Print in Jaipur and Jodhpur gets a boost with digital - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Smaller cities, other than metros, were never considered markets for digital print. But circumstances, and falling print runs, have forced even those playing the offset craft to take the help of digital print service providers. In this Sunday Column, PrintWeek finds out how the benefits of affordable and fast production with less set-up and maintenance hassle allow digital print service providers to produce what they want, when they want it, and more tailored manner. Read the tale of two digital printers in Jaipur and Jodhpur

30 Apr 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

Shyama Art Frames (SAF) in Jaipur believes in the 7Ps. That is, price, product, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence. As Jitesh Kumawat says, "These 7Ps play a significant role in every part of our business."

There was a time when SAF couldn't even meet its needs. And today, the digital print firm provides employment to a team of hundreds. By 2025 the target is: 1,000 employees

Kumawat started the SAF business in 1998. On cue, he encountered much strife. His son, Kumawat, says, "In those days, there was neither any machine nor any means. My father started this work with limited resources. He worked long hours and through hard work and perseverance. He borrowed Rs 5000 from someone and grew this business to this point by adding and valuing every single paise. Kumawat adds, "We have reached this point today, and this is still the 'beginning'.

Today, the SAF brand name boasts an exclusive range of modern art paintings, religious art paintings, canvas paintings, designer picture frames, modelling picture frames and laminating picture frames. These paintings and designs are printed on the Konica Minolta C12000 kit. Kumawat says, "The banner printing capability of C12000 is beneficial for our business. The painting sizes of 10x30-inch, 12x25-inch, and 12x35-inch are the offerings under the SAF brand."

SAF's brand building
It began in 2015 when Kumawat completed his MBA from the Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies. Next, he got placed in Aditya Birla (Madhura) while working. Kumawat used to invest 6-8 hours apart from office time in listing paintings on online platforms like Flipkart And Amazon. Kumawat says, "We have seen a spike in sales during that time. Also, I noticed that we have a lot of potential to reach millions of people."

Kumawat adds, "After 18 months of experience, I left the job and plunged full-time into this business. Now SAF is the market leader in the paintings category with a 65% share in the online market." Kumawat attributes it to the 7Ps of marketing, which he studied during his MBA and applied to the business.

Today, SAF's daily capacity for manufacturing paintings has increased to 8,000 units per day because all the facilities are in-house, from printing to final packaging. The focus is on automatic machines, manpower, and job management. Kumawat says, "Now we are planning to upgrade our printing engine from a Konica Minolta 3070P to a Konica Minolta 12000." When we asked him why, he replies, "The difference between both the machines is speed, cost and quality."

SAF's relationship with Konica Minolta began in Sep 2019 with the purchase of the C3070P (LPP segment). Despite being a light production machine, SAF had printed 1.5 lakhs (A3) prints in a month. As Kumawat says, "This gave us confidence about the machine's reliability, performance, and quality as well as company after-sales services."

That is how SAF chose Konica Minolta again. This time, the SAF team opted for the Accurio Press C12000, which has a speed of 120 PPM (A4), supports paper up to 450 gsm and is a robust machine capable of delivering 25,000-30,000 prints per day.

Konica Minolta contributed to SAF's business expansion by providing higher productivity and comprehensive media compatibility. As Kumawat says, "The Konica Minolta C12000 model has also increased our operational efficiency with an easy-to-operate customisable operation screen, colour management tools and job management utility. The quality of output on embossed paper is excellent and has a resolution of 3,600x 2,400dpi at 8-bit print images with fine detailing."

Advantage SAF
Kumawat says, "The eCommerce business is on the rise and will evolve. It has changed customer behaviour, needs, and shopping trends extensively. Moreover, the pandemic has also boosted online spending. Based on customer reviews and comparison of the products in online platforms, we can also create our unique marketing strategies."

Kumawat feels digital print is the right device in this day and age. For one, Kumawat says, "It's incredibly fast." He explains, "If you are working within a tight deadline and have to get it done, digital printing could be your best option and printing on a digital press is as easy as pressing 'P'. Also, technology has permitted digital presses to provide a superior colour gamut as well as vibrant colours."

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the key to SAF's success, and the team rigorously follows SOPs. It helps with the timely delivery of orders and in increasing production efficiency. Managers consistently strive to achieve maximum output without sacrificing high-quality standards.

On average, SAF prints 5-10K sheets daily for the A3 category. Kumawat says, "Our output is massive because of the Konica Minolta machines we utilise. Konica Minolta has been a significant driver for our vast outcomes."

For A3 sheets, SAF's maximum output for a single day had been 15,000, which Kumawat believes would have been challenging without Konica Minolta's print technology. Kumawat says, "Our collaboration with Konica Minolta made us leverage their expertise in the industry and state-of-the-art printers to lead to fabulous results."

Singhvi Prints: Riding opportunities in a "tourist-driven" city
Aditya Singhvi shapes the Jodhpur-based digital print firm's business strategy involving partnerships with a focus on teamwork and service delivery 

Aditya Singhvi, director of Singhvi Prints in Jodhpur, is a digital print-empowered entrepreneur who has seen decent as well as consistent growth since he, along with Shilpa Jain, established the digital print firm. Singhvi Print has seen a 20-25% per annum growth rate, and one of the success mantras, Singhvi says, is, the firm's entry into the digital printing segment at the right time. "Established in 1999, we are one of the oldest and top digital printing firms in Jodhpur, focussing on premium quality and quick services to our clients."

According to Singhvi, Jodhpur's printing industry is very active, and its growth has been rapid year-on-year. "Successive governments have put Rajasthan on the tourist map, and Jodhpur has benefited from it. Being a tourist designation is an added advantage for the city," he said. That's one of the reasons, why Singhvi's long-term plan is to add more outlets to it presently single-unit. "We'd also like to cater to the neighbouring districts such as Bikaner and Jaisalmer."

Singhvi Prints presently has four Konica Minolta presses - two are colour and two mono. It recently added the Accurio press C12000 to its armoury. It has a workforce of 16 members.

Singhvi Prints' relationship with Konica Minolta began in 2017, when it produced its first light colour printer C2060, a 60ppm speed machine capable of printing on 300gsm sheets. "Our relationship grew stronger as we continued to invest in KM machines."

Bringing in digital print efficiency
The firm's latest investment in Konica Minolta Accurio Press C12000 was prompted when the company, for some reason, could not deliver a key customer's urgent requirement. "Despite having a daily schedule, we could not deliver. A single delay in delivery is not acceptable. Hence we decided to invest," said Singhvi. "Now we easily perform additional jobs in addition to our daily schedule with systematic teamwork, assigned tasks to team with a daily and weekly plan."

The Konica Minolta's Accurio Press C12000 has a rated speed of 120ppm with 450gsm paper substrate supportability and a monthly duty cycle of 22-lakhs A4 sheets. It can print at a maximum speed of 69ppm (A3 colour) at a resolution of 3,600 x 2,400 dpi with support on texture, and envelope media. It can also print banners in sizes of up to 13x51-inch. 

"The C12000 has a machine life of six-crore A4 prints or seven years," adds Singhvi. "Along with the machine, we received complete training from the Konica Minolta. We believe KM is the best option. Of course, the cost will increase, but we have customers who want that quality and are ready to pay."

Focus on service
Singhvi Prints' customers are mainly designers and walk-ins. But the firm also provides short-run, print short runs, variable data printing and customised marketing materials for offset printers. 

A typical day at Singhvi Prints starts with the scheduling of jobs. "It usually works under intense deadlines to meet the expectations of our clients, and keep in mind every customer has different needs that may be extremely specific," says Singhvi.

The key market segments Singhvi caters to are cards (both visiting and invitation), brochures and cloth tagging. Besides, it also does book and commercial printing with a monthly print volume of one- to two-million mono prints and three-lakh colour prints.

In its endeavour to provide timely service, Singhi deploys Konica Minolta's workflow – AccurioPro Print Manager. It is an application that supports the general management of printing systems. It helps to check the status or manage the job using the browser from the computer via the network. "We can monitor a wide range of different actions from receiving the image controller's job data to job output by the printer engine. We can also check active jobs, hold jobs, secure jobs, and HDD stored jobs and perform various operations for jobs in this range."

Singhvi is particularly impressed with the 'hot folder' in the workflow. "It is a specialised folder that contains unique print settings. We can easily drag and drop a file in the hot folder, which is automatically processed to fit the pre-set characteristics. It saves a lot of time."

Coping with quality expectations
Singhvi Print's mantra is: to process tasks with speed and dexterity. And to do this, the firm has the required wherewithal. That's why, Singhvi says, his firm has never missed any commitment. "The one time we narrowly missed, we invested in a new C12000 kit. In the post-press process, we offer the best-in-class service and the benefit of a machine that increases the grammage."

Singhvi recalled his firm's digital print job for Raj Pedicon in 2017. It was a centre-stitched booklet but a complicated and challenging print job. "I still remember that job had tough colours like grey, orange and light blue. It also had tiny fonts in some areas and fine detailing in a few images. This booklet is one reason we moved from the office segment machine to Konica Minolta production printer model C2060 because we were not getting the desired result in the office segment machine," says Singhvi.

Singhvi signs off by saying we believe in strengthening our printing capabilities. "Right now, we have the equipment which can handle double our present workload."

Shyama Art N Frames and the fine art of costing

Running costs: While purchasing the digital machine, one of the key factors has been its low running cost. That's why SAF installed the Konica Minolta C12000. As opposed to its competitors, SAF's per-click charges are very competitive, and the toner-out model of competitors might be good for low-coverage prints, but, in SAF's case, prints with 60-70% coverage suit the FSMA system.

The print requirement: SAF's print requirement varies from 5-10K A3 prints per day, and with the installation of Konica Minolta C12000, production capacity has been increased manifold. Considering the rated speed of 69 PPM (A3) and top-in-the-class monthly duty cycle of 22 lakhs A4, SAF is looking to double the current production in 9-12 months.

ROI: At the time of purchasing the equipment, we had done our homework with respect to ROI. Konica Minolta C12000 machine life of Rs six-crore (A4) prints, or seven years made our decision easier to have a good return on investment.