International Newspaper Color Quality Club, the only global competition for newspaper production

International Newspaper Colour Quality Club (INCQC), organised since 1994 by Wan-Ifra, is the only global competition that evaluates and awards print quality in newspaper production. Anand Srinivasan, manager of International Newspaper Color Quality Club competition takes through.

14 Sep 2016 | By PrintWeek India

INCQC 2016-18 competition is by far the toughest when compared with the last few editions and a tremendous amount of efforts has been made by each and every newspaper title that participated in the competition. Our hearty congratulations to the club members of INCQC 2016-18.

The competition is open for all newspapers irrespective of their production technology. To facilitate this, the competition has four technical categories – Category one for coldset printing, category two for heat-set printing in newsprint, category three for heat-set printing in super-calendared paper and category four for other printing processes like digital. Category four is also open to those newspapers that wanted to follow their own in-house standards.

INCQC 2016–2018 received a total of 130 unique entries from 29 countries across the four technical categories. For the first time, the highest number of entries came from India with 31 entries followed by Germany with 25 entries. The high number of entries from India can be attributed to the growing newspaper market in the country and the fact that standardised high-quality newspaper printing is gaining importance in this competitive market. We also find that the interest in INCQC is growing among newspapers in Latin America, from where we received 17 entries.

Before drafting the instructions for INCQC 2016-18, we discussed the format of the competition with several industry experts to gain insights to make the competition more challenging and useful for the participants. The idea of asking the participants to print the Wan-Ifra cuboid for one full week in every competition month originated in one such discussion. We also added more emphasis to the General Print Quality evaluation by inviting a panel of expert judges. To print high quality in accordance with International standards throughout the competition period is not an easy task and is possible only by getting all the production staff to be involved in the project, creating quality awareness across all departments and working on finer aspects of quality and its control. We believed that when printers think and work towards achieving high quality throughout the four months competition period, then quality will become part of their day-to-day activity and that is exactly the key objective of the competition.

To quote a participant, Patrick Zucker, managing director, Freiburger Druck GmbH + Co. KG, Germany mentioned, “The whole team of Freiburger Druck worked closely together and gave their best to print the finest high-quality products during the competition. The whole staff was very curious and full of expectations about the monthly INCQC results, which built a close connection between the printers and the whole team of Freiburger Druck. For our customers, the membership is a proof of our high standards”. From such testimonials, we are happy to note that INCQC has helped in staff motivation and development and that INCQC has achieved its objectives.

A common belief among newspaper printers is that to secure an INCQC membership, one must have a modern and state-of-the-art infrastructure. This is not the case. INCQC is based on ISO 12647-3 and this standard is applicable for all printing plants. The standard works in all parts of the world. Strict and consistent process control procedures are all that is necessary to win in INCQC. Fredrik Koch, pre-press manager, Paarl Coldset, South Africa, said, “Reaching the ISO print quality standard in a minimum amount of copies was challenging for us due to the fact that our presses are 15 years old and do not consist of any automatic register or cut-off control systems. The competition allowed us to revisit our process control methods and implement measures to strengthen our processes. We are proud to secure two memberships in INCQC 2016-18”. We also have similar examples from many other countries.

Anand Srinivasan at Wan-Ifra India Conference and Expo 2015

Winning a club membership is not an easy task either. Aspirants must re-visit their entire production workflow; streamline it to suit the recommendations of ISO 12647-3; build a team with representatives from all departments such as editorial, imaging, advertising, pagination, CTP, materials and production; make regular test runs and standardise materials, CTP, color correction, all pre-press parameters and dot gain in the press. Such a preparation would take at least 12 months before the start of the competition. We asked Aszman Kasmani, general manager production, The New Straits Times Press, Malaysia about their experience. Kasmani said, “After an unsuccessful attempt in the past, we are pleased to finally achieve qualification to the colour quality club this time around. It is a validation of our long-term strategy and the culmination of an intensive program over 16 months to get all of our equipment to the desired levels”.

Wan-Ifra India Conference and Expo 2015

Wan-Ifra also announces the inclusion of four newspapers into the Wan-Ifra’s Star Club. The new members are Freiburger Druck GmbH + Co. KG, Freiburg, Germany, Nordost-Druck GmbH & Co. KG, Neubrandenburg, Germany, Ungeheuer + Ulmer KG, Ludwigsburg, Germany and Verlag Nürnberger Presse, Nürnberg, Germany.

Star Club is an elite group of newspaper printers that have proved their consistency in quality over several years by winning in the colour quality club or achieving certifications. Star Club membership is presented to a company in recognition of outstanding printing quality if it achieves five or more stars by participating successfully in the International Newspaper Color Quality Club or by obtaining Wan-Ifra certification for standardised printing. One star is awarded for every successful INCQC participation in a competition year, independent of the number of successful entries. Two stars are awarded for the successful Wan-Ifra certification of a printing plant. Certification is valid for two years, after which it can be renewed.

Once again, we congratulate all the winners and we look forward to the next edition of the competition. Registration for INCQC 2018-20 will open on 1st of June 2017. For regular updates, please follow

Credit: RIND