How Rahul Print O Pack scaled new heights with Heidelberg

A dedicated book printer based in Delhi, and a Heidelberg loyalist, Rahul Print O Pack recently invested in its fourth Heidelberg, the Speedmaster SX 102 – 8P, and a Suprasetter CTP. The father-son duo Ajay and Rahul Soni share the company growth story with Rahul Kumar.

15 May 2024 | By Rahul Kumar

(l-r) Rahul Soni, Seema Soni and Ajay Soni of Rahul Print O Pack

Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi-based Rahul Print O Pack, a first-generation books printer, recently installed its fourth Heidelberg sheetfed printing press with its second Heidelberg Suprasetter CTP. The reason for the investment, of course, is the growing demand. The company is growing at a CAGR of more than 20%. 

Journey with Heidelberg 

Ajay Soni, the founder of Rahul Print O Pack, established the company in 2018 with the Heidelberg kit, and since then the company has had six machines from the German giant.

The first machine was a four-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster CS 92 printing press, and with this machine, Soni says, he shifted from being a freelancer to a printer. Before this, he used to outsource his printing requirements with some printers.

“We had heard all good things about Heidelberg and are aware of its printing output. Thus, we opted for our first Heidelberg. We have realised that our decision was correct; both in terms of the quality of printing and the robustness of the machine.” 

"After evaluating a few Japanese suppliers, we were determined that Heidelberg had stood out as a perfect partner to us. Their reputation for quality and innovation aligns seamlessly with our needs, ensuring a partnership that promises efficiency and excellence."

“Heidelberg has trumpeted the results as proof that its presses are the most productive as compared to anyone in the industry while producing the lowest cost per sheet. Heidelberg has always been a true workhorse for us.”

Starting a printing press was a big decision, but Soni says since he had been in the industry for a long time and had good relationships with print buyers, he started getting work faster than he thought. 

In 2019, the company opted for a thermal CTP, the Heidelberg Suprasetter A 106 with Prinect. “It was a good move to fulfil our CTP requirements, Soni says. “We could opt for more economical options for printing plates by opting for CTCP and other equipment but we opted for one of the best thermal CTPs in the market. Thus, we could control two steps of print production – pre-press and printing.”

As the company grew, in 2020, it opted for another four-colour Heidelberg CS 92. Soni says, “Our customers were happy with the printing quality, and we were able to meet their demands and expectations with our infrastructure, especially with the new press. The new machine gave us enough confidence to produce quality prints and achieve a faster turnaround time.”

Ajay Soni, founder, Rahul Print O Pack with Harish Gogia, cluster sales head (North & East), Heidelberg India

Further investments were on the cards, but the pandemic halted the plans. 

In 2023, the company invested in its third Heidelberg Speedmaster CX 92 four-colour printing press with the Heidelberg Suprasetter 106.

To increase its printing capacity in 2024, the company installed a Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 102 – 8P, an eight-colour perfector printing press. 

“Now, we can print on both sides in one go. This Speedmaster is customised for 92 formats. The Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 102 has a maximum print output of 14,000-Sph with a print format of 640×920-mm,” Soni explains.

To cater for the complete book printing segment; the company has installed multiple machines in its post-press department.  

Just books

Rahul Print O Pack is dedicated to book production, and according to Rahul Soni, the second generation of the family-owned business, the company has seen good growth in the segment. 

“We can produce more than 50,000 paperback books a day. We are utilizing more than 80% of our capacity at the moment with the complete Heidelberg presses. We have a facility for hardbound books, but it is manual, as the demand is less. We are ready to install an automatic machine for hardbound cover as and when the demand rises,” Rahul Soni says.

As the book business is seasonal, the company works at complete capacity. When the workload reduces, it engages with packaging clients as well. 

Soni adds, “We are not into hardcore packaging. Our packaging is related to books. We produce packaging for combo books with innovations. Around 25% of our work comes from those combo books. Higher education books are not seasonal. Orders keep coming but print runs are less.”

Soni envisions a growth trajectory for the book business in India as well as abroad, and he would like to establish the company as one of the sought-after book printers in India and abroad. 

“Our average growth rate is 25 to 30% per annum. In previous years, it has reached 50% as well. By next year, we plan to increase our capacity up to 60,000 books per day. Hence, we have installed the eight-colour perfector press,” Soni says.

And the reason for this growth? Soni answers, “We found that people from the industry earn from the industry but do not invest back into it. Hence, they do not see the growth.”

He says all a publisher wants from its print partner is quality books with minimum turnaround time. 

Capturing the book market

The company’s pre-press and printing segments are well-equipped and are performing well. Soni, the next huge investment will take place in post-press. “We have recently invested in multiple Aster’s sewing machines. We plan for multiple investments in the post-press segment to make production faster and avoid bottlenecks.

“We have decent runs, and to convert these, we need a strong post-press department,” he says, adding,” Another investment on cards is the purchase of land. We are looking for land, around two acres, in nearby geography. Due to the lack of space, we had to rent a facility to house the new eight-colour perfector.”

Talking about market expansion, Soni added, “We see a scope in books. If you look at the international factors, they also indicate that books have a stable market. As overseas publishers are also looking to get their material published in India, the country is in a good position to dominate the international supply chain.”

At the same time, Soni believes the company still has a long way to go. 

He explains, “In the medium term, I don’t see us diversifying into packaging, except for book packaging, which is a big business for us now. Approximately 25 to 30% of our revenue comes from the combo books business because most book printers don't offer such solutions. There are separate vendors for separate things. But we provide the complete range. My father's knowledge of the business helped us grow. We design these products ourselves. Hence, we see a future in books.”

Ajay Soni: Working with Heidelberg

We have experience with the Heidelberg presses over the years; technology and quality are unmatchable, and we have excellent service support from Heidelberg India. Since we already have the 92 format presses, we have gone for customisation, a suitable size for our printing requirements with utmost cost savings.

The Speedmaster SX 102’s intelligent new design provides easy access and overview with Intelliline and improved operator ergonomics without a need for additional space. 

The Speedmaster SX 102  perfecting press, is meant for an intelligent interplay of automation components with the precision of unique perfecting and sheet travel technology, ensuring consistent high quality on both sides, from the thin substrate (0.03-mm ) to thicker board (0.60-mm).

The SX 102 perfector is magical to print straight and at the press of a button, in no time it prints front and back.

We consume around 40 to 50 printing plates a day. The Suprasetter offers a minimum plate format of 370×323-mm, and we are running it at 29 plates an hour. During the season, it fires around 9,000 plates a month. The CTP is integrated with the Prinect workflow for seamless production of plates and job integration with the press. 

The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) rate of the Heidelberg presses is brilliant, and we are crossing a great impression count year on year.