Empowering Indian book printers to set high standards of quality

24 Jan 2013

India is fast emerging as the leading market for educational publishing. The need to produce large quantity of books in short durations is putting a lot of pressure on bookbinding capacities. The objective of the WTS is to raise the efficiency and competence of Indian printers to match international standards, given the current environment.

 Welbound Technical Services (WTS) is a brand independent initiative by Welbound to provide multi-level services to book printers. The aim is to raise “efficiency and competence of an Indian printer to match international standards.” Easier said than done? This is where WTS enters into the scenario. What started with an emphasis on training has been extended to ensure that a book printer’s business is profitable as well as competent. 

To achieve this WTS broadly caters to a strategy which involves four critical aspects:

  • Training
  • Technology up-gradation
  • Process integration
  • Process audit

Training: Case Study I

WTS took up the task of improving the efficiency of a relocated perfect binding machine which was manufactured in Europe. The biggest worry for that particular printer (name withheld on request) was the output of 3000 books per hour as against its capacity of 7000 books per hour.

Arvind Kalasur-Thomson Press

Arvind Kalasur explaining a point to the production and maintenence team of Thomson Press,  Faridabad

The task had begun with the director of WTS, Arvind Kalasur, taking charge of the operating and maintenance team that was assigned to the machine. It was spread over a period of 15 continuous days. The first step involved pointing out the inefficiencies that were occurring on the machine. The components were re-calibrated and the missing links bridged. These were perfected in presence of the two teams and their skill set was upgraded to further continue with optimum handling of the machine. It broadly involved understanding of the hardware and most importantly the critical electronic components which the operator is often wary of. The operator was made to understand that the machine cannot be looked upon as a “push button” device that will function on its own. If the machine reading displays a clamp opening of 10 mm then it has to be measured and calibrated if needed.

This further culminated into an on-site training for the operating teams where they were made to utilise the machine while WTS monitored the process. WTS also upgraded the team with the maintenance aspect of the machinery, thus laying an emphasis on the fact that there should be an equal awareness about the requirement among both the operating as well as the maintenance team.

This emphasis on awareness was extended to the production manager level on the final day where WTS presented an ideal workflow situation for book production right from the origin of the job to the final product.
After having thoroughly focussed on the internal factors of book production, next step included an awareness of the external factors. A seminar was held for the team to understand basic technical aspects of the raw materials like adhesives and paper.It is here that WTS also marks a differentiation in the definition of quality. What gets perceived as “good quality” by the operators is at times different from the actual requirement. An increased involvement between the stakeholders at various stages of book production results into a better throughput.

Technology up-gradation: Case study II

A book printer from rural India had an international bid to fulfil with a quick turnaround time. The printer has a relatively high installed capacity to produce hotmelt perfectbound (un-sewn) books. However, the international order required the books to be produced by PUR. When the book printer approached WTS, its team first visited the manufacturing site to check the conditions.

As Dinesh Ingawale of WTS states “PUR binding capability can be achieved with a well maintained machine, workflow and manpower trained to understand the specific requirements of the process. Here was a case of preparing a pre-owned German perfect binder with built in PUR applicator to produce books in an environment without any experience to do so.”

The installation of this pre-owned machine involved a close look at the wear and tear components as any problems related to clamping and milling would lead to disastrous results. The next step involved training and education on the PUR technology to the workforce that would be handling the machine. The machine was put into production by the WTS team and monitored till the operators were ready and confident.

Process integration: Case Study III

A book printer with an international repute opted for a used perfect binding line from Europe. The printer got WTS on board which installed the machine. WTS then put the machine into trial mode and prepared a chart of replacement of parts and the missing links that were required to achieve an efficient inline system. The automation levels of the machinery were upgraded based on the specific requirements of the printer.

On bridging the missing links Suresh Nair of WTS states, “There are times when even a high-end machine is not able to match your productivity and quality requirements. We have the expertise and the complete technical knowledge to understand the gaps and suggest the most cost effective solutions.”

The challenge was to get closer to the rated capacity of the machine: this meant that all the issues seen while commissioning needed to be addressed in a time bound manner. The operators and maintenance engineers were given comprehensive training on the upkeep of the machine. WTS intends to monitor the progress through regular follow-ups.

suresh at thomson press

Suresh Nair provides training on machine settings and tracing problems.

Process audit: Case Study IV

There are instances when a book printer heavily invests in plant & machinery as well as software systems and is yet not able to enhance productivity and quality. There are often gaps in planning, skills and coordination that leads to this scenario. The WTS process audit involves thorough evaluation of all parameters like manpower, organisation, system, process, enterprise, and product.

Currently WTS has undertaken the process audit of one such book printer. For this, WTS personnel parked themselves at the printer’s base. They observed the procedures, took various interviews – right from the owner to the operator, collected information, viewpoints and the perceptions. This was categorised under three broad objectives of process control, capacity planning and automation. WTS trickled down to these three objective after a careful and detailed study of successful organisations.

The software and systems of production planning captures most of the data and reports information on daily production, make-ready of jobs, work in progress and so on. However these do not provide a feedback on where things are going wrong. WTS studies these ground realities and prepares a road map for improvement that includes up-gradation of skill set and better coordination at the plant level. WTS makes the printer fully aware of the findings and inefficiencies which included hidden costs through wastage and rejection.


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