Future Schoolz prepares standards for Indian factories with Fogra partnership

Future Schoolz has become an official Process Standard Offset (PSO) Partner of Fogra from India. This Fogra PSO partner status will add further value to its ongoing activities. Kulakkada Pradeep, the CEO of Future Schoolz in conversation with Charmiane Alexander

21 Feb 2024 | By Charmiane Alexander

Kulakkada Pradeep, the CEO of Future Schoolz

Kulakkada Pradeep says, "This means Future Schoolz can now run audit and certification programs at printing companies for standardisation, complying with PSO (ISO 12647)"In the past couple of years, Future Schoolz has created a benchmark in print standardisation and reduction of wastages in printing and packaging industries in India.

Charmiane Alexander (CA): Congratulations! It’s quite an achievement and a proud moment for Future Schoolz to become the first Fogra PSO partner from India. First things first. What is Fogra?
Kulakkada Pradeep (KP):
Fogra is a globally respected institution that contributes to the advancement of technology and standards in the graphic arts industry, particularly in the realm of printing and media production. Its work has a broad impact on ensuring consistency, reliability, and quality in printed materials.

CA: Where do you come in?
One of their prime areas is standards and certification. Fogra develops and publishes industry standards that are used to ensure consistency and quality in print production. They are known for their expertise in colour management, proofing, and printing technology. Globally, companies in the printing industry often adhere to Fogra standards to achieve reliable and consistent results.

CA: So, is it the gold standard for the printing and packaging industry?

CA: You have been to Fogra and attended their training. What else does it do?
Besides research and standardisation in the printing and media production industry, Fogra conducts research projects to improve and advance technologies related to printing processes, colour management, and media production. It has 630+ research projects and published reports. 77% of its staff are researchers. It has been serving the print industry for the last 72 years. It works closely with the industry and even shares the office with BVDM - The Federal Association of Printing and Media is the umbrella association of the German printing and media industry. I believe Fogra knows the pulse of the print industry.

The Fogra institute in Aschheim

CA: You say, Fogra is actively involved in the development of standards for colour communication. What does this mean?
It means ensuring that colours are accurately reproduced across different devices and printing processes which is paramount. To ensure this, it is essential to follow standards from pre-press to press. By adopting research-backed SOP standards, the print community can achieve consistency. It is also important to have advanced level training, education, and international collaboration. Point is, it has a large influence on best industry practices across the globe.

CA: Coming to Fogra PSO partner, what exactly is your role?
Future Schoolz is the official Fogra PSO partner from India. To detail it out, the Partner of Fogra, provides support for the certification according to the Process Standard Offset (ISO 12647). This includes the support for execution of the certification test as well as possible consultancy in advance. Offsite evaluation of the test prints and issuance of the certificate is done by Fogra. Fogra takes the overall decision, whether the print shop passes the entire certification procedure.

CA: PSO and the ISO 12647 series of standards are indispensable tools for reliable colour print production.
Yes. The point is, to achieve the target values specified therein, it needs many things right. For example, a print factory needs the support of qualified specialists for achieving this. Future Schoolz has the knowhow and expertise to offer these services to Indian print and packaging firms. We are patient enough to walk them through this journey.

CA: Future Schoolz is also a member of standardisation bodies ICC, Ghent Workgroup, CIP4. Right?
Together with all their support and know-how, we provide integrated services for colour management, standardisation, pre-press excellence and quality improvements. Also we are members of the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industries Association. That's how we have access to the latest trends from across the globe.

CA: How is the awareness level about Fogra and its benefits in India?
In India, the awareness about Fogra and benefits of PSO is relatively low. This is the beginning of a journey to create awareness. Every pre-press operator uses Fogra profiles, knowingly or unknowingly what it is. We are hopeful that the Indian print industry will realise the importance of Fogra standards and shall make the best out of it.

CA: So what are the latest standards at Fogra?
Now the latest standards are Fogra 51 and Fogra 52. But a majority of pre-press operators follow the old standards Fogra 47 and 39. How to apply the latest standards and to get most of it remains in the zone of ignorance. The paper substrate is a critical factor in print quality, and other certifications are not considering the values of paper substrate. Fogra has redefined the paper substrates and has eight paper types with more practical realities added, by analysing the papers from the market. And so, we will support and serve the Indian printers to achieve Fogra certifications to make the most out of these standards on a daily basis. Officially we are an enabling agency for certifications and testing, apart from that we provide consulting to reach those standards.

CA: Does this hold true for a SME firm?
We promise to print entrepreneurs of all sizes and shapes, we can make your printing much better and on a lighter note, we can bring peace to a printing press!

CA: Is this do-able?
Current trends are pushing the printers and packaging producers to print world class printed materials. This is over and above meeting volume targets. Today the mantra is: stringent colour accuracy and consistency across – sheet to sheet and within sheet. A great challenge considering many things in India. Unless we place standardisation at the top, it is going to be difficult. As you are aware printers and converters from other countries achieve all this with consummate ease. For example, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam are much superior in terms of print quality. While print buyers from Europe, US and UK search for print production partners, they seek the standards and certifications. This is the best way for them to assess the standard of a press. So being a Fogra certified company can be the best foot forward for India.

CA: So Fogra standards are aimed at ensuring consistent and high-quality printing results. And following these standards will help India to gain a leadership position as quality print providers?
We can aspire to be the world’s print capital in true sense. Standardisation is the key. And that directly translates into reliability and trust which alone can boost the Indian print and packaging industry.

CA: More than we hear about ISO 12647, we often hear about PSO now. What about Fogra PSO certification for a printer?
Process Standard Offset (ISO 12647 ff) is a guide to creating optimal, stable and reliable print products. The PSO is in accordance with the international series of standards ISO 12647.

CA: What does it ensure?
Process Standard ensures a feasible nominal values and tolerances for print production which in turn ensures quality reproduction. It is more of a reliability on practising the science behind printing. From pre-press to final print product, PSO enables a qualitatively secured print production. The Fogra PSO standards have affordable certifications which are strict but achievable if your press follows scientific standards and what it requires to be a quality press environment. They put in place the right practices, if followed can definitely transform the press into the path of good profitability and high dependency. And being stricter with the certification criteria, Fogra helps the one to really stand out.

CA: What does all this mean for Indian printers?
It is a fact that in India, we like certificates, not certification! Either we are ignorant about the true benefits of the certification or don't have the patience to follow a scientific process. We are yet to come in terms with the truth that printing is true science.

CA: Is that just another feather in the Future Schoolz cap or is it going to change anything for them?
Future Schoolz wants to place the feather on the cap of aspiring printers in India, by transforming their process standards.

CA: How so? How will Fogra help companies to follow the scientific steps?
Yes, and the Fogra PSO Certification can put the printers on a high pedestal, where they will be able to shed lot of their day-to-day troubles at the press, about wastages, lost makeready time, delays in production and delivery, colour matching problems, consistency issues, customer quality complaints and many more problems that they face day to day. With Fogra they are going to produce scientifically to achieve target values across the spectrum. Each and every press team will become confident and relieved by knowing the process standards.

CA: So what you are saying is companies in India invest in top quality presses, materials and substrates, but do they get the quality and productivity these machines are capable of producing, since they compromise on the process. Correct?
This is where printers have to take a back seat, evaluate and introspect.

CA: Meaning?
The questions they should be asking are - is my process quality sufficient to maintain the best standards? What are the international standards that help me attain that? Here comes the relevance of Fogra PSO certification. Once they recognise this, it can lead to better profits.

(third from left) Kulakkada Pradeep with the Fogra team

CA: How can one apply for a PSO certification?
Quite simple, by contacting us. We will walk them through the prerequisites and the entire process of certification. On behalf of Fogra, we support them to achieve the certification testing. We provide consultancy services to enable them to the levels of these standards which is essential to a printing press. All the values and tolerances are achievable, even if it is not as easy as it is thought to be. A majority of Indian printers do not have the habit to follow the best practices in the long-term. But the adherence can lead to saving precious time, to increase productivity, consistent quality, trust from print buyers and brands, above all stress-free working for the employee and entrepreneur. Point is, you save a lot of cost, reduce materials, all these leads to profits, being competitive and being agile. In the ultimate analysis, you win customer trust.

CA: I am curious to know if there is a safety shield for printers and converters to save themselves from an ignorant customer who doesn’t understand the limitations of the process?
If the client makes a complaint, there is no doubt it is unpleasant. Many times this can turn out to be a disaster! Fogra, as an unbiased third party, can do a neutral assessment objectively and metrologically, whether the work is actually faulty or within tolerances. When a press adheres to the Fogra standards, this can be proved quite convincingly. With PSOactive, it is also possible to continuously get these assessment services and be safer to execute large volumes of higher stakes.

CA: How do you plan the Fogra PSO certification roll out in India?
We are excited that we are tapped by many quality and aspiring printing firms – large and medium sized. This includes firms which have export requirements or work with top brands. We will reach out to many-more aspiring printers and explain to them the benefits and process.

CA: Are brands keen?
Some brand owners are also keen. Precisely from pharma, alco-beverages, fashion, cosmetics. They suffer from quality lapses when they produce global packaging and collateral. Rejection rates are higher and cause disruptions in their manufacturing. We will work with all of them.

CA: India is a huge and complex territory. How are you equipped to support printers from across India?
We will on board more PSO professionals in order to ensure that printers get much better guidance in their factory site. Also we are ramping up our team so that we can cater to requests from any location in India. We are trustworthy and highly ethical, and our expertise is in the scientific and process part of printing. We believe this will add value. Also we are keen to work with OEMs to cultivate a culture of excellence in the print industry.

PSO certifications - At a glance

There are three certifications. PSO which is ISO 12647, PSO active and PSO basic. PSO basic is valid in India and China.

With PSO certification, printing companies ensure a smooth printing operation internally. Externally they can demonstrate their ability to produce high quality requirements in accordance with the accepted international standards. This means they can comply with the colour specifications of their customers.

It certifies four modules for a full-service printer that include: qualified colour management, proof creation, platemaking and print job make ready/ print run.

PSO active is a supplement service, printed sheets can be sent to Fogra for metrological testing and ensure quality at par on a regular basis.

PSO basic is an affordable certification, based on the same standards and target values or tolerances as PSO (ISO 12647), but follows a reduced scope of testing. PSObasic can be the first step to obtaining the PSO Certification.

Future Schoolz is going to promote this for the mid-sized printers in India. Fogra is for everyone irrespective of size, infrastructure or machineries that they possess. But small and medium printers can reap more benefits, as this is a window for them to jump onto the quality bandwagon and keep their head high.

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