Kodak looking for newer opportunities in growing market of India


To investigate further scope and growth potential in the Indian graphic arts segment, Eastman Kodak Company’s president and COO Philip J Faraci made his first ever trip to India. Interacting closely with existing customers and media professionals was part of his mission to visit India. A brief. In an interactive open discussions with the media in New Delhi recently, the issues raised included: the scope and directions for inkjet market – possibilities of reduction in per copy print cost; very little adoption of VDP applications (other than transactional); CtP – where it stands as of now in developed vs developing markets; workflow and other software – need based but keeping affordability and finally the consumables involving plates for offset/flexo or media for signage segment. The management team members present from Kodak during the media roundtable included Steve Green, regional managing director, CDG and GCG, Asia Pacific region and vice president, Eastman Kodak Company; Ravi Karamcheti, managing director, Consumer Digital Group and Graphic Communications Group, Kodak India Private Limited, PN Raghuvir, vice president, Marketing, CDG and GCG, SGP head –Retail Printing, India Cluster, Kodak India Pvt Ltd, and Bhalchandra Nikumb, head-Sales and Channel Management, Graphic Communications Group, Kodak India Pvt Ltd.

Talking about the newer applications out of inkjet technologies, Philip did mention that their latest work horse – Prosper branded digital printing solutions provide both roll-fed press and inline hybrid imprinting. Well demonstrated and star of the show during IPEX 2010, Prosper 5000XL has been able to tap altogether new markets. The press using Kodak’s revolutionary ‘Stream’ inkjet technology is a production web press that offers full process colour perfecting with a print width of up to 24.5 inches or 62.23 cms at speeds up to 650 feet per minute or 200 meters per minute making it the most productive inkjet web press for 8-, 12- and 16-page signatures with a duty cycle of 120 million A4 pages a month.

The recent two successes include: the first one, Philippines’ general elections, where high volume customized application in the form of ballot papers and the second one with the prestigious newspaper from US –Chicago Tribune utilizing Prosper’s features which enable production of newspaper editions with targeted localized ads for approx fifty different editions, circulated in various cities. In the first case, the utilization of technology has perhaps been the best example to keep and follow the best governance practices whereas in the second instance the possibility to offer low cost marketing tools to comparatively small and medium enterprises in the form of localized and focused advertising with minimum wastage on advertising spends.

It is very clear that these types of specific applications can only be feasible with digital technologies. “Though some of these applications perhaps may not be performed independently as of now without being used with conventional printing processes, but do have its own unique USPs. ‘Stream’ inkjet technology followed by Kodak is a printing breakthrough that delivers offset class output plus the ability to perform high-speed variable-data printing. Longer run lengths while lowering costs with enormous features like high quality, fast speed, and substrate flexibility make it perhaps the sound technology for future,” added Philip.

Commenting on the business volume created so for by digital print processes, he informed that an approximate volume share comprising two trillion pages out of a total market of seventy trillion pages volume has been achieved. Answering to one of the questions pertaining to ROI, Philip did mention that for any forward looking enterprise, Kodak’s marketing tools enable substantial cost savings and helping effective improved ROI while accelerating delivery processes. Added features do include scalable and upgradeable technologies from Kodak providing a smoother transition towards growth areas all the time.

Status of CtP’s population as of today versus the future scope, Steve indicated that in the developed market, there has been a saturation level, but in the developing market, there exist a lot of opportunities. With countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa market potential is very high. The industry growth is estimated to be in two digit figures for the next few years. Then ‘why not manufacturing activity for CtP equipments or plates in growing market like India’ was an obvious question. Replying to this, Steve said, “Yes, we are evaluating the same. But having already a two manufacturing line set up for producing plates in Xiamen, China very recently, it might take a while in deciding on the same. Though we have no hesitation in making an investment in India and as a matter of fact, we have already started a plate packaging plant in Goa, where customized slitting and desired level of packaging activity is happening to meet the specific demands of our customers in India. We shall indeed be open to new ideas/plans for this growing market.”

Justifying the continuity with thermal technology, Steve conveyed that the exceptional features of technologies which actually help the printers to produce more stable images with high consistency level must be adhered to. Though speed of producing plates has been a concern, but nevertheless with passage of time Kodak has been able to offer upgraded version of CtP with higher speed very regularly. The GenerationNews system with production capacity of 300 plates per hr (pph) has opened the new doors of possibilities for newspaper markets. In some of the premier segments, thermal technology has always been a preferred choice.

Commenting on the acceptability of range of software offered by Kodak under their vast portfolio, Nikumb also enumerated the benefits, users have been achieving. Their recent stand alone ‘Insite’ software tools have got an encouraging response from customers. Kodak has plans to promote its unified workflow solutions in the Indian market, so as to offer a host of advantages to the printing industry customers.

Concluding the discussions, another interesting talk out of the meet came in the form of ‘education’ amongst Indian printing fraternity. Under this theme, Kodak India may plan to initiate some of the activities to motivate channels and customers in adopting newer technologies with confidence thereby enhancing not only overall image reproduction quality but profitability as well.

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