During the pandemic, counterfeiters are having a field day, especially with the rise in demand for pharma goods. The recent counterfeiting of the Remdesivir drug vials risked the life of Covid-19 patients across India and threatened the business of genuine drug manufacturers. In this context, Noida-based Holostik India, which came into inception with the mission of authenticating supply chains to secure lives, is uniquely positioned to help manufacturers, and consumers with its anti-counterfeit packaging.
Holostik, which has secured products of more than 10,000 companies in over 90 countries, is among the few global companies to provide physical and digital security solutions under one roof. The company is also one of the largest manufacturers of security holograms globally.
“As an experienced brand protection solution provider, we are aware of the pros and cons of each technology. After understanding the supply chain and identifying the exact pain point of the brand, we create a customised solution by integrating technologies (physical and digital) to solve the problem faced by the brand. Also, to create a comprehensive solution, we incorporate overt, covert, forensic, and digital technologies as per ISO 22383:2020 in our solutions,” Ankit Gupta, director, Holostik India, says.
The company manufacturing and R&D facilities are located in Rudrapur (Uttarakhand), Noida, and Kolkata. “By establishing our production units across the length and breadth of India, we have ensured to cater our products and provide employment across diverse geographies,” he adds.
Life during pandemic
Gupta confesses that since the start of the pandemic last year, the company has faced many challenges in terms of manufacturing, sales, and logistics. “However, we were already on Microsoft Teams, CRMs, and other software-based platforms. So, we quickly adapted to work from home environment and aligned our organisational processes accordingly. We also got the required government approvals to run our production during the pandemic as we were providing security packaging solutions to companies manufacturing daily essential goods,” he explains.
Gupta is also proud to share that the company did not ask even a single person to leave, and did not deduct the salaries of anyone during the lockdown. “We had decided in April 2020 that during the pandemic we have to work towards supporting our employees rather than gaining profits. We also stood by our industry partners in these unprecedented times,” he says.
Since its inception, Holostik has received more than 50 prestigious awards for different achievements. It has also been felicitated with awards like D&B - Top SMEs of India, Industrial Innovation Award by CII, SME Elite 50 Award by ICICI Bank, Top 500 growing companies by Inc 500, Top 100 most innovative companies by Inc 100, Top 100 growing SMEs in India by India SME Forum, Small Enterprise India Business Award by Aspire Media, among others.
Anti-counterfeit packaging solutions
Holostik manufactures smart anticounterfeit packaging solutions, which include security OVDs (optically variable devices) or holograms, hot-stamping foils, revenue stamps QR code labels, security labels, 3D specialty labels, shrink sleeves, liners, holographic pouches, LD strips, holographic packaging films, UV embossed folding cartons, and digital supply chain solutions. “Our USP is the amalgamation of physical and digital layers of security into one product under one roof,” Gupta says.
Looking ahead, according to Gupta, digital printing will see a boom in the coming days as shorter runs and quick service is gradually becoming a need across different industries. He quotes industry reports, said, “The print label market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% over the forecast period (2021-2026). Moreover, the rapid rise of digital print technology has made the print labels market more sophisticated and increased the adoption of print labels globally. Additionally, digital printing enhanced the label possibilities of various end-user industries in label designs, which encouraged many companies to shift to digital printing.”
The company abides by the latest ISO standards 22383:2020 which classifies authentication elements as overt, covert, forensic, and digital. “We develop advanced anti-counterfeit features through rigorous R&D and sophisticated high-precision laser writing module, which makes it nearly impossible to replicate,” he says.
Holostik’s nano origination system is capable of direct writing as small as 40-nanometres. The optical features can include effects such as 3D visualisation, white colour or dead colour effect, motion, and other advanced security features in the OVD.
Gupta clarifies that due to the security nature of the business, a lot of security features the company deal in cannot be discussed on a public platform.
Meanwhile, the company’s packaging research team has developed a wide range of folding cartons made with UV embossed films. These cartons provide strong visibility to the product on the shelf and thus increase sales manifold. Moreover, the cartons can also include a variety of aesthetic and security effects that prevent counterfeiting and boost brand appeal.
Some of the company’s holographic security elements include scratch OVDs hide information, which the end-user can see only after scratching off the holographic image; films metalised with zinc sulphide, which make them look transparent; specialised top surface, which can be removed to see the hidden information at its back; de-metallisation, which is the removal of metallisation from some part/s either in the whole area or specific area/s to form security patterns or design enhancements in OVDs; and serialisation that can be done over any OVD in random, sequential, and variable numbering (alpha-numeric series) along with a printed 1D or 2D
The company’s non-holographic security elements include taggants that are uniquely encoded data-based chemicals or inks that generally consist of microscopic particles; talking pen device that reacts to encoded information embedded in the OVD; thermochromic ink that changes colour when temperature increases or decreases; security die-cuts that are intricate security patterns made through special die on OVDs; and mirror feature, which is a physical layer transferred on the OVD layer.
“As a brand protection solution provider our role is not just limited to securing companies from the menace of counterfeiting, but also safeguard human lives, prevent crime related to counterfeiting and most importantly help governments in the fight against fakes. Moreover, we deeply understand the pain point and supply chain functioning of our customers to give them the best solution,” Gupta asserts.
The company’s print production units are equipped with cutting-edge European machines. In pre-press, it has acquired the latest security and design software to integrate the right aesthetic and security elements in its labelling solutions. “We have presses with up to 12-colour printing capabilities. In the finishing equipment, we again have multiple automatic and laser die-cutting machines along with the best variable data inspection
machines,” Gupta says.
He adds that before buying a printing press machine, the company makes sure the machine meets the demands of what its customers truly need. “Our procurement and technical experts also make sure that the equipment aligns with our production line and the raw materials. It is a step-by-step process that is regularly monitored by the management,” he says.
Holostik believes that ‘Innovation is name of the game’. “Our R&D team is constantly making innovations in anti-counterfeit technology, packaging, and digital supply chain solutions. We invest a minimum of 5% of our annual budget on research and development. We also believe that it is the perfect combination of physical and digital layers of security which keeps counterfeiting at bay and improves the supply chain efficiency of an organisation,” he explains.
The company’s ‘Phygital’ solution is combination of physical and digital solutions to instantly authenticate the products and track and trace the supply chain to solve the problem of counterfeiting, tampering, adulteration, and diversion.
“We have end-to-end in-house capabilities for R&D, product design, manufacturing, and IT development which serves as a one-stop shop for customers. Our facilities are equipped with 24/7 electronic surveillance for confidentiality and security of client’s products. Our dedicated customer support works round the clock to give the best customer experience. Moreover, we have the technical capability to provide high-volume orders on time,” Gupta explains.
In label manufacturing, the company broadly provides filmic (polyethylene/ BOPP/ PET polypropylene), and paper substrates according to the needs of customers. The filmic substrates can be classified into clear on clear, PP white (opaque), PP clear (transparent), PP silver (silver metalised paper), PP matte (distinguished matte effect), PE white (opaque) and PE clear (transparent). Paper label substrates can be classified into chromo paper,
maplitho and UV dull paper.
Around 40% of the jobs are flexography-based, and 60% of jobs are foil and screen-based. Gupta says the company is thinking of investing in digital print for small minimum order quantities (MOQs), but there is a gap in printing cost and what customers are willing to pay.
He agrees that raw material is an important lifeline for any manufacturer. “We believe in making the best quality products and thus, we procure finest quality raw materials from internationally recognised names. We share a good rapport with all our raw material suppliers. As we do multi-level quality checks for raw material procurement our suppliers ensure to provide damage-free materials for our production line on time,” he explains.
Talking about the business aspect, Gupta says, the company has been facing the issue of price fluctuations from the suppliers due the pandemic. “We are working with them to get the best prices possible for our customers,” he says.