Nutech’s new RMGT 4-color on the way to Faridabad

Commercial and book printing exports emerging from the pandemic

The Nutech book printing and export plant in Faridabad in the Delhi National Capital Region
Nutech's book printing and export plant in Faridabad in the New Delhi National Capital Region Photo Nutech

Although only a few sheetfed offset presses have been installed by commercial and book printers in the financial year that ends on 31 March 2022, the exceptions in India are the significant book printing exporters. They installed multicolor presses and have ordered several that are to be installed in the first quarter of the financial year beginning 1 April 2022.

Indian book printing exporters have installed new 8-color and double-color perfectors in the past year. And in spite of the chip and the raw material shortages that also affected press manufacturers, several other presses are on their way. Other book exporters who wanted to order multicolor offset presses were dissuaded by experts who advised caution – and they have bought digital color presses instead.

Nutech’s 50th anniversary and gen-next

Nutech’s second RMGT 920ST 4-color press is expected to arrive by the end of the month and to be installed in April or May at the Faridabad book export plant in the Delhi NCR. The automation features on the new 36-inch press include closed-loop color controls, CIP3, semiautomatic plate loading and various presets for paper loading. In the pandemic, Nutech took the opportunity to dispose of an older press even though it meant decreasing capacity which is now needed with the opening up of schools.

In the past two years, the third generation has also joined Nutech’s commercial and book printing business, a business that is one third of a family owned print and packaging group founded by the late KL Shroff and which is now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. Nutech’s managing director Ravi Shroff while speaking of his son, explains that the past two years may have been a good time for a young business person to absorb some of the intricacies of the business that are not always quite as simple as what they teach you in business school.

Quality checking Nutech
Quality inspection before despatch at Nutech Faridabad
Photo Nutech

The prolonged pandemic has compelled the solid commercial printers who have built up the complete infrastructure needed for book printing exports to control their costs and still keep their plants running. The keyword is resilience since these printers knew that the industry and the demand for their printing and binding services would return. They used the periods of slow demand and lockdowns to get rid of their old machines and order new presses with automation – anticipating that productivity will be the key to future growth.

In addition, some of them have been wise enough to build up their paper inventories and this has been useful at a time of shortages, high inflation, and more difficult and expensive logistics. Although rising prices may be a given, many of the Indian mills are supplying good-quality paper for book printing.

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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