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Step by step approach to earn INCQC membership

Step by step approach to earn INCQC membership

Jaiganesh M's picture

What does it take to win a membership of the International Newspaper Color Quality Club?. The Mathrubhumi, an Indian vernacular newspaper, is in a great position to provide guidelines, having won two club memberships in their very first attempt in 2014-16. PT Bhasi, GM - Production and Maintenance, presented a case study at the WAN-IFR A Conference, 2-4, September 2015. In his presentation, outlining the paper’s step-by-step approach to the competition, Bhasi said “We started our preparations eight months before the competition. That gave us ample time to look at all areas of colour reproduction and improve it.”

Step 1: Understand INCQC rules and regulations

Before the start of the competition, it is important to understand each and every word of the instructions, especially the timeline of the competition and the way points are calculated, Bhasi said. He drew the attention of the participants at the conference to one particular component of the instructions, called “Success Table.” “It shows how many points you have to score in each criteria to win the club membership,” he said, adding that another way of looking at it, is to calculate how many points a participant can afford to lose in each criteria. “Then, an analysis of our strengths and weak areas will tell us exactly where we should focus,” he explained.

Step 2: Get a basic idea of colour management

Usage of the right ICC profiles is important for good colour reproduction. It is essential to know what profiles to use and where to use them. “For the first two steps, we took the support of WAN-IFRA and organised a training session for our key staff, who were involved in the INCQC project,” Bhasi said.

Step 3: Improve pre-press picture quality

Picture quality is important to score points in the General Print Quality (GPQ) evaluation. “One area of weakness we noted was that the Obituary pictures that we publish are always of poor quality. We can do nothing to improve it as the originals that we get from clients are poor and we cannot bother them to provide better originals,” Bhasi said. He told the audience that in many cases, clients asked them to use the same bad pictures for anniversaries. They converted that into an opportunity. “Our Ad department contacted all the advertisers and asked them to give better originals for anniversary photographs,” he said. The Mathrubhumi’s core INCQC team also worked closely with editors to ensure that no bad quality originals were selected during the competition period. “We also worked with designers to make sure that photographs are not placed in newspaper folds and behind the WAN-IFR A cuboid,” he said.

Step 4: Press inventory standardisation

The competition required brighter shades of paper to be used during the test runs. Since preparations began well ahead of time, they did not want to procure brighter newsprint for the sake of the competition and store it for more than a year. What they did was test all the newsprint that was routinely used, and the best brand of them all was
chosen. They also worked closely with suppliers to get ISO 12647-3 compliant ink.

Step 5: Standardising measuring instruments

There is always a possibility that different brands of instruments measure differently. At Mathrubhumi, different brands of densitometers are used at different branches. To overcome this problem, the newspaper procured an X-rite eXact (the instrument that WAN-IFR A uses for the CQC competition) and did an inter-instrument agreement study (to determine the differences between equipment). Because they began the preparations well ahead of the competition dates, they were able to assess the differences and take corrective action.

Step 6: Pre-press and press calibration

Dot gain calibration was done with the help of the “Actual and Intended Press” curve method in Harlequin RIP. First, the right ink density for the paper and ink combination had to be found, and then used to achieve the right dot gain.

Step 7: Form a team

“We selected a team from the pre-press and press side,” Bhasi said. Skills were identified, and the team was accordingly split into groups. The members divided up the responsibilities and each mastered his role. Proper usage of colour profiles, instruments and raw materials was ensured. As the final touch, a leader was selected to coordinate the whole set of activities.

Step 8: Simulate the competition

Simulated competitions were organised towards the end of the preparation period. Each team was mandated to ensure proper working patterns. Repeated simulation exercises were conducted to make sure all team work proceeded smoothly and in co-ordination.

Step 9: Actual competition

At the actual competition, “everything went as planned and both our printing plants won club membership,” Bhasi concluded proudly.

PT Bhasi is in charge of Corporate Responsibility of Production and Maintenance functions of all Press and Post-Press equipment and activities. He played the lead role in setting up plants in 10 production centres in the Indian state of Kerala where Mathrubhumi has its base. He was also instrumental in procuring state-of-the-art press and post-press equipment for the paper.