Ashutosh Agarwal: Important to balance innovation with practical application

Ashutosh Agarwal of Poornima Printers attended the Power Lunch at the MMS Roundtable (third edition). He belonged to the group, Digital - value addition. Agarwal spoke to the PrintWeek India team about innovation.

06 Mar 2019 | By PrintWeek India

Are we moving too slowly, as compared to the other industries?
Maybe not as fast as the automobile industry but I think we are doing pretty well.

What should a modern press look like?
I think it's important to balance innovation with practical application.

One innovation on your shopfloor?
We are not that good with innovation but we are constantly looking at ways to improvise

Do you have to be much more innovative than your counterparts of a similar scale? How do you cope with that, constantly learning new innovations?
Yes. I believe one has to be more innovative, if not with the product collaterals, at least the approach has to be fresh.

What is the most innovative skillset you’ve had to develop in your team?
Improve and improvise is something I keep telling my team.

In terms of creating innovation, do you invest in R&D in your organisation or you follow industry trends?
Follow industry trends, and adopt with caution.

What drives innovation? Is it a necessity or technology?
In my opinion, it's mindset first, next is a necessity; technology will merely support or supplement it. Ved Dhote of Vibgyor proved this beyond doubt.

Almost all print companies have diversified into new markets or applications – what is the key to that?
It is a long (and costly!) road to diversify into a new market and survive. I am not sure if the failures are out yet.

How are you spotting opportunities?
The current plan is to stay put, and try to increase our share of the pie with existing customers.

How do you measure creative success within your organisation?
Unfortunately, we are our own judge and being true to myself I can say we haven't done well.

What about automation?
Automation is no longer an option, manufacturers should support by providing alternates at affordable costs.

What are the key challenges facing your vertical in the industry?
We provide short-run offset and digital print services. We are noticing further shrinkage of run lengths and loss of business due to digital media. With digital printing, there are expectations of even shorter turnaround times and declining profit margins since the FSMA rates are public knowledge!

The culture of print businesses 20 years ago is very different from what it is now. How do we make print more attractive?
The only way to entice buyers is to supply for "free". Everything is so price driven, it's frustrating.

One innovation in our industry you hope to see in 2030?
A machine that instantly recycles paper, converts it to a printable form and finally prints it with some kind of ink - all this with a minimum carbon footprint.