Printed signage industry slows down, LED gains

Faridabad update: Printers allege lack of timely service

With the coming of LED digital signage, conventional inkjet billboards and posters are shrinking in retail. Photo IPP

Faridabad’s industrial hub NIT Phase 5 and Greater Faridabad, also known as Neharpar, a group of newly developed sectors on the outskirts of the city, form the heart of printing in Delhi’s oldest suburban neighbor — constituting a small chunk of disorganized signage providers.

During a recent visit to these industrial clusters, Indian Printer and Publisher met a cross-section of printers, who highlighted several issues and concerns. The themes ranged from delayed after-sales services, as highlighted by many digital press owners, to how the transition to UV, digital, and latex technology rendered several eco-solvent-based providers workless, leading to the shutting down of several shops. And how amid the chaos, LED-based signage has picked up multiple-fold.

Industry experts have already said on several occasions that UV inkjet technology will take over the signage printing industry in the coming years. However, there are a few pain points. The lack of a regulatory body and the disorganized signage sector are hindering the growth of the overall industry, the experts feel.

The small-time service providers, on the other hand, claim that UV-based technology is just too expensive for them to make a transition.

Berlina Flex, a signage and commercial printer – which counts among the biggest providers in Faridabad — prints signage boards, wedding cards, visiting cards, and letterheads. It is also a provider of LED-based signage. The provider claims that delayed service in the area is one of the major hindrances to growth. “If we were in Delhi or Gurugram, the services would be faster, but we often need to wait weeks for presses to be serviced,” Siddharth of Berlina Flex said.

Berlina Flex team in Faridabad. Photo IPP

Launched in 2003, Berlina Flex has invested heavily in the latest trends and technology to stay ahead of the competition but the lack of timely servicing prompted the provider to foray into LED-based signage as well, Siddharth said. “The printers in Faridabad do not rely upon advanced technology due to two reasons. First, the cost associated with the technology. Second, after-sales servicing delays. Most of our printed signage is for clients in Faridabad and nearby areas and some parts of Delhi.”

Shivam Goswami of Shiv Graphics, a dealer of printed commodities in Faridabad, said Greater Faridabad has seen many shops shut since the pandemic. “A lot of flex board printers filled this area but since the pandemic, this market has become very stagnant. Numerous businesses were brimming with small orders but the inability to keep up with the latest technology due to shortage of funds impacted this market negatively.”

Manoj Kumar Garg, vice president and business head of wide format graphics at Monotech, says UV inkjet is taking over the market and this technology has huge potential. “But several constraints are delaying this paradigm shift. First, the production speed is not on par with solvent and eco-solvent-based inkjet printing – so research and development in that area is most crucial. Second, regional players have a major chunk of the business, which prevents the Indian signage industry from coming under a common umbrella. Last, the most crucial hindrance to growth is the lack of a single representative body to take forward our pleas and problems to the government.”

Shriji Art, an LED signage provider situated in the same area as Berlina Flex, said restaurants, QSR chains and now even pharma shops are going for LED. “Winters usually come with a boom in business. Wedding ceremonies, engagements, birthdays, and several pujas and bhandaras (free community meals) take place in the winter season when LED picks up demand. We have our own business of wedding card printing and invitation boxes to cater to increasing sales.”

With the coming of LED digital signage, conventional inkjet billboards and posters are shrinking in retail. Especially during the wedding and festive seasons, LED-based signage screen-printed invitations and wedding cards are more in demand. With the falling trend of eco-solvent technology and no significant rise in the adoption of UV technology within the Indian market, the conventional signage printing industry has reached stagnation and LED is paving its way.

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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