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Print Summit 2017 discusses ideas for growth

Need for constant growth is to reinvent business strategies
February 13, 2017 | By Kashish Singh

The 11th edition of the BMPA Print Summit conference held at the Tata Theatre, NCPA in Mumbai, attracted over 1000 delegates who remained hooked to the show until it closed. This year, the conference had speakers from the famous TED series. One of the major attractions of the Summit was the presence of Lt. General Syed Ata Hasnain, honored with several gallantry awards. Rolex Laureate Sonam Wangchuk, Padma Bhushan winner Dr BM Hegde and Shekhar Gupta, chairman and editor-in-chief of The Print.

  • Print Summit 2017 discusses ideas for growth
  • CN Ashok of Autoprint at Print Summit 2017 at Tata Theatre, NCPA in Mumbai. Photo IPP

Getting ahead of the S curve
Being committed to improving the quality of life for the print community, Faheem Agboatwala, of Hi-Tech Printing Services, gave a presentation on ‘Look Ahead of the S-Curve,’ where he showcased three case studies of local print companies, Akar, Mudrika Labels, and the Printmann group. The S curve is a type of curve that shows a rapid, exponential increase in sales for a period, followed by a tapering or leveling off. He described it as a time in the life of a business where the promoters need to recognize the approaching end of a profitable cycle while the company is still making profits. It is a time to make investments into a new arena or move on to the next S curve in the life cycle of their enterprise to reach higher levels of success.

Agboatwala said, “The world is changing rapidly, and same has been the case with print. Everything that will turn digital will be digital sooner or later. Today, most of the print service providers (PSPs) feel safe about packaging. Since commercial print is shrinking; packaging has become a safe zone. However, the packaging industry is also witnessing a change, and is moving towards smart packaging. Every business follows a cycle and at some instant loses its relevance due to competitive pricing or if the product becomes obsolete.” By citing real-life examples of the three companies, he shared the need for reinventing business strategies from time to time, to gain a distinct competitive edge.

Impact of digital print
Puneet Datta, director – professional printing products division, Canon India, while discussing the digital printing trends said, “According to a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), while digital imaging offset press technology is still valid for short runs, digital printing offers the benefits of one-off impressions and variable data. Inkjet is the only foreseeable threat to toner-based print. Wide-format Inkjet printers are the future of the printing press. The quality is top-notch and runs at breathtaking high speeds.”

He also shared insights from a Smthers Pira Report, “To embrace digital is to involve digital technologies to explore new possibilities and have increased revenue in business.” Regarding future projections, the report states that over the next few years or so, the most dynamic area of change will be in the fields of packaging. Rigid cartons, flexibles, metal and corrugated are the sectors that will take up digital production methods which are still at a nascent stage in India. Datta concluded his presentation by discussing the Print Industry 4.0 and 3D print technology used in medical fields.   

Challenges faced by the print industry
The US economy is considered the leading indicator for the world print market. The Lehman shock towards the end of 2008 hit the US market hard, so did the printing market. “But it is now on track to gradual recovery,” said Satoshi Mochida, president and chief operating officer of Komori Corporation Japan. “This means that the print market is on the rise in the near future.” Sharing his insights on where print is headed in future and how Komori is providing solutions to resolve the challenges faced by the printers, Mochida said, “One key indicator is the increase in printed books. The bookstores have increased by around 20% in the last five years, while eBooks continue with a market share of 20%.” Mochida added, “Direct mailers were threatened by online marketing but continue to grow by 3%.” The global digital production print market, especially the inkjet printer market, has been expanding since 2012. “The major reason for inkjet’s rise is the technical limitation of electrophotography,” said Mochida.

Mochida also presented a case-study of Nasdaq-listed Netherland-based Cimpress with a turnover of around US$ 1.8 billion whose gross profit reached as high as 60%. It is equipped with ten Komori GL840P+HUV, 4+4 convertible perfecting presses with HUV dryers, among other offset and digital presses. “One will think that this company has succeeded by taking advantage of the emerging W2P market or through M&A. However, their real benefits have come from converting printing into a manufacturing process. Cimpress thoroughly employs so-called Toyota production system, which is not tied to the common sense of the printing industry. They boast very high productivity. The sales per head of their main factory are close to US$ 2 million,” shared Mochida. Emphasizing that Komori’s technology such as the KHS-AI and HUV are fundamental factors in Cimpress’ production system, Mochida said the company has also developed a workflow to optimize the productivity of offset and digital presses. “I believe that innovation can happen anywhere and so also in India,” he commented.

One-third productiivty
However, there are challenges which the Indian print companies must combat. “We analyzed the production data of the presses running at the printers. The result was shocking, and it showed that actual production time is one-third of the total working hour,” Mochida said. “The challenge for the print industry is to find solutions to the three top factors that are impeding production—machine condition, color matching, and machine operation and operating procedures.”

Digital printing is fast making inroads, and it will be substantial for the printing companies to integrate both offset and digital printing in future. “While picking up digital solutions, print companies will have to find machines that can print on the same paper that offset machines can print on, so that the same quality and colors can be reproduced, as well as integrate into software that runs the offset machine,” opined Mochida.

Transition to the next generation?
Having a wealth of experience, CN Ashok, managing director at Autoprint, addressed the need to smoothly transfer leadership from the previous to the next generation. He stated, “Generally, the reason for conflict between the two generations is because the older generation resists letting go and tries to restrict next-gen in its way of doing things. We must establish a strong positive balance in the emotional bank account. To encourage the next generation, we must be able to provide a clear objective, guidelines and accountability with proper data.”  

  • Print Summit 2017 discusses ideas for growth
  • Fred Ponnewala, director at Comart felicitating Puneet Datta, director sales and marketing at Canon India. Photo IPP

Customer-centric strategy
Mehul A Desai, director at Mail Order Solutions, finds importance in doing business in the “new environment” where things are constantly changing due to various reasons; be it the way we do business or technology or client expectations. “To remain relevant one has to adopt and have a customer-centric approach,” he shared. By citing three companies—Mumbai-based Prodon, a commercial printer who produces ‘top-notch quality’ print work, Vistaprint and Seshaasai Business Forms — Desai emphasized that although these companies are diverse in nature, one common factor behind their success is a customer-centric approach to every decision. “Take three years of your financial statement, get a clear picture of the business and map customer data that will form the basis of your business strategy. Mapping this data will help you identify which client has contributed how much to the firm. Making any plan of activity without thorough market analysis is a profitless business. That’s why we need to know about the clients and assimilate their needs. There is no point in making an investment without doing a proper market study,” he shared.

Lt. General Hasnain spoke at length on the ‘Challenge of being a Siachen Warrior and leadership management,’ which left delegates imagining the replication of these procedures in corporate management and the results it would deliver. Dr. Hedge shared his views on the science of health for daily living while Sonam gave a presentation on ‘Turning Adversities into Opportunities.’ Industry leaders including Ramesh Kejriwal of Parksons Packaging, Pranav Parikh Chairman at TechNova Imaging Systems, Narendra Paruchuri of Pragati, Kamal Chopra, president, AIFMP and other industry leaders took part in the event.

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