Ask the Expert
Ultimate TechnoGraphics is proud to count aNiman Graphic Supplies as an Ultimate Reseller to help printers in Bengaluru (Karnataka) and across India boost their print productivity with the Ultimate solutions. Since their establishment in 2007, aNiman’s mission is to offer the best specialised support to Indian print companies, while continuously sharing their expertise on workflow automation and best practices for offset, digital and hybrid printing.
Shyam Mohan, owner of aNiman Graphic Supplies, shares his insights on the current Indian print market and his vision on what the future holds for this industry.
How has the pandemic affected the print industry in your region?
This is a storm that has hopefully passed. It caused a major disruption in terms of labour migration and upsetting the set pieces of production. Prices have also escalated, and a lot of business faced loss, payment of wages for no work etc., However, the industry escaped major break down. Even during the lockdown, printers and those especially in packaging were classified as an essential service and they benefited from the extra demand for products from eCommerce businesses and the pharmaceutical industry.
Would you say that Workflow Automation is a key solution to these challenges?
Nowadays with online design and VDP etc. the scope of automated services can change the profile of the printer itself, from design to diverse finished products to mailing etc. Web-to-Print (W2P) – Pre-flighting – Imposition – Proofing – Color Management, almost all advanced prepress functions can be automated.
The technologies on the press side is going through a sea of change and brings more benefit from being less polluting to smarter. From print heads to control electronics and print systems such as transport and mechanical parts integrated into digital technology. Call it the ‘Teslation’ of the press and this is all about automation behind the cutting-edge design and appearance.
“You can produce more, and price pressures can be addressed better. In markets where volumes are important, you can get better throughput simply by automating the prepress tasks.”
Why should a printer in India automate their workflow (prepress and post–press)?
Because it is a better way of working. Nowadays, the prepress is now more accurately sending data for the whole print pipeline. Skilled labour for e.g., a prepress operator (either human or software), can do more, automatically. You can use labour in a more optimal way. From setting templates and hot folder setting as a specialist and then on other jobs which is worthy of human intelligence.
First and foremost, the prepress starts on the eCommerce order side. The customer or end–user either design as per fixed templates (and pre-flight rules) or uploads a file. Both cases thanks to pre-flight either the file is corrected, or the file is repaired by the user. This is currently most often a free service taking time and effort by the press. Next the pre flighted file is correctly imposed and set with the finishing machines parameters as per the requirement and this too is via automated Hot folder. Then the hot folder file goes wherever the printer is locally or over the internet and all the color management, profiles, and other many settings, which are specific to the print quality and objectives, are done again automatically and output either to CtP or digital press. Then if the press has an inline bindery, the JDF data goes in there and it is possible with an inline booklet maker that the press outputs the finished product correctly.
We notice many printers in India are still using the traditional offset printing technology. Why would an offset printer in India not move to digital printing?
There are the pro mechanical lobbyists that say that the quality of the digital press it is still not matching offset and the lower amount of resale value or long-lasting investment vis a vis a good German offset machine. Hence if the printer is a traditional printer, then he is still searching for a digital press which gives offset quality. Very often, they do not understand the possibilities.
What are the benefits of digital printing according to you?
- More Environmentally friendly.
- Better way of working
- Print quality can be seen outside (visibly improves) the gamut of traditional printing
- Less errors.
- Less make-ready waste.
- More connected to automated processes
- Platform for more development in the print process
- More diverse applications
“Automation is ever changing. You always can go one level up”
“First and foremost, the prepress starts on the eCommerce order side”
Do you think companies are aware of the automation they can bring to their bindery and finishing departments, or are they purely focused on getting files to print?
In general, bindery is seen more of a craft. Binding machines are making inroads and companies are benefitting. The typical press may outsource the prepress and even the binding. Printing itself is very vast and even if traditional for e.g., offset, then there are always a million things on the to do list in terms of types of inks, and substrates and print technologies to do.
Hence focus on this part i.e., the print is good. The same goes for a printer making an entry into commercial digital printing, different configuration of heads and other technologies and then again, the inks and then media etc.
“Awareness is lacking for e.g.; in most digital print shops the preference is to only print and then go tradition on binding. There is simply no point in going digital printing for a booklet super-fast and then let it lie in the binding for days.”
This awareness that the digital binding is the only way ensure that the end job is also turned around fast and thus faster than offset presses, the customer will rely on them more. A digital printer prints a booklet and goes manual bindery, say takes 3 days. Offset will also take the same. But if the digital printer prints a booklet and goes with an in line mechanical booklet maker (or for that matter a digital booklet maker) then the turn around is on the same day. Then the customer will experience the difference.
Hence the focus of the printer can be on the press, as long as the prepress and post-press are automated.
How do you see the future in the short and long term?
Short term, the printers are getting back to the point where they were pre pandemic in terms of businesses. Even as they are mired in day-to-day work, they now realise the bottlenecks. They try to figure out what all went wrong, how can they do things better in case there is a next pandemic or similar disruption.
In the long term, they will adopt many corrections, such as:
a) Credit limits
b) Advance payments from customers
c) Reduce dependency on Labour and skilled labour wherever possible
d) Depend more on eCommerce
e) Depend more on automation
f) Invest in JDF compliant bindery equipment
g) Grow from a local print service provider to an exporter
h) Adopt standards and standardised way of working.
i) Focus on Quality
j) Usage of the world’s best technology from blanket underlays to equipment and machinery
k) Go digital wherever possible!
Do you have any final advise for new print businesses?
Invest in Digital. Go for next-gen. Digital Technology companies have done deep research and brought out products for almost every facet of traditional printing and then some more.
Follow the steps below:
a) Set-up eCommerce printing
b) Automate your prepress functions
c) Go for digital printing – from industrial to commercial to packaging
d) (As Stephen Covey says- ) Begin with the end in mind – always automate finishing
e) Always be aware of the next best digital improvement(s) coming up.
Digital businesses enable you to spend more time with your friends and family.
Digital businesses provide more peace of mind to customers who rely on you
Digital businesses provide more profits and be a part of the Digital print development and get customised machines and technology made for you for offering unique and special products to your customers.
For more information about future-proofing your print business, and how Ultimate Impostrip® and Ultimate Bindery® can help, contact our Ultimate TechnoGraphics representative in India:
aNiman Graphic Supplies
12, Chaitanya, S.M Road, 3rd Cross
Jalahalli West, Bengaluru
Karnataka, India 560015