How Le Griffe sought to change the offset genre - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Printing 40 jobs can perhaps get by with few worries. But what about doing 60 jobs in a 12-hour shift regularly; at times 60+ and accomplishing the feat with 12 minutes to spare?

30 Jan 2016 | By Noel D'Cunha

Most of the times it’s 40 jobs a shift on myriad substrates, says Ashok Patel, “but at times we notch-up bigger number in a 12-hour shift.” Patel is one of the three brothers who run Le Griffe Offset, the print company in Ahmedabad.

Le Griffe was established in 1987 as a screen printing unit by Patel and his brothers, Atul and Kalpesh. In 2001, Le Griffe brought in offset printing capabilities. In 2004, the company installed a secondhand four-colour Komori press, replacing it four years later with a brand new Komori LS429, which continues to occupy Le Griffe’s print production space. In February 2014, Le Griffe boosted its printing services with a new five-colour plus coater HUV K Dry, Komori Lithrone press, the first HUV press in Gujarat.

My colleague Tanvi Parekh and I visited Le Griffe, on 23 January 2016. A couple of days before our visit, Patel’s team of Rajesh Nair, the pre-press specialist at the company, Surya Singh and Pritesh Panchal, operators along with the team of six helpers began the task of printing 68 jobs in a 12-hour shift.

“We have built a reputation for being a printer which can turnaround print jobs quickly while maintaining quality,” says Patel.
Le Griffe had three days to process and print 680 copies of a 272-page book plus the cover (the name of the book is not disclosed as the final consignment is yet to be delivered). The first two days were spent preparing plates, press proofing and colour corrections, and the final plates for printing.
The task begins
It was a bright and pleasant day, says Patel. “The first two days went into planning the job, but we knew that it would be a hard slog of getting the 68 jobs printed in the stipulated time. But the team was determined to do it.”

Nair, the pre-press specialist, produced the final 68 sets of four-colour Kodak plates on the previous evening.
The required number of 225gsm Sappi paper sheets were neatly stacked and loaded on the press to print the four-colour jobs. The ink used was Irish Varn’s Imperial four-colour set.
The operators Singh and Panchal and their team began printing at 9.28am.
“In the first few hours when we were around four to five jobs an hour, we felt we were going comfortable,” says Panchal. But when the team sat for lunch at 2.30pm, five hours after they had started the jobs, they had just done 25 jobs. The team panicked a bit. The rising requirement of printing the jobs gave rise to scepticism, similar to what we experience in a tense run chase during a one-day international or a T20 cricket match.
A quick lunch of 30mins was taken. 
The post-lunch session began with a sense of urgency. “We had done about 25 jobs in a five-hour stint, and there were another 43 left to be done in the next seven hours,” says Panchal. The frantic race against the clock began, and it seemed that time was the common enemy for this team.
As soon as one job was nearing completion, the team members would be ready to load the next set of plates. And even if it was an auto plate-loading machine, the right set was required to be placed on the top of the plate loader, and the operators shaped their contribution directly to the press. 
“We upped the press speed to 12,500sph, calibrated our movements to produce more per hour,” says Panchal.
The number of print jobs produced post-lunch was impressive. By 9.16pm, 12 minutes before the completion of 12-hours, the sheets for the 272-page book were ready to be sent for post-press activities and delivery the next morning.
Le Griffe averaged 9.97 mins per job, with a wastage of not more than 10-15sheets.
Le Griffe specialises in brochures, catalogues, posters, direct mail and direct marketing mailers, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, art reproductions, museum prints, manuals, and books. Back in the day, it would take up large jobs, but today, it also does small runs, like this one. 
Patel remembers those halcyon days when the runs used to be in thousands, and jobs logged for the next seven to eight days. "Today, smaller print run jobs represent a sustainable living as long as you can produce high-quality jobs in quick time," says Patel.
To print a four-colour job is one thing. A high-quality print short-run job in quick time is quite another. When complemented for achieving the feat, Patel was modest in his response. “It was one sized job, did not need feeder set, the automated press with auto plate loading and auto registration, did not need a blanket wash, and the EasyTrax helped calibrate the colours.”
A dash of appreciation
Faheem Agboatwala, managing director of Hi-Tech Printing Services and president of BMPA made a dash to Le Griffe recently, when he learnt that the company produces 60 jobs in a shift and wanted to know how did they do it?
He says, the way they do quick makereadies yet maintaining very high quality is quite commendable. “But what impressed me more was their ability to share - selflessly. Salute to the three brothers.”
Agboatwala says, “It’s not about the machine - it's about the wonderful men behind the machine that impressed me.”
The print operation team has been with Le Griffe for quite some time, most since it brought in the first press in 2001, some during the screen printing days. “With this kind of backing, we think we can go as fast as it can get,” surmises Patel.