PPI Media demonstrates newspaper layout automation at Kochi

Template-based automation aims at extremely high-quality page production

PPI Media
Matthias Fischer, head of PPI Media’s business unit for newspaper solutions.

PPI Media, a Hamburg, Germany-based software developer for content and publishing production solutions, demonstrated its next-level automation solution for newspaper layout at the Wan-Ifra Printers’ Summit in Kochi in September. As reported by Indian Printer and Publisher, the new next-level automation for print product layouts promises to achieve the same level of high-quality manual layouts through automation. It is a template-based software as a subscription solution that runs in the cloud and uses the Adobe InDesign server at PPI’s end. Users can also make special pages and layouts or alterations at their own InDesign workstations, as Matthias Fischer, head of PPI Media’s business unit for newspaper solutions, explained in his presentation at the event.

The benefits of the automated layout, he explained, are efficiency, quality, and flexibility – it helps reduce layout times by at least 60 -80%. “Our approach is based on beautiful, handcrafted layouts that form a pattern library from which automation is fed. The DNA of your newspaper remains intact. The flexibility in layout remains a cornerstone. Due to simple administration, design adjustments can be made very easily if required,” Fischer explained with the help of his presentation.

“Automation of newspaper layout is the last great potential to save some money in an industry facing cost explosion from factors such as paper prices, which rose 100% from 2021 to 2022 (it has stabilized a little since then though), and distribution and employee costs,” he explained.

Foundation for future transformations and cost savings

Worldwide, print media is on a decline but India still holding the fort, Fischer said, dishing out Registrar of Newspapers statistics that show how the number of dailies being published in the country has risen from 9,750 in 2020-21 to 10,038 in 2021-2022. Fischer, however, sounded a note of caution. “Before the global development of the printing industry catches up with the Indian newspaper market, publishers can lay the foundations for future transformations and cost savings.”

The automated layout model works on the principle of handcrafted layouts that form a pattern library from which automation is fed. The DNA of the newspaper remains intact and design adjustments can be made very easily if required, depending on the news flow and ad flow, etc. Fischer then showed first-hand how the model works.

The solution is essentially an expert system based on the creation of templates into which the assigned content and advertisements are placed or flowed and the page is automatically laid out on ppi Media’s server and then almost instantly appears on the user’s monitor.

“The automated page layout can be accepted and sent to the print queue or tweaked and fine-tuned without using or going into InDesign – subsequent layouts of the page are presented by the system which can also be tweaked or rejected or accepted by pressing the apply button. This reduces both the workstations running InDesign locally and the number of layout resources required. In addition, it optimizes the desk personnel’s inputs as more pages can be made faster and more attention can be paid to improving the content itself.”

Indian Printer and Publisher in a previous article had explained step by step how the system works. PPI began implementing its automated layout system in German newspapers a couple of years ago. Current customers include a European book publisher, a corporate scientific product publisher in Switzerland, a couple of large magazine publishers in Europe, and Aviation Week magazine in the US. The automated layout can be used with PPI’s tohoop and Content-X, PlanPag, and any planning and content sources. 

Several newspaper publishers and technical personnel at the Kochi conference were interested in the automated layout solution. Some saw that one of its immediate benefits would be the cost savings in not having to buy the multiple InDesign licenses that they are currently compelled to. 

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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