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Chennai Micro Print: Re-imagining the print module

03 April 2012

Sriram Selvam finds out how the Rs 50-crore Chennai-based firm is achieving growth every year at the 1,20,000 sq/ft plant which produces books for the export market; plus foraying into packaging

20120403044630img8815 V Ramesh and S Ramu with one of the Heidelbergs from their fleet

The journey of Chennai Micro Print from a generic commercial printer to a one-stop book printing solution and innovative packaging provider is a story which includes a sprawling 1,20,000 sq/ft unit in Thiruverkadu, a suburb in Chennai.

Started in 1996, by the dynamic printing technologist duo of V Ramesh and S Ramu, Chennai Micro Print also has publishing and stationery labels under the brand. “In the first few years, our primary job entailed producing study material books for the prosperous computer training centres. We were in it at the right time. This helped us get the basics of book publishing spot on,” says Ramesh.

Decentralised business strategy
“The key strategy for our new plant included dedicated infrastructure for our book printing and packaging line of businesses i.e. one plant with two units,” says Ramesh. The company which has work round the clock, has a total employee strength of 400. “ Starting with five employees, 15 years ago, the firm now has more than 400 employees,” Ramesh adds.

Success in book printing
“By the time we became a private limited company we realised the need to focus on specialised divisions. On cue we narrowed down to book printing. In the  last decade or so we have transformed into a reliable partner for many of the leading publishers,” says Ramu.

“The markets we worked in have been a crucial factor,” he says. “India has been a consistently stable market through these years. In the  recent years, with our exposure to international book fairs, we realise there is an opportunity overseas. We feel there is a share of the pie for all,” Ramu adds.

The company has publishers across the world including Europe, the Middle East and Africa working with them regularly. “The massive potential in the African countries is a surprise to us,” states Ramu.

“Our success in the world market depends on our having a comprehensive infrastructure set-up which will enable us to compete with printers across the globe and deliver superior quality at the best possible price,” he explains.

The pressline in the book printing unit include Heidelberg sheetfed presses consisting  an eight-colour with perfector, a six-colour with coater, a five-colour, a two-colour with perfector, and single-colour machines. “We made a policy decision about buying only Heidelberg presses after being satisfied with the optimum speed of production that we aimed for,” says Ramesh.

The impressive press line is augmented by web presses and a raft of post-press kit. “We are slowly but assuredly positioning ourselves as industrial printers with the capability to achieve very high volumes because that is the road ahead for book printers of our kind,” says Ramu. “In fact, we are looking to enhance our capabilities by adding another web offset press. That would be our  top priority,” says Ramu.

“Any type of job, any volume at any given time, is the USP of our book printing division,” he says.

Surge in packaging
“We are recent entrants in the packaging segment but the wealth of knowledge gained from our thriving book printing operations gave us the right springboard,” says Ramesh

The packaging division, started in 2004, caters to apparel, footwear, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, food and healthcare sectors. “We offer three kinds of products in our packaging division i.e. mono carton, corrugated (fluted) carton and board to board laminated cartons,” he explains.

“While volumes are crucial for the book printing division, in packaging it is the novelty in solution that helps us stand-out,” Ramesh adds. “We believe that the fully automated board-to-board laminating machine, which is ideally suited for manufacturing shoe boxes, is the only kind in the city,” says Ramesh.

“Our focus is to ensure minimal human intervention in any kind of job, and every investment is done keeping that in mind. One more example for that is the Proteck fully automated tower coating machine for our blister cards. This helps us easily produce high volumes and also match the high quality expectation and tight delivery schedules,” he explains.

“Another important aspect for success in packaging is tying up with the right board manufacturer and raw material management. We have  been supported by our suppliers including ITC and JK for virgin boards, South India Paper Mills for kraft board and NR and Nachiyar for recycled boards,” adds Ramesh.

Precision planning and pre-press strategy
“I can proudly tell you that in spite of our focus to make our press floor comprehensive, our pre-press remains our core strength. We ensure the best of software technologies to support our production line,” said Ramesh.

The software suits implemented as part of their pre-press system include the highly-rated Esko design solution, GMG colour management and Techkon software, along with popular solutions from Adobe, Corel etc.

“The facility also has an in-house ink kitchen and colour matching centre to maintain the highest of standards in every job of ours,” explains Ramesh. The press which converts 6,000 tonnes of paper per annum for both printing and packaging consumes an average of 3,000 sq/metre of plates per month.

“Any job of ours has a standard lead time for production which is 21 days, broken down into seven days for the raw material conversion, seven days for production and seven days for finishing and despatch,” says Ramesh. “The production schedules are colour-sequence oriented too,” he adds.

Complete logistics solution
“Another important USP of Chennai Micro Print is to provide end-to-end solution even taking care of the logistical requirement of our clients,” says Ramu. “We provide B2C solution for our publishers i.e. if they provide us with staggered delivery schedules even to the end consumer directly; whereas in case of packaging we stock our products for the customer and supply it to them on Just-in-Time basis,” he explains.

“The new infrastructure has been a major impetus for the logistic solution that we offer with huge warehouses available. This has been coupled with easy transportation facilities to-and-fro from the plant,” says Ramu.

The Rs 50-crore company has achieved steady growth every year. In 2006 stationery brand Tall Boy was established along with the thriving publishing venture ‘Apple Books’ in addition to their core line of business.“

Above all the factors that I have attributed it is the ability to maintain high calibrated machines to produce highest efficiency through an extremely skilled, highly trained and dedicated set of employees that is helping us go beyond our set targets,” Ramesh concludes.

FACTFILE

Established 1996
Equipment
Press - Heidelberg – eight colour with perfector,  six colour with coater, five colour, two colour with perfecter, one colour. Plus Orient and Ronald Web offset machines.
Post-press -Stahl folding, Muller Martini sewing and saddle stitch, Welbound gathering, perfect binder and three-knife trimmer Packaging - Proteck UV/ varnish coater, Bobst die-cutter and folder-gluer, Meiguang board to board and flute lamination, window patching machine

Specialty Industrial printers-books and packaging

Staff 400

Turnover Rs 50-cr

 

1,20,000 sq/ft plant producing books for the export market

 

This article was published on 3 April 2012 and received 310 views

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