Burda in India: Towards 18 crore books in FY2016

The production team at the Burda Druck factory in Greater Noida has re-shaped its print production ability so as to cater to a buoyant textbook market as well as the magazine sector. Rahul Kumar reviews how the gravure heavyweight has pushed up both sales and margins.

29 Jun 2016 | By Rahul Kumar

B S Shesh, CEO of Burda Druck India says, "Burda Druck India is a very young organisation which has just completed five years of commercial production. We expect at least 50% growth in terms of revenue in the current year – and expect to achieve a turnover in the excess of Rs 250 crore."

A part of Burda Druck GmbH Germany, the factory in Greater Noida takes pride in being the first rotogravure printing installation in India in textbook printing, transforming the gravure process and making it suitable for printing on maplitho substrate. Burda Druck GmbH prints the world’s leading magazines, catalogues, and brochures such as Elle, Playboy, Focus, Lisa etc.

But the ace up Burda's sleeve is education. Shesh says, "Currently the company is strengthening its position in the education sector. We are planning to add various other services from next year." And so, the company's plan is to create a production facility in west and south to expand in western southern India and tap the market in Africa.

Shesh is clear about one thing, "The Bangladesh textbook market which gives a 15% price benefit to local printers means the company will not enter Bangladesh till this adverse term is eliminated."

Till such time, the Greater Noida factory will produce and execute orders for Africa. The numbers are staggering. Burda Druck India has created a brand reputation to "convert upwards of 35000 tonnes of paper this year and manufacture in excess of 18 crore books including the online bound products." Most of calculation depends on 54 gsm paper with binding options like saddle stitch, perfect binding (with or without PUR) pin binding, thread sewn binding.

The HT association
Burda Druck GmbH is a part of the Hubert Burda Media Group, 2.6-billion euro sales, 234 consolidated companies worldwide, over 10,000 employees, engaged in publishing and rotogravure printing with an annual output capacity of 350,000 tons of paper.

Shesh reminisces, "Burda Druck India was set up as a joint venture between HT Media limited and Burda Druck GmbH, Germany and was named HT Burda Media. However in October 2013 Burda Druck GmbH, Germany purchased the entire shareholding of HT Media in the joint venture."

After the share acquisition, Burda Druck Germany changed the name of the company from HT Burda Media to Burda Druck India a private limited company. Now Burda Druck India is a 100% subsidiary of Burda Druck GmbH, Germany and HT Media does not have any stake in this company. Shesh adds, "However Burda India continues to have a very good business relationship with the HT group and continues to print some of its important products."

Pre-press systems
Today the workload at the factory produces 60 international and 18 domestic magazines which depend on strong foundation of pre-press. Along with this, the Burda team is also co-ordinating with many Indian corporates for their pre-press work like handling their ad campaigns.

This hinges on some nifty pre-press work. The workflow is simple.
Customer Input : The Burda team receives inputs from customers through the Infocus Connect software. Immediately, an auto generated mail is sent to the customer stating receipt of files and inputs.

Workflow: Burda deploys the "Infocus Power Switch" software for faster and efficient error-free workflow right from getting raw images till the final corrected images being sent to the customer

In process: After which customized Apple Scripts for faster process is used in order to reduce repetitive manual work in terms of handling the files and inputs
Colour Enhancement: Camera Raw software along with Photoshop is used for better colour enhancement

Quality Check: There are soft proof stations, wherein colours can be checked in soft format as per ISO standards. This reduces the need of hard copy proofs viz. Epsons thus it is a cost saving method

Post-press clout at Burda
A lot of the work is produced on the 30-clamp Kolbus (model KM 412B). Shesh says, "This machine - the Kolbus Publica KM412B binder - has been differently designed by Kolbus for us. In real terms this means, it has a clamp size of 510mm which can take two-up textbooks, coupled with a slitting unit and two three knife trimmers."

This 30-clamp perfect binder has got a speed of 12,000 copies per hour which can produce double of the speed in two-up production mode. Shesh states, "We are producing on an average of 2,00,000 books per day in single-up on this binder. The present work involves textbooks for the domestic and overseas market, annual reports, magazines, etc."

In spite of a PUR unit, none of the textbooks are bound with PUR presently. Although Burda India has produced a few books for the Ghana textbook market with PUR glue.

Shesh says, "PUR is still expensive as compared to conventional hotmelt and short runs on PUR on a big binder is a non-profitable proposition."

He adds, "The textbooks industry is still on sewing or perfect binding with conventional hot melt and not accepting PUR as its replacement."

Best practices
Shesh says, "The best practices wefollow include ISO and Kaizen. Mostof our focus is to have the best available skilled manpower to run all themachines. All the operators on the printing machines are diploma holders and none of our supporting staff on machine is lesser then ITI. We emphasize and spend good amount of time on training of operators."

Today, web offset presses getting wider and wider, so there is a bigger and bigger encroachment of offset into traditional gravure markets. There are 96-page offset machines being installed in a number of European businesses. While at the same time gravure has probably reached its limit  in the 4.32m press. We asked Shesh about this view on this eternal web offset v/s gravure debate?

He says, "We agree that web offset is increasing in width size in European businesses, but rotogravure due to its flexible cut off and waterless printing has an extra edge in terms of flexibility and quality.

The quality produced on rotogravure paper is way ahead then print quality on offset printing machines. There will always be a comparison but both the formats have their advantages and disadvantages."

Shesh says, the mantra at Burda is: We are in the business of time, and we deliver with matching customers quality expectations."

Gravure v/s offset - at a glance

During a visit to the Burda plant, this is what the PrintWeek India team noticed. The gravure process is to print directly on the surface of paper with waterless Inks. Cylinders are engraved with Diamond Styler’s and coloured images, and text which is formed for every colour.

Eight cylinders are made for printing four + four colour on any paper. The cylinders are mounted on to the machine with help of trolleys. The paper is fed between a cylinder and impression roller. There is a direct contact of ink roller to the bottom of the engraved cylinder which continuously takes ink from the ink chamber at the bottom of the machine.

The RG rotogravure is specialised Ink having 45% of toluene content in the basic Ink. This ink is filled in the engraved holes on the cylinder and then the ink is transferred on to the paper with help of the impression roller. There are heaters after every unit to make sure that ink is dried before entering into next unit.

• Large size reel width can go up to 2.45 metres so the number of pages printed per form can be 96 pages per sheet for A4 size

• High printing speed speeds of 40,000 copies per hour can be achieved. One of the presses at HT Burda can print, saddle stitch and finish online 96 pages (A4) with self-cover (same inner and cover paper) at the same speed, providing a swift delivery time

• Efficient paper consumption The Rotogravure press used at Burda Druck has a 16 cylinder circumferences that allow for different cut-off sizes. Since rotogravure presses can accommodate variations in height and width due to the number of cylinder circumferences available, they are more efficient in paper consumption

• Sharpness rotogravure printing provides better opacity. The images are directly printed onto the paper rather than via a blanket cylinder. An electric charge helps transfer the ink from the engraved wells in the cylinder onto the paper, making the image extremely sharp and clear 

• High ink density rotogravure colour is deeper and richer than offset, because more ink can be applied to an area than with offset. The maximum density of offset ink is about 260% for the four colours – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black – combined, while rotogravure can theoretically have a maximum density of 400%. Put another way, each colour on an offset press averages 65% density, compared with a possible 100% for rotogravure. It allows for precise registration of inks on press than offset because of the rigidity of the printing surfaces

• Better colour alignment rotogravure inks are drier and, therefore, more solid than offset inks when applied to the paper. Rotogravure printing does not use water, therefore, has less challenges in aligning ink colours. With rotogravure, the wells for each colour are etched in the cylinder with elongated or condensed shapes. Since the wells are interpretations of the halftone dot pattern of the digital files, the chance of a moiré is reduced

• Cost effective The paper web tension required for gravure is about 1 lb. per square inch, while offset requires 4.5 lbs. per square inch. With less tension, Rotogravure presses can run a lighter and less expensive paper reducing costs. Rotogravure can print on coated and super calendered paper that is lighter than 39 gsm.

• Environment friendly Gravure printing is environment friendly since 90% of the chemical in the vapor form from print is captured back, reprocessed and recycled. The printed paper is also easily recycled for use at paper mills. The Burda team says, "There is negligible hazardous waste generation in comparison to offset printing houses".

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