– Jwalamukhi Mudranalaya, a leading print-shop in Karnataka, now in its sixtieth year, installs the first Heidelberg Eurobind 600 in India. Read on – an inspiring story of passion and excellence.
As the printing world gears up for the much awaited DRUPA 2012, Jwalamukhi Mudranalaya, a print-shop based in Bangalore, Karnataka, is making space for the product they intend to purchase at the event—the Heidelberg SX 74 press with a coater. When this purchase comes through, they will be the first print-shop in India to have placed the order for this power-horse from Heidelberg.
As a company that steadfastly believes in continuous upgradation of technology and machinery for their state-of-the-art press, this purchase is another evidence of their passion for printing excellence. And this passion is nothing less than a moral value here.
Mr. C S Shivakumar, CEO, Jwalamukhi Mudranalaya, is a staunch follower of Advaita, the Hindu philosophy stream that expounds non-dualism. While non-dualism in Advaita refers to the identification of the Self to the Supreme, you could very well say that this approach is reflective in Jwalamukhi’s undivided, single minded focus on excellence. And for Mr. Shivakumar and his two brothers, Mr. C S Raviprasad and Mr. C S Shankar, who manage the company, excellence in business means partnering with the best. They applied the same thought to their printing business by partnering only with Heidelberg. And this is not limited to the press solutions from Heidelberg – Jwalamukhi has Heidelberg solutions for all its operations – right from pre press, post press to consumables.
Jwalamukhis’ pre press section has a Suprasetter A 105 with G&J Processor enabled with Prinect software, as well as a flatbed scanner. In the press division, Jwalamukhi has one MOV CPC Cptronics Alcolor Heidelberg four-color press, which was purchased in 2002. Other than this, Jwalamukhi also has one SORD AO size, single-color press with Alcolor dampening, which was bought in 1991.
In the post press section, Jwalamukhi has been using the Stahlfolder 4KTL 28×40 format, since 2006. Two Polar paper cutting machines are also part of this section of the press. The newest addition is the Heidelberg Eurobind 600 Perfect Binder with gate fold wrapper feeding attachment. Jwalamukhi has also been using Saphira inks and rollers for their presses.
No wonder the tagline on Mr. Shivakumar’s business card reads, ‘Fine printing with Heidelberg technology’. Mr Shivakumar is full of appreciation for the Heidelberg team. “We are grateful to Heidelberg for the unstinted support they have given us for over 20 years! Because of their support we have been able to develop our press that can be an eye-opener to fellow press owners.”
The name ‘Jwalamukhi’ literally means a volcano. But what this company really is, is a melting pot of printing excellence – the best technologies available, sixty years of experience in delivering quality print products, and the huge wealth of knowledge of how to deliver the most complex projects without compromising on quality or timelines. Mr. Shivakumar and his brothers have been steeped in the intricacies of press since their childhood.
They have seen the dynamic transitions in the industry right from the tedious, manual composing days to todays’ state-of-the-art high speed presses. They fondly recount the mastery of their technicians who handled manual plate making decades ago, and describe it as nothing less than an art form. Their passion is palpable.
The Journey So Far
Interestingly, Jwalamukhi’s origins are in the newspaper business. They have a weekly newspaper called ‘Jwalamukhi’ published in the local language of Karnataka (Kannada). They started it in the tabloid format in black and white, 59 years ago. Today it’s a four-color magazine that is distributed to its 8000 odd subscribers. Mr. Shivakumar’s brother Mr. Raviprasad looks after the magazine. Jwalamukhi also publishes its own books in English and Kannada.
Jwalamukhi came into being to handle the printing of the newspaper in 1953 with a small letterpress unit. It was founded by Mr. Shivakumar’s grandfather, Mr. C S Narayana Rao. Mr. Shivakumar attended the school of printing in 1971. In 1972-73, the press was commercialized. He went about trying to motorize some of tasks that were tedious and prone to error. This involved extensive training at all levels of the company.
Things started changing in the 1980s, when Jwalamukhi installed its first Macintosh system. Offset presses had started to make an appearance back then. Jwalamukhi outsourced offset printing at first. In 1984, Jwalamukhi became one of the first few presses in India to purchase an indigenous single-color offset press.
“Since then, there was no looking back,” says Mr. Shivakumar. In 1989-90, a second single-color offset press was bought. The first Heidelberg press was bought in 1991, which was a single-color model. “By then we had developed a passion for Heidelberg technology,” says Mr. Shivakumar. The first Heidelberg four-color GTO V came in 1994, which was replaced by a Heidelberg MOV model in 2002.
As offset presses got added, Jwalamukhi strengthened their pre-press as well. They bought an A3 size laser printer and two Macintosh computers, a photo scanner, a Lithotex camera and an automatic plate processor. In 2002-03, Jwalamukhi invested in the CtF technology from Heidelberg. The press moved to CtP in 2010 with Heidelberg technology.
Finishing and post-press also kept seeing additions such as an automatic paper cutting machine, an automatic folding machine, and a pinning machine, which were bought in 2002.“Most printers like to focus on only the press aspect. But the pre press and post press equipment need to be of high quality too. If your pre press and post press is not as strong as your press and cannot match up to its capabilities, then it makes little sense to even have the best of press” says Mr. Shivakumar.
In December 2011, Jwalamukhi became the first print-shop in India to buy the Eurobind 600, Heidelberg’s speedy binder. “We bought a binding system back in 2002. But we wanted to have better finishing and needed some extra features. In 2006, we wanted to buy the Eurobind, but it was not available. So we had to buy a new model of the old binding system. We wanted to buy the Eurobind because of its advanced features. Now we are happy that we finally have the Eurobind,”says Mr. Shivakumar.
We asked if he has seen any improvements since the Eurobind came in. “Definitely. The Eurobind has increased our book production by 25% in terms of speed. Single clamp binding machines available in the market give 300 copies in an hour, but produce fewer copies. With the Eurobind 600, I am sure of getting at least 500 copies in an hour. So I can commit the time of delivery to my customer,” he says.
“It has also reduced our dependency on manpower. We used to have three people to manage the old binder but with the Eurobind we don’t need any special operator or as many people” says Mr. Shivakumar. “The Eurobind uses a unique mechanism to apply a very thin film of glue for the spine of a book, and this saves us 10% of Hotmelt Glue we use for each book. And we get a fine finish. We have the Eurobind with gate fold wrapper feeding attachment which means we can use big paper sizes as well,” says Mr. Shivakumar.
Excellence at any Cost
The steadfast focus on excellence has been the guide for the brothers at the helm of Jwalamukhi. And it’s not limited to printing. Their attention to detail stands out. They can reel off the exact places where each of their Heidelberg purchase orders were signed, and with whom. The brothers go to great lengths to procure the best technology for their press. They attend most international print exhibitions and pick new products and consumables at discounted prices.
Mr. Shivakumar narrates the incident of having seen the newly launched Apple’s Power Mac G4 at an exhibition at the turn of the century. It was priced at around INR 300,000 back then. And since Jwalamukhi had to have that technology, Mr. Shivakumar sold off his brand new car to fund the purchase of the G4! They recount stories of learning printing techniques in Europe in freezing winters, catching subways to be at presses in the morning, staying there the entire day watching how print jobs were being done. Their thirst for learning and application continues, as their team is sent to the Print Media Academy in Chennai often for training.
This passion for excellence puts them in a league of printing that is hard to come by, not just in Bangalore, but in India as well. The numerous state and national level awards and trophies fighting for space in their room are testimony to this. “We are driven by ethics, powered by excellence and fuelled by the passion for service,” says Mr. Shivakumar. “Some of our customers have been with us for over 45 years. And tough jobs are routinely given to us.” he adds.
The print-shop has an enviable portfolio. As Mr. Shivakumar and Mr. Shankar take turns to explain some of the jobs they have executed, it’s apparent that they have put their heart and soul into each of the jobs. Having the right technology is only one aspect of excellence. Being able to exploit it to the extreme and deliver jobs that are considered impossible by other printers is at the core of this press. And it’s not just printing that this is limited to.
For instance, they devised an ingenious way to get the Stahlfolder inside the second floor of their already existing building by creating moveable floors and using a crane. It’s as if problem solving and challenges are nothing but fodder for creativity here.
The Real Cost of a State-of-the-Art Press
We asked Mr. Shivakumar whether there are benefits to this focus on investing in the best technologies available. “I am often called a fool by the print fraternity here in Bangalore for buying the latest, feature-filled equipment. But they are silenced once they see the jobs we deliver.” he replies. “Our print jobs are of high precision and excellent finishing. We consciously work at removing manual interventions that cause errors. But it’s not just about the quality. Look at the other benefits we get. We deliver print jobs faster, and that’s a key requirement of all customers. It’s guaranteed delivery.” says Mr. Shivakumar.
He adds, “We get access to features that our competitors don’t have on their equipment. For instance, the wrapper on the Eurobind allows feeds of large paper sizes. And we use far less glue on book binding.”
“Heidelberg machines are operator friendly, so there’s less time devoted in training or monitoring the teams.” he says. “We are a team of 25 people and are able to manage the press well mostly because of our upgraded technologies and machines,” he adds.
Having these machines have resulted in significant cost savings in terms of manpower. “We used to have many people before the Stahlfolder came in, now we don’t. After the Polar machines came in, we have been able to reduce the manpower needed for cutting by 3-4 people and so is the case with the Eurobind” he adds. In an industry that sees rampant price undercutting to get print jobs, Jwalamukhi commands its own price.
“Quality comes for a price, and that is not negotiable. Customers who understand and want ‘quality’ come to us. We have had instances when our customers have gone to other presses that offered cheaper rates. But they came back to us, because they did not get the quality of printing and level of customer service that we provide,” says Mr. Shankar.
Jwalamukhi offers complete solutions, from copywriting, photography, and editing to all print activities and seeing a healthy growth of 10% year on year. They largely cater to commercial printing. Much of their work comes from educational institutions, research journals, and large enterprises. About 10-12% of their revenue comes from exports. The next move is into packaging as well as exploring digital printing as well.
Talks of tough economic times do not deter Mr. Shivakumar. “Bangalore is a city with high potential for high quality printing. For example, there are very few printers in Bangalore who can do a printing with coating job on recycled paper. But there is a demand for such jobs. If you have invested in great equipment, you are ready for the most challenging jobs that are there.” he says.
It’s not just the market he keeps in mind when it comes to high quality printing. The company benchmarks itself against global print award winners, and aspires to be at par with them. Jwalamukhi is on a continuous path of learning, improving and upgrading by leveraging the best of technologies.