and KOPS. He tells us that the book production business is seasonal. While textbooks are printed and bound from October to March each year, trade books provide the work from April to September.

Full service across the book supply chain

Saurabh Printers can be called a full-service provider to publishers wherein it provides both prepress work and digitalization of books into ePub and other eBook formats. As far as the printed books, it provides both logistics and warehousing to its publisher customers.

Saurabh Printer’s investments and the services it provides have been comprehensive, looking at the production of books in digital and print formats and for short, medium, and long runs in monochrome and color. Partnering its publisher customers for the entire book supply chain has compelled it to make strategic investments in the latest technology for both digital and offset production.

Projections for FY 2020-21 revised back to earlier targets

The latest investments of the new RMGT 4-color and the high-resolution web-fed monochrome Monotech inkjet press were made, keeping in mind both a new level of business and overall efficiencies in production and service. While both machines were expected to be installed by the end of March, the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown intervened.

The RMGT offset press was installed and production started only in May while the Monotech inkjet started up only in June. Gulati says, “We had to revise our production targets for the 20-21 financial year, and with the loss more than two months production, we revised our targets down to what we had achieved in 2018-19. However, the work and production have now picked up a sufficient pace so that we can revise our targets upwards. We now hope to achieve our original targets of 2020-21 with the two new presses in place.”

A slight correction to this article in the name of the printing business in Australia was made by the author on 9 July 2020.

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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