Arihant ventures into short-run printing with digital inkjet

Meerut, Uttar Pradesh-based Arihant Publication, one of the country’s biggest educational book printers, has recently invested in a digital inkjet print-on-demand solution, knowzzleJet-DL, developed by Monotech Systems.

05 Dec 2023 | By Rahul Kumar

“We have diversified into digital inkjet printing technology with the KnowzzleJet-DL to cater to our short-run segment. This is a made-in-India solution and the credit goes to team Monotech Systems and Tejinder Singh for convincing us to invest in the machine. We were aware of the technology, but there was no immediate plan for investment. The Monotech Systems team guided us through the digital solution,” Parvesh Jain of Arihant Publication says.

He adds, “Monotech Systems was confident that the machine would be able to meet our production demands perfectly, and we are happy that it proved to be the case.”

The short-run digital inkjet solution has been running on the shop floor for the last year.

According to Jain, post-installation, the company has witnessed around 6-7% growth in the segment. Arihant is so happy with the performance of the KnowzzleJet-DL that the company is now looking to invest in another digital machine, this time, a colour production engine. “We are planning to make it double within one year with the help of one colour inkjet press,” he adds.

For short-runs
Arihant prints and binds 350 metric tonnes of paper per day to produce 250,000 books per day of different sizes, spine widths, formats, and binding.

According to Jain, there is a substantial gap between the company’s supply and demand and that’s why pirated copies of its titles are available in the market. There are two types of demands which are required to be fulfilled – short-run and long-run. In the long run, the company has enough capacity and is increasing steadily.

In the short run, Jain says the company found the KnowzzleJet-DL to be the most affordable among all the available options in the market, and also more user-friendly.

For the company, the short-run demand can include 500 copies of a title.

Jain says despite starting the new digital short-run unit, post-press was not a problem because of its existing set-up and could synchronise printing and post-press. “Thus, we have established a complete set-up for short-run books,” he adds.

Not to confuse short-runs with print-on-demand (POD) or books-on-demand (BOS), Jain says, “We have partnerships with Repro and Manipal for POD and BOS, and we don’t have any desire to enter into this segment. So, our digital segment will be dedicated to short-run books only.” 

Working with Monotech Systems
Arihant finalised the deal during PrintPack 2022 and the installation took place just after the exhibition.

The monochrome inkjet press is equipped with Memjet Duralink and can print web widths from 8- to 26-inches at a speed of up to 650-ft/min and high-quality printing up to 1600x1600-dpi resolutions. It is available in roll-to-roll, roll-to-sheet and roll-to-fold configurations. It uses water-based pigment (black) printing ink.

Jain says, “Our association with Monotech Systems is more than a decade old now. It started with a deal for Basysprint CTP in 2013. Since then, we have installed six CTPs through the company to produce 1,500-1,800 printing plates per day. We believe in long partnerships. Most of our vendors are with us from day one.”

Jain adds the company is especially happy with the machine because it is a one-time investment, without any click charges. The only recurring cost is the cost of the printing ink.

Growth during Covid
Jain believes that physical books will never die or go down because of many reasons, including the affordable cost of books, long-lasting life, no dependency on power and internet, our society where everyone is looking for literacy and skills, no side effects on eyes, human health and many others.

Thus, the recent pandemic could not dampen the company’s spirit of growth. During the pandemic itself, the company installed three binding lines from Welbound and other equipment.

Jain adds, “Paper is the most valuable raw material for books, and during the pandemic paper’s cost went down. We saw an opportunity in this and bought a lot of paper. The capacity of our paper godown is 3,000 tonnes and we had 12,000-13,000 tonnes of paper with us. The entire facility was full of paper.”

The next step
The company is growing at a CAGR of 20% and is investing and expanding to maintain it and increase it.

“We are working on our second production plant with a similar production capacity. The construction of the plant has started and hopefully, we will start production in April next year. The new plant will be fully functional by the end of next year,” Jain says, adding. “Existing book printing companies are not investing in new technology and equipment. So, a gap is popping up and we are ready to bridge it. Our focus is on books only and there is no plan for diversification to other segments.”

For this, the company has opted for a combination of pre-owned and new equipment for the new plant. Jain says the selection depends on the cost and ROI. Atishay Jain, the next generation of the family, will take care of the Rs 100-crore project.

The business of publishing
Arihant has a team of 3,000 people (including 900 in print production) with 26 branches, with four editorial offices in Jaipur, Lucknow, Meerut and Delhi, and two production units.

Jain says content is king and it will always be. There is a demand for the latest and updated content in the market. Many existing and old publishers are not updating their content, and as a result, they are going out of the market. Thus, the publishing spectrum is becoming bigger.

“Book publishers, especially those who are coming up with new and interesting content have enormous opportunities. I know a few publishers who are doing a good job in Meerut, Agra, Lucknow and Jaipur,” Jain says.

Arihant has 1,400 people dedicated to content based in Delhi, Jaipur and Meerut.

The family-owned business is run by the three brothers. Deepesh Jain is responsible for editorial and marketing; Reetesh Jain is responsible for purchase, finance and sales and Pravesh Jain is responsible for production and supply management.