Print specialty focussed MMS roundtable discussions - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

By 05 Apr 2019

On 2 March 2019 the MMS hosted a Power Lunch session. The interactions between eight business leaders in eight different groups were centred as much on applications as they were on the hardware that produces it.

In this Sunday Column, PrintWeek India reports few of these conversations

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How to make labels special, and business profitable 

The roundtable on Labels #Speciality began on the note as to how the label business could be much better, labels more special, if deployed on different technologies.

Consider this: The per capita consumption of labels in Japan is 92 sqm, Denmark is 85 sqm, other European countries 44 sqm or more, and India was just 0.25 sqm.
Japan has 2,000 odd label printers, mostly using intermittent letterpresses, while many in the European countries are either a combination of flexo and/or digital or fully digital, depending on the kind of business they do.

Five years ago, packaging pre-press specialist Trigon Digital Solutions purchased a digital label kit from Epson, more as a proofing solution. “The market was conventional, and we used to produce few short-run jobs for converters,” said Milind Deshpande, director at Trigon.

Trigon installed an HP Indigo WS 6000 in 2017 before replacing it with the latest HP Indigo WS 6900, late last year, the kit capable of printing metallic and invisible images. “It has made our endeavour of becoming a one-stop solution provider for brands complete,” Deshpande said, adding “The market in the last couple of years has changed – there are more short-run jobs, promotional requirement, consumer test jobs, plus labels with variable data printing. In that sense, the e-Commerce too has enhanced the way labels are being printed – labels are supplied on-demand, personalised. We engage with Cadbury, to deliver labels for their products, which are bought online.”

What is short-run in labels?
It is around 400-500 running metres, most of the participants in the group agreed.

Tejas Tanna, director at Printmann said, 30% of his business is short runs. Most of the sizes are similar. “We plan the short runs in such a way that the dies are same,  the colour schemes are close and if there are a couple of different colours, we colour match to the closest value.  We reduce our makeready times, to reduce the production cost.”

Every client, be it FMCG brands or pharma companies, is unforgiving when it comes to colours uniformly. They want print consistency in all SKUs. “In pharma, there are two challenges. One is a substrate. The brand specifies the substrate and you cannot tamper with that.  The second is the Pantone shade. Today, the clients are checking the delta values and one has to be precise with the colour and uniformity. Hence, printing a few test runs on digital and then switching to flexo, can be a problem.”

Digital – services existing client
Vivek Kapoor, managing director at Creative Labels began his business with an intermittent letterpress, before moving to flexo.

Today, when brands who are our regular customers, demand short-run jobs of 500-1,000 metres, which he produces using the intermittent letterpress because the plate cost is less and he can afford to service his client. “I have to produce it cost-effectively because I will be paid the same cost for the sqm of the label as I produce for their long-run jobs.”

However, Kapoor felt that going ahead, digital will be the future, but it has to be a separate entity. “If it becomes part of the same entity, it may not become a profit centre, but a service centre just to retain that long-run client.” He went a step further and said, “If there’s a technology that will ease out the pressure on the flexo, which is meant for longer runs, any technology is acceptable – whether or not one wants that additional expenditure to be profitable, is that players option.”

Flexo, digital or hybrid presses?
Flexo allows the flexibility of producing a saleable label in one pass. The entire capital investment on an online flexo press will be far cheaper than the pre- and post-press attachment to a digital press if one has to do long-run jobs.

For short-run digital, where the quantities are very low, you now have laser die-cutting solutions allowing online post-press capabilities, but the speeds are very low.

Kapoor said his company adopted flexo technology after intermittent. It will only be a natural extension of adopting digital after flexo for his company, he said. “The trigger will be: reduction in the variable cost of producing labels, and when my clients’ requirement for digital print will exceed that I produce on flexo.”

This brought hybrid presses into focus. Every flexo press manufacturer is building presses which with both digital and flexo print heads. These presses can also add screen unit, either rotary or flatbed and even gravure for those wanting it.

“They all understand that the line of business for label manufacturers will change, and these manufacturers have to be prepared with the technology,” said Kapoor.

At the moment, the cost of the machines that these manufacturers are high, that’s because it’s a new development. One of the advantages as far as the cost of the machine is concerned that the digital heads on these hybrid presses are inkjet. This will perhaps make the hybrid presses cheaper going forward.

Tanna said hybrid presses could be an answer to many of the label applications that one wants to produce, with a screen unit as a must.

“I think as far as incorporating of hybrid presses in the business, rather than the clients driving it, we as label printers have to drive it. For example, we will have to produce embellishment or decoration prints, which will be acceptable to the market. We can then profitably run our requirements on the hybrid presses,” said Tanna.

Create a need in the market by setting up a profit-based idea

The roundtable with Amit Shah of Spectrum Scan as a print expert and industry experts Rafiq Shaikh of Esko and Paritosh Panda of Arrow Digital focussed on developments and challenges in the POS industry. Other delegates at the discussion were Amit De of Planet Design, Nabeel Khan of Brandmark Solutions, Sudhir Phadke of SuAn Digital Images and Rahul Kulkarni of Ram Graphics.

Amit Shah spearheaded the session by highlighting the growth potential of POS, POP market holds in the Indian market. Shah said,  “Create a need in the market. The existing demands will only help you run the business. Create a need by setting up an idea which is profit-based, will ensure your company to grow and not just to run it.”

The session also saw the significance of having a demo centre by the machine manufacturers. Arrow Digital’s demo centre in Ahemadabad has every machine under its portfolio. Paritosh Panda of Arrow assured the roundtable that all the machines sold by Arrow are available at the demo centre in working condition.

At Esko’s demo centre in Mumbai, it allows the customers to do short-run jobs of up to 10-15 units depending on the availability of the operator. Also, Esko has launched a new web portal ArtiosCAD.net. A global platform to buy and sell CAD designs. Rafiq Shaikh of Esko said, "An Indian printer/ designer can upload his unique design to the web portal’s library and the person buying the design can be from any part of the world. This is a huge platform for the Indian printing and packaging industry to get international exposure."

How do we retain our workforce – was one of the key points of discussion.  Delegates at the roundtable emphasised the steps taken by their company to create an inclusive environment for the workers. 

Rahul Kulkarni of Ram Graphics said, “To ensure that my employees are up to date with the technology and trends, I always take them to knowledge seminars and exhibitions.” 

Amit Shah said, “On an average, an employee stays with the Spectrum Scan for 12+ years and has 30% women strength of the total workforce. A women employee, who first used to do packing work, now runs a screen printing machine with three employees working under her.” 

Nabeel Khan of Brandmark narrated his instance where the employee opted to leave the company but after his consultation with the employee, the company gave her three-month leave which was required and retained her job. 

The outcome from the discussion was motivation, inclusiveness and trust among the employees are must to make sure the employees stay with the company.

Luxury is like quality, and what is luxury and quality is entirely in the customer’s mind

The table number four of the Power Lunch at the MMS Roundtable (third edition), focused on the topic ‘Luxury packaging – innovation’.

The print expert for this table was Harsha Paruchuri of Pragati Offset and the industry expert was Abhijeet Kolhatkar of Provin Technos.

Gobind Punjabi of Rukson Packaging, Manu Choudhury of CDC Printers, Rakesh Baradwaj of Sangeeta Poly Pack, Raju Kutty of Purandara Sales Agencies, Rahoul Wadekar of Indigo Press, Medha Virkar of Kaleido Graphics, and Subash Rai of Synthesis Communications, were the members for the discussion.

The two-hour long discussion shed light on various topics such as the current packaging trends, its sustainable alternatives, fundamentals of luxury packaging and also the new trends in the market.

Harsha Paruchuri of Pragati Offset, said, “Luxury is like quality, and what is luxury and quality is entirely in the customer’s mind. It can be a carton, label, rigid box or corrugated box, it’s all about the package when it comes into luxury.”

The conversations shed light on the market segments where luxury packaging has its footprint and its untouched market segments. “The FMCG segment that includes hair-care, skin care and is a very suitable segment for the luxury packaging market,” said Paruchuri.

The few key points of a luxury package are that firstly it has to provide a different feel while communicating with the customer, be it soft-touch feel, or a sense that gives you the impression and value of the brand. Secondly, it has to stand-out on the shelf, as it is a high value-added product.

According to Paruchuri, in a general scenario, if the cost of packaging is anywhere between 1-5% of the sale price, then in the case of luxury packaging there might come a situation that the price of packaging will be more than that of the product cost. For instance, in the packaging of perfumes, the glass bottle and the carton is more expensive than the perfume itself.

So, luxury is not just restricted to implementations of a different technology or a cost per piece, it has more to it. There is no given fact that luxury packaging has to be expensive, a rigid box may be more expensive from a luxury package, and it all depends on the design.

Talking about the impact of plastic ban on packaging formats, Paruchuri said, “One thing is definitely clear is when you laminate film to paper, you’re making a composite material which is neither paper nor plastic, plastic can go into a recycling process, paper can get re-pulped, but when you have a composite material, it’s not as easy, to treat it.”

PVC is still being used as an inner coating for ice-cream cups and other food-based applications, and the topic came to a conclusion that the plastic ban should be more stringent and at the same time have a more logical approach in banning the recyclable and re-usable plastics.

Speaking about the alternatives for PVC, the members agreed upon BOPP, PP and PET as a few good substitutes. Especially, the virgin-grade PP granules used for the manufacturing are entirely food-grade.

In addition to it, PE coated boards are available in the market, which is a great alternative, But, a key point was clarified that PE is not safe for packaging of high-temperature products such as coffee, and is only apt for the packaging application of products such as cold drinks and ice-cream.

According to the Paruchuri hot foil stamping is coming back to the market, “Given today’s day and age, there is nothing as inexpensive as metPET to produce the kind of metallic look that you want.”

In comparison to cold foil with metPET, cold is 5-6 times higher than that of metPET and new technology which enables a direct transfer of metallic properties to the substrates is two and a half time times costlier.

Explaining about the direct transfer technology, Paruchuri said, “Instead of laminating the whole film, just transferring the metal particles on the board and then taking the plastic out and printing on top, the costing is still not conducive. Obviously, this scuff resistance is much lesser because you have here you just have paper, wherein the case of metPET you have paper then plastic film. But, in this process, you need to have proper vanishes.”

This direct transfer process can reduce the dependability on metPET and also, people prefer this type of finish as it gives a simple glass-type look.

Talking about lenticular printing, Paruchuri, lenticular printing is all about the registration sheeting and lamination, and it should be maximum off by half mm, as achieving the exact print measurement is a bit difficult.

“I have seen boxes which is 2mm off, which is not doing enough justice with this beautiful technology. A major reason for this is that very few lenticular printing based machines are camera based,” said Paruchuri.

Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenticular lenses are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles.

Explaining about this printing process, Paruchuri, said, “The lens is basically a hologram which is created on a metPET and it is laminated onto a board, which is then printed in registration with the film, the printing has to be carried out exactly on top of that.”

He also, shared that lenticular printing requires precision in cutting of sheets and the entire process results in close to 30 per cent wastage in many cases, which is a huge number. Also, it is an expensive job to take-over and be perfectly implemented. “For the hologram to show up you need 25-36 microns, metPET is 10-12 microns, so as you can see the cost is three times more if calculated per kg.”

The eight roundtable discussions: 

Digital – Value addition
Print expert:
Dwhanil Shah of Manifold Graphics
Vendor expert: Navdeep, Konica Minolta
Delegates: Mehernosh Pithawala, HJ Commercial; Ashutosh Agarwal, Poornima Printers; Rupesh Sawant, Superlekha; Shekhar Joshi, United Printers; Suhas Mulam, National Print Press; Bimal Mehta, Vakil and Sons; Siddhesh Brid, Rajesh Printouch .

Books and catalogues -Next Level
Print expert: G Venugopal of Sterling Print House 
Vendor expert: Sajith Pallippuram of Impel-Welbound
Delegates: Kamlesh Dhargalkar, Hi-Tec Printers; Rajan Phadke, Rajmudra; Pratik Vaza, Dhote Offset Technokrafts, Devdatta Deshpande, Avirat Printing; Kewal Karia, Jayraj Fine Paper; Shree Virkar, Kaleido Graphics; Manish, Reva Printery.

Bags - Eco-friendly
Vendor Expert: Rohit Rajpal of Zhongke India
Delegates: Nilesh Sawant, Vihan Prints; Mukul Kulkarni, Gourang Paper; Rajesh Brid, Rajesh Printouch; Dhruv Shetty, Uday Multimedia; Vishwanath Shetty of Print Works; Rahul Jain, Akar; Pawan Poddar, Essence Ecocrafts.

Retrofit - Old Machines New Ways
Print expert: Ved Dhote of Vibgor Prints
Vendor expert: Akshay Kaushal of Provin Technos
Delegates: Sanjay Nagrani, Sanjay Art; Vinay Holkar, New Rajkamal; Ankit Salian, Amita Art; Kishore Gorkhe, Arty Prints, Latur; Vilas Sangurdekar, Perfect Prints; Ankit Agarwal.

Digital – Inkjet
Print expert: Ketan Mehta of Repro Scan
Vendor expert: Vijay Kamat of Konica Minolta
Delegates: Jigar Satra, Reliable Xerox; Anil Verma, Hash one tech; Praful Dhargalkar, Hi Tec Printers; Pravin Patel, Hira Prints; Devendra Ambekar, Nikeda; Nitin Wani, Smart Solutions; Shailesh Sharma, Induss; Sanjay Bamne, SAP Print Solutions, Tushar Dhote of Dhote Offset Technokrafts.

Luxury Packaging
Print Expert: 
Harsha Paruchuri of Pragati Offset
Vendor Expert: Abhijeet Kolhatkar of Provin Technos
Delegates: Gobind Punjabi of Rukson Packaging, Manu Choudhury of CDC Printers, Rakesh Baradwaj of Sangeeta Poly Pack, Raju Kutty of Purandara Sales Agencies, Rahoul Wadekar of Indigo Press, Medha Virkar of Kaleido Graphics, Subash Rai of Synthesis Communications

Labels (Speciality)
Print Expert: Milind Deshpande of Trigon Digital Solutions            
Vendor Expert: Umesh Kagade of Hewlett Packard India
Delegates: Vinit Chajed, Sanjay Gaitonde of Procam, Vivek Kapoor of Creative Labels, Ashutosh Sakhalkar of Trigon Digital solutions, Mandar Joshi of Shree Ganesh Graphics, Rajiv Joshi of Mudra Graphics, Nandu Rangnekar of Priya Graphics, Sachin Chaudhary of Dot Branding          

POS
Print Expert: Amit Shah of Spectrum Scan           
Vendor Expert: Rafiq Shaikh of Esko and Paritosh Panda of Arrow Digital
Delegates: Amit De of Planet Design, Nabeel Khan of Brandmark Solutions, Sudhir Phadke of SuAn Digital Images and Rahul Kulkarni of Ram Graphics.


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