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Printmann: Looking through the pharma prism

23 March 2015

Clear-sighted strategies and sound investments have made Printmann a force to be reckoned with. Rushikesh Aravkar and Anand Srinivasan visit the company’s Navi Mumbai plant and are impressed

mainimage (l-r) Team Printmann: Tejas Tanna, Bipin Tanna and Ankit Tanna
At first glance, Printmann Group’s trajectory from a boutique commercial operation in Lower Parel’s Adhyaru Industrial Estate to a pharma packaging all-rounder will take you by surprise. However, once you hear Bipin Tanna, managing director, Printmann talk about broadening the outlook to new horizons, it begins to make sense. 
 
To start with, the company, which clocked Rs 70-crore turnover in FY 2013-14, has a history of diversification and making strategic investments. Only recently, Printmann invested in two G&K Vijuk’s GUK FA53 outsert lines, one in 2013 and the other late last year.
 
As we enter the company’s three-storey plant in Navi Mumbai during a recent visit, we witness the new firepower sit side by side with three other folding machines, one GUK, installed in 2008, and two Herzog + Heymann machines, taking the tally to five folding machines.
 

The Tanna brothers with the newly acquired G&K Vijuk’s GUK FA53 outsert line

 
“This has boosted our outsert production capacity up to five lakh outserts per day,” says Tejas Tanna, one of the directors, who heads production and marketing at the firm. Tejas is supported by his younger brother Ankit. Their father, Bipin Tanna, provides strategic guidance.
 
Robust and updated facility
Speaking of outserts, earlier, the production was confined to a single player in India, as it was a patented technology, before Printmann cracked it. “With a detailed study of patent, and with the help of our IPR consultant, we were successful in finding a way to produce outserts without infringing the patent,” says Bipin.
 
As opposed to an insert, an outsert is a multi-folded instruction sheet applied to the outside of a bottle or carton of a pharmaceutical product. The final fold is fastened by glue, which is a patented technolgy or by tape.
 
Factfile
Established 1987
Specialty Cartons, labels and outserts for pharma 
Location Mumbai and Navi Mumbai
Clients Cipla, Glenmark, Intas, Mylan Laboratories, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Sandoz and Zydus Cadila among others
 
Printmann got its first GUK 12-fold folding machine in 2008. “It was modified so that the patent was not infringed. We started doing outserts with tape instead of glue,” he says. The company later added two Herzog + Heymann 14- and 16-fold machines. “Today, after GUK-Vijuk collaboration, the two new 18-fold machines are fully equipped. They enable us to do glued outserts as well,” he adds.
 
Besides this, Printmann has procured two Komori 20x28-inch perfectors in the last two years. Being a Mitsubishi loyalist, with five Mitsubishi offset presses – three 28x40-inch size and two 20x29-inch size – plus two full-size Mitsubishi perfectors, the decision to invest in Komori was surprising. “We decided to invest in Komori just to get the size advantage. Perhaps, it is only Komori that manufactures these small-sized perfectors. Hence the decision,” explains Ankit.
 
In addition, in the last three years, Printmann has made substantial investments in its carton division. This includes two Bobst Novacuts and a Bobst Expertfold with Accubraille. “We were the second firm in India to house the Expertfold with Accubraille, and the first with the 16-gun Baumer HHS (Hans Henning Sasse) gluing system. This helps us do multiple pasting operations inline,” adds Tanna.
 
This enables Printmann to produce complex carton designs such as honeycomb partitions with inline pasting. Even today, there are only two to three players in India who can do it, claims Tanna.
Printmann has been experiencing a double-digit growth consistently since the last five years. “The last few months have been erratic,” says Tanna. He attributes this to macroeconomic factors. “When I say the market is erratic, it means jobs in the pipeline have reduced in number. Even in such a scenario, we have enough work to keep our capacities running at optimum levels” he adds.
 

The six-colour plus coater Mitsubishi press
 
Bold investments
Investments have always been central to the firm’s strategy. This is true for all the three lines of offering – leaflets, cartons and labels.
 
Printmann diversified into labels in 2007. The decision was driven by customer demand. While two of their clients backed Printmann in the process, the company did it in a different way. It bought a combination press, full rotary with five offset units, two flexo units and an inline cold foiling station. “This was the first Rotatek in Asia. We had mastered the offset technology and when we saw the Rotatek, we were impressed with the quality of vignettes and halftone images it produced. Flexo was yet to reach that level,” says Tejas.
 
After the initial struggle, Printmann was finally able to convince its customers to procure offset printed labels. So much so that in 2010, it invested in another Rotatek, this time a semi-rotary Brava, again first in Asia.
 
These investments were the results of planning and strategy. “If you are into label printing, you must have an inspection system as well,” says Tejas. “Earlier, label inspection was carried out either with a stroboscope or with an offline system, which was camera-based but worked only in one direction. In case of a defect, the operator was supposed to replace the label, but the system did not check it again,” explains Tejas.
 
That is when Printmann came across an inspection system manufactured by ABG, wherein the printed label roll went back and forth under camera until a right label was replaced a defective one. “We invested in the ABG Flytec 2000. It was an expensive investment. However, it made sure that every single label from Printmann’s factory was defect-free. We were new in the market, therefore and a single mistake would have caused a huge loss,” he added.
 
The company has now ordered a Flytec 3010.
 
Starting from the scratch 
When he forayed into print business by setting up a commercial unit in 1987, the senior Tanna was “the black sheep” in a family of doctors. He, however, had the foresight to figure out what will work in the future. Consequently, the next step was to enter into packaging.
 
“We started printing cartons for pharmaceutical companies in the early nineties when commercial printing was still flourishing,” Bipin says, adding that Printmann has always been an early mover. And, this has paid dividends. 
 
In 1994, the company took over Veekay Graphics in Thane and converted the 18,000 sq/ft facility into a full-fledged packaging unit. The Lower Parel unit handled both commercial and packaging jobs.
 
As the company grew, and as it started specialising in the pharma segment, expansion became a necessity. It was then the company shifted the Veekay Graphics unit to its current location in Navi Mumbai, in a sprawling 51,000 sq/ft area, in 2004.
 
Today, the company caters to all kinds of secondary packaging requirements – inserts, outserts, cartons, labels – of top pharmaceutical companies. “While the Navi Mumbai facility is completely dedicated to pharma packaging, the Lower Parel unit, with a 15,000 sq/ft area, caters to commercial printing and packaging in the ratio of 30:70,” says Bipin.
 

Printmann packaging arsenal has two Novacuts 
 
In the family 
For a family-owned business, succession planning can be an onerous  prospect. But, not with the Printmann Group, where the 59-year-old Bipin Tanna has passed the baton to his sons. This succession plan dates back to 2000, when Tejas had just completed his schooling and Ankit was in the ninth grade. “Father asked if we were interested in joining the family business. He said he would invest further in the company only if we were interested in the business. This was before we acquired the land in Navi Mumbai,” Ankit reminisces. Tejas adds, “I remember visiting our plant as part of our summer internship. I have been hovering around print my entire life. So, of course, it had to be a yes.” 
 
Before joining the business, however, Tejas did a three-year diploma course in printing technology at the Maharashtra Institute of Printing Technology, Pune and then spent four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, studying BS in printing. He also did an F-MBA from NMIMS.
The younger brother opted for finance. “Since Tejas took up the technical side, I had to study finance. I completed BMS from HR College and MSc in finance from the University of Manchester before joining the business in 2010,” Ankit adds.
 
Eyeing FMCG and food packaging
Printmann is PS 9000 certified. This means it has been audited and approved to supply secondary packaging materials into the regulatory pharmaceutical markets. 
Printmann also boasts of BRC/IoP certification. “The British Retail Consortium (BRC) together with the Institute of Packaging (IoP) created the BRC/IoP Global Standard in the manufacturing of converted packaging used in food packaging,” Tejas explains. “With this certification, we are ready to approach any FMCG and food company. This is required in terms of hygiene and safety. In any case, a secondary packaging material for pharma can become a primary packaging material for food products.”

All set to drive into FMCG and food packaging, Tanna has reserved space in the current facility for a new offset press. This new investment, along with value addition kit, will be made in the next financial year, said Ankit, as we culminate our four-hour factory tour. 
 
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