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Exhibitor's Speak: "Education is the key to manage the print business," says Bhargav Mistry

18 January 2011

In conversation with Noel D'cunha, the deputy editor of PrintWeek India, Mistry says, "everything is like old wine packaged in a new bottle"

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PrintPack 2011 transpires at a time when there's a raging debate which says: Change is too expensive; but the status quo is unsustainable. Print company CEOs are saying, the cost of changing existing print production routines in India seems too high, but the cost of not changing is, in the long term, even higher. This is a huge predicament for print firms. What is your view?
That question reminds me of a phrase "survival of the fittest", and to survive, change is imminent, you change or else get out of the way. We need to manage everything .. men, materials, resources, along with creativity. Education is the key to manage business, competitively.

Today, the thrust of major manufacturers (Indian and international) has declined. How does one pick and choose who are the winners and the losers? After all, aligning strategically with the winners is key to success.
We need to be like an elephant, who is not affected by the surroundings, who just moves along. Being tactful, intelligent and innovative in our endeavours and find new avenues, diversify when opportunities present itself. A winner one day could be loser on another day or vice versa. It all depends how you manage - and manage to survive in the business.

We think higher raw material costs and shortages will be the main issues in 2011.
Proper costing, reducing wastage and redefining quality. I think we have been talking about quality very loosely. Quality comes at cost. But at what cost? We should know this better, through proper costing, which should include all the components of business, not just the raw material costs.

Under such circumstances, what should be a good strategy for a print firm in India?
Diversify .. because printing industry is not limited  to paper and plastic substrates ... it is so fascinating  and there are abundant opportunities in the screen-printing arena for industrial applications. An offset player can embrace screen and digital to meet every requirement of print buyers. For example, there has been a growing trend of many offset printers and packaging printers embracing screen-printing. Some of them carry out print finishing in-house instead of depending on outsourcing.

Which best practices in India have impressed you?
Total print solution is the best practice wherein a print solution provider does not call him as an offset printer, a packaging printer, a digital printer or a screen-printer.  Every print firm has to be resourceful and should tactfully deploy technology to meet a customers' requirement.

Please give specific examples that you've encountered so that we understand the print world in a way that can help others better their standards.
A point in case is Pragati Offset in Hyderabad. A garment print firm can have an offset set up to provide packaging  solution, he can have a digital for sampling and short-runs. It can have a screen-printing unit to provide value-addition on premium packaging for garments, besides it can also deploy screen-printing for garment labels, price tags, direct garment printing and heat transfer printing. All these technology, though it calls for heavy investment, but has the potential to be an undisputed leader in the field. A leader is supposed to provide every solution to the seeker, that’s the print buyer!

Printing is a business, and many print companies are doing their best business by delivering their print buyers what they want. Is this how it should be?
It depends. The market are often customer commanded, and only sometimes it is printer commanded. There is no prescribed standard price mechanism, area to area, printer to printer or customer to customer.  

Should we change the pricing incentives in order to make the print business more creative? Or do print customers simply get the print application they deserve?
In the screen-printing industry, especially in specialty printing for packaging, garment printing, ceramic printing, industrial printing, quality comes first and customers are ready to pay the price for quality.

What are some examples of print firms in India that are practicing the right kind of printing, in your opinion? Please give examples.
It is tricky question, but yes, we need standardisation in all areas of printing industry. And more so in screen-printing process, which I represent. When they fail, the quality is compromised.

PrintPack 2011, with more than 400 exhibitors has everything up for grabs. What are the new technologies we should expect during PrintPack 2011?
Will the traditional players dominate; or will some new players do well too? With so many printing exhibitions happening in India and abroad every year, I do not think there is really anything new. Everything is like old wine packaged in a new bottle. What is important is to show to the visitors how the  technology works, its utility, how to explore it profitably, how to create new ideas, how to tap the potentials of the technology. This is the missing link, but we at Grafica demonstrate both technology and techniques live and we have our training institute which creates lot of new ideas.

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