At the recent 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum, manroland web systems talked of its digital finishing solution being developed to save printed books in future. The select audience attending the forum consisted of those having stakes in the development of digital book production – from reputed global publishers, self-publishers, printing companies and suppliers to the printing and publishing industries. Organised by Interquest, a market research firm specialised in the global printing industry, the 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum presented the results of market analysis from previous years that show how the market opinion changes. In this, manroland web systems joined the discussion, leveraging on making printed book fit for the future. The company showed how to provide the most efficient and cost-effective technology in the book printing segment. As manroland web systems emerged as a top supplier of technologies in digital book production over the last few years, the company added its knowledge to the discussions that revolved around the main topic: ‘How to make the printed book more attractive to the customers in times of e-readers and tablets?’

Printed books on rise

The result of the market research at the 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum showed that the rate of book production in the UK is currently 13 percent of the total, which is an increase of 8 percent against the data in 2012. According to Interquest, the market perception is that the rate will rise to 18–20 percent by 2018. In a similar wave, the current book production in the US has even increased by 4.6 percent and bookshops have seen a recovery. Contrarily, the sales of tablets and e-readers have slowed or stagnated. A good number of digital book printers have emerged over the last few years, which is indeed a drift driven by the immense progression in digital book printing technologies, productivity and quality.

FormerLine advantages

Specially designed to meet the requirements and intended book production on an industrial scale, manroland web systems’ FormerLine is featured with continuously flexible cut-off technology capable to handle from 145 mm to 420 mm. Together with the lift collator RS 34 from RIMA, the system produces stapled signatures or up to 8,000 glued and stapled book blocks per hour with up to 70 mm magnitude in a highly efficient way and with great performance. According to the required format and pagination of the signature, the customer can choose the relevant web lead over the formers. The strongest point of the FormerLine concept is to produce different formats and paper qualities in so called ‘batches’ which can consist of different books with different page numbers. Even each individual book can have a different pagination.

In keeping with the preferences of the market, FormerLine is fast, flexible and productive. The FormerLine runs with a web speed of up to 300 m/min. The combination of a variable cut-off, a maximum web width of 1,067 mm (model with three formers) and a production speed of up to 300 m/min shows one of the best performing digital printing systems for book production in the current market. The high efficiency of the press is explained by its minimal makeready times, format changes, reel changes and industrial maintenance concepts, among other added features.

More success

New technology like FormerLine means more success as this machine helps printers to constantly meet the market requirements. The discussion at 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum showed that there are several parameters that drive the industry today. Despite the slowdown in the growth of e-books, book printers care about supply chain management— publishers want printers to be able to produce a ‘book of one’ print on demand (POD) or any number of books in a timely and soft cialis options cost-effective manner as an individual edition or in batched production using highly automated web-based job entries. These in forms of case studies were nicely presented by a number of European printers, presenting workflow and printing systems to the audience, during the forum. Publishers and printers try more and more to avoid holding stock and are moving to ‘auto stock replenishment’ business models reducing inventory and cost of stock handling. The batch-production of FormerLine exactly fulfils these requirements of the industrial digital production. As there is also growing need for adding values to printed books, digital printing brings a gamut of additional enhancers, such as personalisation, augmented reality, RFID chip insertion, inclusion of electronics within books, etc. Wider prospects

All in all, the mood at 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum (organised by Interquest) was very positive about the future of printed books. Well, the e-book has found a place in the market, but is not going to replace the physical books anytime soon. The challenges for book printers are to be able to supply a single book or several thousand books very quickly and to be able to distribute efficiently to end users or readers. Publishers and authors are in pursuit of multi-media, multi-channel solutions with no inventory and efficient supply chain from a single book upwards. That is where manroland web systems can help by supplying and constantly developing best possible solution for the digital book printing.

The publishing industry is changing – readership is low due to digital options available, print runs are diminishing (more so for trade publishers), content is changing fast and deliveries have become short-timed. In this transformational age, book printing industry has evolved to confront these technological shifts. Here, four production experts from four different publishing houses share their views on book production. The printed word is eternal…books are the main source of knowledge dissemination and an important part of cultural heritage. Production department of publishing houses play an important role. Here’s more on their views on book production.

Market shifts…

“The technological progress is def initely the biggest disruption that has altered the traditional business models and operations, and created the opportunities wherein consumers are spoilt not only for choices in terms of multiple ways that content can be consumed, but for the availability of content of their choice as well. The PG (Post Graduate) print runs will continue to see a downhill, whereas the educational print runs starting from pre-primary and going upto UG (Under Graduate) levels will continue to swell for a couple of years until the electronic methods of study are adopted in the tier 2 & tier 3 cities of our country, owing to the policy reforms & investment push in the education sector,” says Manish Pahuja of Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers.

Talking more on the technological trends, Sanjeev Misri of Ratna Sagar says, “There has been a drastic change in the industry in the last decade with the installation of brand new machines with high productivity and better quality with less input costs. This is important in today’s competitive market. Ironically these machines are feasible for large print runs. Print on Demand is the best solution for low print runs but at the same time the cost of production is so high in some cases that the publisher prefers to get the job done by conventional process and left with a minimal inventory.”

While, Manoj Mathuria, national production head, New Saraswati House (NSHPL) feels that the rapidly changing syllabus/pattern is the biggest challenge in publishing industry. “Initially the working style in publishing industry was very different but as the time and fast dilivery viagra to canada studying pattern is changing, the ways of working are also changing. Initially, we used to maintain additional stock by keeping in mind the additional demand in the coming years. But now, if we try to keep additional stock, it gets wasted as the pattern of studying, chapters, exercises etc changes. A very good example is the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum or the Value Based Questions (VBQs) or marking schemes in the schools. Therefore we have to reduce the print run as per the current demand,” he adds.

And the reading pattern of masses is another important market change that Sumit Chowdhury of Jaico Books points out. “There are lot of changes happening in publishing industry. The biggest change I have found is that people are gradually less interested to read the books due to their busy schedule. If we think about education, there are no diminishing print runs. But if we think about bigger publishers, definitely their print run is reduced due to lot of other small publishers, who print the books at very low price, using low quality of paper.”

Printer selection process…

“Large publishing groups are only interested to work with high capacity vendors who are willing to invest in paper and online manufacturing services, delivering print product in tight time-frames. Large publishing groups have moved into the vendor consolidation mode for their print buying operations, in order to achieve better costs and superior quality. The vendor base should be kept at 3-4 vendors to ensure optimum competition and derive good service delivery assurance,” shares Manish.

Manoj feels that the various parameters to be kept in mind for selecting a printer include: use of latest technology, good infrastructure or setup, power backup so that work doesn’t get delayed, and meeting the deadlines efficiently. “We are working with around 20 printers (approximately),” he adds.

Similar views were shared by Sanjeev, who says, “During selection of printer we keep in mind the infrastructure, the number of machines, facilities, working and storage area, quality, time management, service, etc. We are currently working with ten major printers in Delhi.” Sumit also has the same views and shares that they work with five/six printers.

Binding needs…

Unfortunately binding is the area where we are still lacking in terms of quality. “We can print as much as we can but we are not able to do quality binding for even half of that. It is worth noticing that all the printers now-a-days are putting machines keeping in mind the needs of textbook publishers,” shares Sanjeev.

So, do the publishing houses prefer their printers to handle their binding needs or they get it done from specialised binding facilities? “I am more comfortable if the printer is the binder, as that ensures virtually no time lag between the two processes on the manufacturing supply line. I believe that the concept of independent binders is unsuited to the publishing supply chain, due to very low interest shown by these independent binders in investing and order viagra no prescripion ramping up the service line with technological advances that could have helped their business in the long run. Instead they chose to be service providers to the large print-bind manufacturing units, allowing the large manufacturing units to take over the market,” replies Manish.

Similar views were echoed by Manoj and Sumit. “The binding of books is done by the printer only and not by an independent binder as the quantity of books is too large and we do not want the transactions to take double time,” adds Manoj.

While, Sanjeev adds, “We work both ways. While some of the books are bound by printer and some are bound by us at our in-house bindery facility with a capacity of 35,000 section sewing books per day.”

Challenges faced…

“International standard quality product delivery, on optimum costs, within the shortest possible TAT (Time for Average Turnaround), remains the biggest challenge for any service/material buyer. In order to achieve this goal, the buyer always needs to tap on market data on costs and should be able to assess the free capacity of the empanelled vendors. Despite empanelling the best vendors the quality of any product can be affected due to many reasons, therefore, there should be quality checks implemented at every stage of product creation pipeline, to ensure that the errors/defects are not seen post the manufacturing process with grave cost impacts,” told Manish.

As per Sumit, the challenges also include competition in the trade, availabilities of required paper, quality of work, modern and up-to-date printing machine availability, labour availability. According to him, if you are not getting enough labour, then books cannot be delivered on time. “So to overcome all these challenges, we do prefer well in advance planning of our schedule of productions,” he adds as a matter of fact.

Besides, quality, Manoj also shares other challenges like tight deadlines from the editorial and sales team, technical errors, on time delivery of paper affecting the overall printing time and stock of paper to be in accordance to the printing of books. While, Sanjeev shares an interesting perspective. “The challenges in the process is mainly the quality and deliverance of large volumes which is being faced by the text book publishers specially children books where the end user tests the durability of books at least for one season. Now-a-days since five subjects are put in one book and use of the same book in a day is numerous, all the more reasons to have good and sturdy binding,” he says.

Any glitches…

Production department has become very efficient these days. As Manoj puts it, “An efficient employee is the one who foresees the situation and acts accordingly. One of the most challenging jobs is identifying the exact requirement of paper as the printing solely depends on the stock of paper. Another challenge faced in publishing industry is the fluctuating rates of paper/material. Last year it increased drastically from Rs 48 per kg to Rs 68 per kg that resulted steep increase in production cost. But it did not affect us so much as we did foresee the situation and ordered the paper accordingly.” “With high capacity vendors, advanced software and machinery around even the most challenging of all tasks are faced easily. Gone are those days, when production staff looking after manufacturing jobs had to be at presses for days and nights to meet deadlines,” tells Manish.

But, still there can be few glitches, as Sanjeev shares, “Every job is challenging and even the same book behaves differently in each reprint. For instance once same paper was used in two different books and printed and bound at the same place with same environment and adhesive but one book was properly getting pasted and other was not with cover. This was a unique case which we confronted.”

Indian publications vis-à-vis international publications

“With regard to content, considering the fact that India is a non-native English speaking country, the publishers should focus on the content language and adopt an absolute zero tolerance policy on language/ grammatical errors. With regard to the quality of print product, the publishers probably need to remodel their print buying strategies to achieve better costs from high grade print manufacturers, by consolidating print runs and keeping inventories down,” shared Manish.

“We cannot compare the quality of Indian publications with international standard because Indian market is pricedriven. They need the low price books to fullfill their purpose/ requirement only,” adds Sumit.

While, Manoj suggests that to match quality of Indian publications with international standards, we need to improve the paper quality, printing and binding quality. “The overall quality of book in international publication houses is better than ours because of the advanced technology of printers and paper quality,” he feels.

-committed to provide cover-to-cover excellence

Sitting (L to R) R Jayaraman, director marketing; RS Mani, executive chairman; R Shankar, managing director; R Ravi, director operations with new generation team members.Specialized in the art of book production, Multivista Global Limited is committedly imparting marvellous values to every job while producing on an average around 80,000 books a day for the prominent publishers from both India and overseas like UK, Netherlands, Germany, Ghana, etc. How their constantly followed corporate philosophy ‘Opening new vistas and setting new standards and Times change but values remain’ has helped them to grow from a modest letterpress printer to book manufacturer of international fame, finds out D Ramalingam from All About Book Publishing. What started as different business units since their inception in the year 1974 and amalgamated into a single conglomerate under the name ‘Multivista Global Limited’ in October 1992, Multivista is a closely held public limited company, sagaciously run under astute guidance of the four brothers under dedicated roles of - RS Mani, executive chairman of the group; R Shankar, managing director; R Jayaraman, director, print solutions and marketing; and R Ravi, director, operations. The integration of the next generation has also helped them to cement their place in the industry. Jayaraman’s son Rajesh Jayaraman (a finance graduate from US), vice president (marketing) and Ravi’s son Karthik Ravi (a printing technologist from Rochester Institute of Technology), vice president (operations) have entrenched themselves into business are excitingly ready to take on challenges of this industry. Deepak Subramanian, son of Mani and Mahesh Jayaraman, son of Jayaraman are the vice-presidents (marketing) of their distribution business. Their strong belief in investing in state-of-the-art machines has paid off in the long run, and over the last decade, Multivista started setting their foot in the global market, with the mantra of ‘delivering high quality products with utmost customer satisfaction'. With staff strength of over 500 individuals, the third generation company Multivista Global Limited is now a state-of-the-art printing facility, located in the hub of software companies in the IT corridor, at Pudupakkam (Chennai).

Heidelberg CD 102 four-colour machineInitiator of the printing business was R Jayaraman who started it by outsourcing the jobs, and later seeing the increase in customer needs, put up his own press with indigenous letterpress machines, operating from a 750 sq ft space. Entering this area of operation as a commercial printer catering to the local requirements of brochures, leaflets, annual reports and other materials to clients which included leading corporate houses, banks, advertising agencies, etc, Multivista slowly migrated into manufacturing of books since last decade with the support of some of the leading publishers in India and invested extensively in both printing and binding machines enabling them to fulfill the increasing requirements for books. Previously, Multivista Print Division was situated in the ‘integrated print house’ in a multi-storeyed building at Velachery Road in city limits. With increase in international business, they preferred to be centrally located between airport and sea port for better logistics, and relocated at Pudupakkam three years ago.

Cutting-edge infrastructure…

Kolbus soft cover line with a capability to manufacture 8,000 books/hour.Being one of the leading printing facilities in India, the company is equipped with state-of-the-art printing and binding machines, along with equally efficient prepress having a Heidelberg SupraSetter CtP of size 940 mm X 1,143 mm. For single-colour, two-colour and four-colour printing, their machines include: Heidelberg CD 102 – four-colour of size 711 mm X 1,016 mm (28” X 40”), Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102 – four-colour of size 711 mm X 1,016 mm (28” X 40”) with two-colour perfecting, two Ryobi 620 - four-colour of size 625 mm X 920 mm (25” X 36”), Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 74 – four-colour of size 508 mm X 762 mm (20” X 30”), two Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102 – four-colour of size 711 mm X 1,016 mm (28” X 40”) with single-colour perfecting, Roland Parva two-colour of size 584 mm X 914 mm (23” X 36”), Heidelberg SORD – single-colour of size 635 mm X 914 mm (25” X 36”), and Heidelberg SORD – single-colour of size 508 mm X 762 mm (20” X 30”).

For binding and finishing, the company is equipped with an in-line Kolbus soft-cover binding machine along with:

12-station gatherer with signature identification facility, stacker for removal of gathered sections for off-line sewing whenever sewing is required, book block feeder in the perfect binder, 32-clamp perfect binder with hot glue facility, extended conveyor with on-line hologram-pasting facility, three-knife trimmer, and stacker for removal of finished books, having capacity of 8,000 books per hour. They also have a complete finishing system (off-line) along with: two Stahl folding machines, one Diploma folding machine, two Muller Martini Inventa Plus automatic section sewing machines, one Muller Martini online saddle stitching machine, Polygraph – 18-station collating machine (side gathering) etc.

Ensuring quality with quantity…

On asking about total capacity of their overall production, Jayaraman replied, “With our Kolbus line able to produce 8,000 books per hour, in one long run job we were able to produce 1,25,000 books in three shifts. We can safely put our average daily production at 70,000 to 80,000 books a day. The end customer sees our product as a book, while we see the results of our quest for perfection in every page. We are committed to provide cover-to-cover excellence.”

As far as quality is concerned, Karthik (Six Sigma certified professional) added, “Multivista is an ISO 9001 certified company (certified by TUV). The quality management systems in Multivista are a set of well-defined procedures, checklists, and guidelines, which address every step in the delivery workflow. We conduct regular internal quality audits to verify compliance. Based on the analysis of our internal audit and the feedback received from our clients, we implement effective process controls at every stage of the production process. As part of our quality policy, we believe in investing towards state-of-the-art printing and binding machines and use the highest quality inputs to meet our clients’ expectations.”

Multivista has also set up a separate export-oriented unit – EOU, aimed at facilitating delivery of books to Indian book sellers on behalf of international publishers, as there is considerable demand within India for foreign books. Instead of directly importing books from foreign publishers, those received from EOUs, but printed for foreign publishers bring in a substantial saving in freight element for the import of books.

Going beyond…

Asked about their expansions plans, Rajesh quipped in, “We have implemented SAP as our ERP backbone which will further support our operations with tight integration across all functional departments and provide all our clients with real-time information. We have initiated dialogues with major print machinery manufacturers regarding various options to enhance our pre-press, print and bind capacities. Today, we are looking towards further growth by investing to augment our capacity and enabling us to expand our services to our clients in both domestic and international markets.”

When we pick up a book at a bookstore, we often judge it by its cover. The production quality of the books speaks for itself. Here, AABP met a cross-section of production personnel at top production houses to know what goes in producing a book – an art in itself. Book production is an art – every time a new title is produced, it is a blend of many a creative minds – right from the author to the designer to the printer and last but not the least – the binder. Amongst all this, production personnel of a publishing house play an important role. It is he/she who decides the overall production aspects, finds the best printer and binder to suit his/her requirements and sometimes even supervises the whole production process.

We, at AABP, met a cross-section of top production personnel is some of the reputed publishing houses to know more about them and how they manage to achieve a masterpiece every time. Excerpts.

The diminishing print runs…

The industry is facing the problem of short-runs. Digital printing, which was once considered an unviable option for book printing, is making deep inroads in the industry. “As the world is getting flat, the competition is increasing. Technology took the front seat and becoming game changer. Pressure on cost has increased multi-fold hence the need to improve efficacy,” told Subhasis of Pearsons.

“The biggest change I have found is that people are gradually less interested in reading books due to their busy lives. But, if we think of education books, the demand has not decreased. But for the big publishers, the print runs are reducing because smaller publishers offer books at very low prices, which fulfill the students’ requirements. Bigger publishers cannot offer books at low prices because their administrative expenses are high,” told Sumit of Jaico Publishing House.

While, Surendra of Pratham feels that the current print runs have become very low due to development of electronic media.

But, Manish of Sage sees this as an opportunity. “Publishing business is very exciting in current times. Exposure to a global marketplace and accessibility of content from multiple platforms is probably the biggest opportunity for Indian publishers. In the past, the content was offered only via one single platform i.e. print. Today, a publisher can market the content across multiple platforms, in various formats, and with a global reach. Therefore, the print run units may seem diminishing, but the publisher's revenue line is not suffering, as the business operates on a multiple market / format. Publishers today do not want to stock their warehouses, and technologies viz. Print on Demand have facilitated this requirement. Costs should not go rising while all these methods are implemented,” he shared.

The printers’ selection…

All the publishers, it seems, opt for a printer with one-stop solution and ofcourse the timely delivery. As Subhasis puts it, “There is a robust process to choose our vendors. We believe in consolidation and long term relationship. We would like to treat our vendors as our partners. It is a continuous process and we invest heavily on relationship management. So, both need to be honest and serious about this relationship. Our printing needs are 15 percent Hardbound and 85 percent Paperbacks in Trade. However, in Education sector, majority is in Paper backs. Since binding is an integral part of that process, we entrust end to end process to the printer.”

Similar views were shared by Sumit of Jaico Publishing House, “Since timely supply of books is very important in our trade after we procure an order, our printing needs are always urgent, i.e. we need book on a short turnaround time. So, we always opt for a printer with good infrastructure and new technology, who can supply the books as per our requirement. Also, we look for a printer with in-house binding section. We have almost 7-8 printers on our panel.”

While, Manish of Sage told, “The most important factor while selecting a print vendor depends on his capability to deliver in the shortest TAT. This implies that the print vendor should possess the offset mechanisation and POD technology, together. The print vendor should be able to supply the publisher with small print runs in real time and also be able to be cost-effective in large print runs. I prefer to work with 4-5 middle level printers, as that suits my current workload.” He further added that printers who do not have a complete binding setup in-house are a strict no-no for me.” However, I would definitely prefer to go to a independent binder in case of a special requirement, where the print vendor may not be able to have the specialisation / mechanisation which limits his capability to translate our design values into manufacturing,” he added.

“There are mainly three things we look for in a printer - quality, cost & timely delivery. We are working with top printers like EIH, Rave India, Nutech, Excel, Vinayak, Sandeep & J.K. Offset,” shared Surendra.

Challenges faced…

As per Sumit, “The challenges we are facing include competition in the trade, availability of required paper, quality of work and the availability of modern and up-to-date printing machines, besides the labour availability which sometimes become a major issue. To overcome all these challenges, we plan well in advance for our schedule of productions.”

While, Manish feels that the biggest challenge for a publisher is inventory management. “Almost all the publishers in India, still primarily operate in the print business, and the decisions of what to print, how much and when, are the ones that always need to be dealt with. Effective supply chain management and ability to cut down on TAT, is the only solution to this problem. This again emphasizes the need for print vendors with capability to deliver on both, offset and POD modules,” he asserted.

Surendra of Pratham feels that the quality of paper, printing, binding & finishing are the challenges in this field. “The above problem can be overcome before the actual printing process starts. For example; we have to check paper quality before printing,” he added.

While, Subhasis feels that the main challenge is communication. “People do not recognize the strength of pro-active and good communication. A lot of problem could be resolved, if we work with transparency, take pride to our work and communicate in time. We also would like our partners to synchronize their workflow with ours. This could avoid quite a lot of uncertainty,” he added.

Quality at par with international standards…

It is a debatable issue that quality of Indian publication is at par with international standards or not. While, we can find very good quality books published in India, we can also find very poorly produced books as well. Quality comes at a price…and it can be maintained only if books are priced accordingly, But, the cut-throat competition in books sometimes brings the quality down.

“The quality of Indian publications cannot be compared with international standards because India is a price-sensitive market. We, at Jaico Publications, always try to maintain good quality of books at low prices,” told Sumit of Jaico Publications.

But, Subhasis has a different perspective. “It is all in mind. We have the same equipment as rest of the world. We use same substrate and same quality of raw materials. Then why can’t we produce the job in same quality and in same efficiency with the rest of the world? The time has come to ask this questions ourselves, have faith on our ability. We need to adopt the change management and start working with transparency and passion. We need to admit the usefulness of workflow and need to adopt it. We must communicate clearly and pro-actively,” he shared.

Surendra also feels that if we are careful about the material & printing quality, then we can very well match the international standards.

“The Indian market is highly price sensitive and that often has made the quality of our product suffer. Internationally, a lot of manufacturing inputs are environment friendly, and effective policies are laid down to incentivise or subsidise the cost of production. Today, most of the international publishers work with Indian printers just because Indian print vendors are able to give the international publishers high quality products at a very low price. There is no dearth of high quality materials in India, but Indian publishers are still not using these as the consumer is not looking to pay up the higher price this would result in. It’s the Indian consumer who has to be sensitised towards these factors, we are getting there slowly,” added Manish.

On a concluding note…

“We all face challenges every day. It could be challenging to reproduce a colour properly, or an innovative binding or a near impossible date line. But, the main challenge lies with our ability to change. We all are changing and it is very important to change ourselves with the time. Change Management could be today's most challenging part of our job, concluded Subhasis of Pearsons.

(With inputs from Manoj Hatwal.)

–Varsha Verma

The personal profiles…

Subhasis Ganguli, vice president, production & content management, Pearsons, joined it in 2001. Prior to that, he worked with Oxford University Press for 13 years (five years in Kolkata and eight years in Delhi). In the beginning of his career, he worked in a leading printing press in Kolkata, after that in coordination, supply chain, sourcing and sales in various companies before joining OUP.

Manish Pahuja, senior production manager, SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, completed his Masters in Computer Applications, and started working for Norwegian Embassy in 1996. His tryst with publishing began completely by chance after receiving a call from a head-hunter for a job at OUP in 1998 as a production co-ordinator. After working at OUP for 11 years, he moved on to LexisNexis to head their print production for three years, before joining SAGE.

Sumit Chowdhury, production manager of Jaico Publishing House is a graduate in Printing Technology from Pusa Institute. After running his own printing business for four years, he joined Jaico Publishing House in 1995 and has a rich experience of 18 years.

While, Surendra Kumar of Pratham Books is a diploma holder from NRIPT Allahabad and he has worked in Ajanta Offset, IPP, India Today & is currently working at Pratham for the last three years.

In this issue, let us understand how workflow and environment can be controlled for optimum quality book production.

Workflow and environment

Workflow is the depiction of a sequence of operations carried out using one or more simple or complex mechanisms. Bookbinding workflow, begins where printing ends. The key links of the adhesive binding workflow are: folding, gathering, binding and trimming. There may be many other pre, post and intermediary steps. However, an important link that is invisible, but highly influential is: environment. Ambient temperature and relative humidity play a major role in workflow.


Paper is a substance that constantly interacts with the environment to balance humidity. In addition to this, while printing, moisture is either added (coldset) or removed (heatset). This leads to problems in the bookbinding workflow.

Let’s understand this more, with examples. Printed sheets in a pile are moved from an air-conditioned room to an area where the humidity is not controlled, like the open shed where the folding machines have been installed. In a pile, the edges of the paper are exposed to the ambient conditions while the central part remains unexposed. This leads to an uneven gain/loss in moisture at the edges in comparison to the inner part. The paper gains moisture, if the relative humidity is high and vice versa. Any gain or loss in moisture starts at the edges. When there is gain in moisture, the paper expands only at the edges leading to what is called as wavy edges, while a loss in moisture - leads to “cockling.”

In both cases, the paper loses its flatness and hence its machinability. It is difficult to feed such a paper in any machine for further processing. In an automatic folding machine, this leads to problems in sheet pickup, entry into the buckles/pockets, wrinkling etc. This results in wastage, increased downtime and slower production rates. Sometimes the problem is aggravated and this makes it impossible to run the paper in the machine.

Remedies for acclimitisation

Sajith PallipuramAllow sufficient time after printing, before one starts to fold. This will help the moisture content across the paper to be evenly spread. This will acclimatise the paper to the folding machine environment. The acclimatisation time can be between 8-12 hours depending upon ambient conditions. Ideally, the press and post-press environment must be maintained at the same level of humidity and temperature conditions. This will help save precious time which is needed on acclimatization.

Extreme climatic conditions

Moisture is an important component of paper. A moisture content of about 8-10 percent is necessary as it gives the flexibility to process the paper. There can be a lot of problems when paper is exposed to extreme climatic conditions. In very humid conditions, like the rainy season, the paper stock can become flimsy and difficult to process. The degree of stiffness required for optimum processing will be missing. In extreme dry weather like winter, paper can become brittle and crack especially when folded against the grain. In case of coated papers, this can lead to generation of dust.

The ideal environment for paper processing is at temperatures of 20-25°C and a relative humidity of 50-55 percent. In these conditions the paper poses the right degree of flexibility and stiffness required for processing.

Static electricity

Dry weather also leads to static electricity. In normal atmospheric conditions, the surrounding air would have neutralised this static charges, but in extremely dry weather, this leads to static electricity. This leads to paper in a pile sticking to each other. This means, multiple sheets enter the buckles of a folding machine, which results in frequent stopping of the machine. To solve this problem, one needs to employ ionisers or neutralizing bars. Both these technologies are helpful in taking out the static charges.

(To be continued in the next issue…)