Mumbai-based Condot Systems entered into a partnership with Sweden’s Mathews Swedot in February this year, and since has notched up 25 installations of the Mathews systems.
Condot specialises in providing solutions for marking and batch coading, variable data printing, transport systems and vision systems. Condot has around 12,000 installations in India. It also serves the Middle East, Africa and Far East, taking the total numbers to around 40,000 installations.
Mathews International is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania headquartered company with 10,000 employees. Mathew International acquired Swedot, a Sweden-based company in 1990. Mathew also has a company in China, specialising in marking systems. A total of 700 people are employed in the marking division.
Mathew has three divisions, two of which are – graphical and marking division. The graphical division specialises in design of consumer products like display and labels for brands. The graphical division has operations in India, with a unit in Chennai.
Mathews Swedot, which specialises in marking systems, offers end of the line packaging solution.
“The graphic division to a certain extent is together with Mathew Marking, because both have the same type of customers profile,” says Lars Rosang, managing director at Mathews Swedot. “Mathews Swedot designs and develops products and then use sub-contractors to produce different kinds of solutions.”
Rosang says, “We work with independent distributors like Condot, which also sell other products in the marking and coding areas.”
Condot on the other hand has installations in the VDP and security segment, using HP printheads, but there have been certain constraints while deploying these printheads on certain substrates, says Vijay Kamat, general manager for Condot Systems. “We will bring Mathews technology into this VDP and security segment as well.”
Condot as a system developer has entered into the packaging market, including flexo. “We want to differentiate segments under printing, for example, if we need certain solutions for printing on plastics or varnishes, then we have these available from Mathews.”
From the packaging point of view, Condot has worked with most of the packaging printers for requirements for FMCG and pharma packaging products. “For example, Parksons Packaging and TCPL, are using our system to print certain elements on the cartons at their Chakan and Silvassa plants respectively. From a pharma perspective, leading Indian global players like Sun Pharma, Cipla, Lupin, etc, already have our printers on their packing lines. We hope to integrate Mathews in our systems and provide a solution,” says Kamat.
Kamat: "Many more regulations are driving the marking and coding growth"
The marking specialist has a market presence in the industrial field – 15% worldwide and less than 1% in India.
Rosang explains, “Our small presence in India can be attributed to the fact that we could not find the right partner.”
For years, Mathews had been strong in the industrial, but not so much in the food and packaging side even when the marking and coding in the food packaging offered big volumes because of the various regulations. “Some eight years ago, we decided that we need to expand into the food segment as well. That’s how we started with Funai printheads.”
Funai is a printhead manufacturer, and Mathews has built a product around this printhead, which Mathews claim can print on primary as well as the secondary packaging.
Rosang says, what is unique with our systems is that the software we have developed in our controller can drive different kinds of technologies. We can even drive competitor products. “Now you have a controller that can actually control the whole production.”
Inkjet in marking
Mathews manufactures printers for barcode and shipping labels using inkjet technology. “It was easy and could directly print on the products or packaging. But it was not a popular option because the inkjet quality was not so good,”says Rosang.
Five years ago, Mathews built a barcode printing system that could print directly on the products or packaging, thereby eliminating the need for labels. It also met the GS1 standard (GS1 is a global standards organisation allocating identification keys for barcodes). Rosang says, “You don’t need to stick labels, hence there’s almost 90% savings.”
Rosang explains how the system works, “All inkjet systems have printheads, that sprays ink, creating the message. Then it has an inking system and a controller, or what is known as an industrial type of PC, where you create smaller size messages to be printed. These are suitable for coding or marking on packaged food products, for example best before or expiry details.” The systems here employ the Funai printhead, Mathew’s inking system and the controller, which is software driven.
Rosang says, Mathews’ssolutions are an alternative to printed labels. Mathews manufactures everything from marking and coding inkjet products, from manufacturing systems for printing very small text for primary packaging, inkjet products for secondary packaging, which is typically using inkjet printers to print all the text and graphics directly on to the packaging.”
The inkjet printers using systems for industrial products like bags, paper or plastic packaging used for transporting or storing sugar, grain, cement, etc create larger drops. These systems can also be used in the building industry for gypsom boards, aluminium profiles, rooftiles, insulation material, plus the steel industry. “The text needs to be printed in a larger character because they need to be read as well as tracked, hence the bigger drop. The industrial segment is a very large segment for us,” says Rosang.
For the industrial solution, Mathews develops all three - the printhead, the inking system and the controller. However, it can also employ the Funai printhead for industrial systems.
Marking industry trends
When you automate the production, you want the controller to talk to the ERP system to avoid the operator from entering the wrong message on the packaging.
“That is why, the latest version of software in the controller has a very good communication capabilities so that it can talk to any ERP system or any other production system that the end-user is using,” says Rosang.
The trend is also to use touch panel, which has to be intuitive and easy to operate. Rosang says, “Our controller has such options.”
Besides, Mathews has IT professionals working on the software and an R&D centre which develops and manufactures inking systems and different kinds of inks. “If I have to be printing on plastic bottles, I can’t use the same ink that it used to print on plastics. The controller manages this as well.”
In terms of growth of marking and coding system, it’s been growing at 15-20% per annum, except for the last year, when it was 8%, says Kamat.
For Condot, Mathews offers four target verticals – pharma, printing and packaging, industrial applications and software for driving production lines.
The growth for coding and marking, for example, in the pharma division is emerging from the new regulations. Pharma is one of the largest export markets in India. It is a hub for generic medicine development and export. There are regulations that have to be followed by the Indian pharma companies to the exporting countries.
Kamat explains, “There are new regulations being introduced in the pharma every now and then. For example, now every exported package should have print a barcode. Last year this was not compulsory. It has to be a variable barcode, so that the pharma pack is traced wherever it goes. It is basically an anti-counterfeiting measures. Many more regulations are driving the marking and coding growth.”
Condot hopes to cash on the expertise of Mathews. Its strategy is to continue to do business with other partners, as well as build a different vertical with the Mathews solutions. “With the Mathews partnership we can overcome limitations with certain applications. We think our product line is now complete.”
Rosang shares Kamat’s optimism. “We view the Indian market as one of the most exciting markets in the future. One, is its 1.3-bn population and two, it’s a fast developing country, very similar to what China has been to us.”
Mathews has its business in China, which came after it acquired a local company in 2006. The company was also Mathew’s business partner. “It’s been a huge success. I, therefore, view India as interesting as China, and going into the future, a great potential.”
Kamat adds, “Mathews presence was very limited in India, but for us, it is building a new business, both for us as well as Mathews. They have a 15% market share worldwide, so we are, therefore, confident that we will be able to touch that number in India.”