TechNova facilitates violet CTP revolution in India

Pranav Parikh, the chairman and managing director of TechNova, highlights the power of print, in a conversation with Ramu Ramanathan, the editor of PrintWeek India.

06 Jul 2010 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Ramu Ramanathan (RR): TechNova is the only company outside of North America, Europe and Japan to receive the prestigious GATF InterTech Technology Award. What are the key megatrends in your company that have benefited the Indian print industry?
Pranav N Parikh (PNP): TechNova has helped transform the imaging processes in printing, textiles, engineering, signage, cartography, medical, etc.
RR: But the main thrust has been offset printing plates ...
PNP: Yes, from zinc plates to micro-grained aluminium to wipe-on to pre-sensitised to digital to chem-free digital. Also chemicals, from kitchen-made chemicals to factory-made to eco-friendly chemicals. And films, which include manual drafting films to diazo films to inkjet media.

RR: What is your current focus?
PNP: We are facilitating effortless and painless conversions from analog to digital (CTP) solutions. Also, we are trying to create a shift from the use of harmful pre-press and pressroom consumables to safe, non-hazardous and eco-friendly Green plates, chemicals and inks. And from wasteful to Kaizen-based production and business processes.

RR: The numbers for CTP installations which TechNova has masterminded - are flattering. In 2009, there were 70 violet CTP platesetters which were installed. 2010 looks better. Your comments?
We are delighted with your having recognised the incredible success of the violet CTP technology in a country that was wedded to thermal. The 70 installations you mention are in the commercial and packaging printing segment. In addition, TechNova-Agfa have been involved in 35 violet CTP installations in the newspaper segment. What is exciting for us is that we have been able to offer a formidable alternative CTP solution in violet along with thermal, inkjet and UV CTP (CTCP) space.

RR:TechNova’s acceptance as a complete digital solution provider is complete?
True, it is very inspiring. We have offered customised solutions as per customers’ application needs. But the growth of violet has definitely superseded the rest. The ripples of 2009 are sure to become waves and exceed our number expectations.

Is TechNova a rule maker or a rule follower?
PNP: Rule-breaker! TechNova’s mission is to constantly innovate to make its own products & processes obsolete. Our objective is to help our customers to set new norms and exceed them.  

RR: Today, market boundaries are changing ever more quickly, targets are elusive and market capture is at best temporary. A few companies have proven themselves adept at inventing new markets, quickly entering emerging markets, and dramatically shifting patterns of customer choice in established markets. How does one emulate such companies?
PNP: Market creators and innovators have a unique entrepreneurial DNA, that cannot be transplanted. One can endeavour to emulate their best practices. One should be driven by an inner urge to create products and services that fulfill the latent needs that even the end-users have not realised exist. e.g. iPods, Google, Smartphones.
RR: Benchmarking best practices allows enterprises to catch up with the competition, but it won't turn them into market leaders. Do you agree or no?
PNP: Best practices help improve business processes and enhance effectiveness of execution. It could also help harvest talent within the organisation and aid creativity. However, as mentioned earlier, to become a market leader requires a more mystical ability, a certain perceptiveness, to envision a better future for the served community, and the ability to create it through one’s innovative products and services.

RR: What do you believe is the most under-recognised aspect in Indian printing that is likely to become important in the next decade?
PNP: Incredible entrepreneurship of the highly talented, well educated and value-based ‘Next Gen’ that is taking over from their fathers.

RR: What does Green mean to you?
PNP: Green is the colour of nature.

RR: According to you what should the Green model in the print industry resemble?
PNP: One should not profit at the cost of nature!

RR: How?
PNP: Going Green necessitates elimination of the use of: all pollutants, all hazardous products and water and non-renewable energy. A Green factory is also a place where one ‘feels’ good! The vibes are positive and pure.

RR: You have achieved some of this at your factory in Taloja. It’s very impressive.
PNP: Thank you. We believe that any wastage is the result of some deficiency in the process which generates it and needs to be addressed. It starts by questioning the norms and finding innovative solutions. We apply the 3R concept viz. re-use, reduce and recycle. For example, our plate manufacturing plants need copious amounts of water in the manufacturing process, e.g. for rinsing. All the rinsed water is collected and recycled after proper regeneration through various treatment columns. Similarly waste paper, solid sludge from waste water treatment, recovered solvents, etc are put to re-use … including re-sale through conversion of waste into socially acceptable saleable utility products.

RR: How does one approach waste reduction, water recycling and solvent extraction at a scientific scale?
PNP: There is immense scope in the printing industry for the three key issues correctly highlighted by you viz. waste reduction, water recycling and solvent extraction. One other extremely important area is reduction of energy usage. What is needed is a sincere commitment of resources to systematically analyse and then innovate solutions with the help of specialists in these fields.  It is possible to reduce the carbon footprint of a printing plant by 30% in a short period of time, with the potential of being classified as "green" factory, instead of red or orange. This would then eliminate (at least minimize) the risk of having to relocate one’s operations to conform with the increasingly stringent environmental laws of the country. Contrary to the common perception, these measures do not cost more; in fact they save more and create an image of a caring and responsible company.

RR: When you get stuck in a business deal or a project ... how do dead-ends become new paths?
PNP: Just as in spirituality, so also in business, there are no dead-ends. Business is a continuous process of rebirth and renewal…just like a flowing river. For someone who can see beyond the obvious, every dead-end is yet another opportunity.

RR: A lot of print companies have been struggling to cut costs. Most of them are discovering the hard way that they have for too long put up with too much redundant and wasteful activity. How do you mandate cost reductions and set targets?
PNP: The first step would be to assess the scope for waste elimination, productivity improvement and reduction of COQ (Cost of Quality). Tools such as value-mapping and activity based costing help in identifying processes and activities that do not contribute to the bottomline.

RR: What about Kaizen?
PNP: Oh yes. TQM Methods such as Kaizen, Six Sigma, etc. create the right culture to achieve cost reduction objectives and are far more effective than cost reduction through management mandates.
RR: What will TechNova do differently in 2010?
PNP: Request you to allow more time to answer such complex questions. But on a serious note: Pray harder!

RR: What you won't do differently?
PNP:  We will continue our endeavour to serve our customers with passion; conceive and achieve breakthroughs; become leaner, fitter and move faster ... that’s already a lot to do for 2010.

Other Q&A sessions with:

Ashok Nerker of Unique Photo Offset

Pratap Kamat of Uma Offset

Ashwani Bharadwaj of Micro Inks

Sanat Shah of Manugraph

K C Sanjeev of Welbound Worldwide