Massilly: India's Rs 100-million metal packaging company

In a conversation with students from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Kaushal Vora, managing director of Manipal-based Massilly India Packaging shares his India plans and how the firm intends to stay at the top of the metal packaging industry in India

22 Mar 2018 | By PrintWeek India

Can you tell us about your journey in metal packaging. Please begin at the beginning.
We always had a long-standing relationship with Manipal. My father was an alumnus of Manipal Institue of Technology (MIT) and had a warm relationship with the Pai family. We entered the metal packaging business almost three decades ago and have been producing can caps, printed sheets, among others. We started in Manipal under the name Genesis by catering to Gautham Pai for their Ekam’s candle business. There were few setbacks initially, but our stakeholders were supportive, and eventually, the business started growing. 
Why cans? And what makes cans so popular? 
I knew metal packaging in India has a future because of the continuous change in the lifestyle of people plus it is a form of packaging which is recyclable. Also, metal printing is niche market, and the design and material play an essential role in the final packaging and customer satisfaction. What I learned from the business is to capitalise on the opportunities and focus on the quality of the products.
How did the collaboration with Massilly happen? Tell us about its current operations in India? 
The collaboration with Massilly happened in 2011. It is a joint venture with a French group who is world number three in metal packaging. The parent company has 24 companies worldwide. Today, in India the company has over 90 employees who work for the major brands. Our aim is to reduce the carbon footprint, shorten development times, and better control the process. In all this, the objective of irreproachable quality, at competitive costs, remains our USP.
Metal packaging has a range of applications. Can you brief us about your product profile and clients?
Massilly’s centre of focus is packaging for food products. In Genesis, we work with stationery products. Also, we are Unilever certified and are our most significant client. It is a matter of pride that our company is the only one that is qualified among all the other 24 companies in the Massilly Group. We also do business with Right Zen (a French company), Neo Foods, ITC, among others.
Other key clients are Faber-Castle, Hindustan Pencils, SC Johnson. We are the only suppliers for SC Johnson in India and Srilanka. Through Primacy and with other clients we work with Dollar Store, Walmart, Indigo airlines and all other major retailers in the US. So, when we speak about clients, the business is continually growing.
How do you maintain the quality of the product produced at Massilly?
As we print on metals, we need printers, technicians, and also engineers to handle the technicality of the products. Hence the employees play a crucial role in it. For this, it is essential to give them proper training. We have sent our staff abroad for training related to fine-tuning of press and finishing operations of the product. Though all the machines are fully automatic, the employee handling needs to have thorough training. It helps us in waste reduction. In addition to this, we have a lab with chemists who undertake research and development projects. Our team offers our customers the comfort and responsiveness of proximity, easy communication and the industrial experience of metal processing, acquired by the Massily Group for a century. Furthermore this is a young team with women and men workers - and an average age of 35 years. 
What will be the one comment from a customer that pleased you?
A customer who said that we are “a solution-oriented company with quality and commitment”. Time is the most critical element in business. Especially in the edible food items. Time deadlines must be followed. We ensure 100% on-time deliveries. This has helped boost our business. That is what we give to our customer and in turn the customer expects from us.
What is the present industry scenario according to you? And how are you ahead of your competitors?
Metal packaging has a lot of growth potential. But when we talk about competition, we keep innovating via products and increase the growth. I have seen that the competition level has gone down because of the competitors being satisfied with what they have at present. In this day and age, you need to develop one asset daily.
So, according to you what is a right scenario?
It is when a company follows right ethics in place, with a clear understanding of the growth path. In our case, along with the support from our joint venture with the French company, we take capital at a very lower cost from the parent company. We work together on this which helps in the expansion of the company. Because of this, in four years Massilly has grown from being a Rs one million to Rs 100 million company in India. When we started, we were number five in our area of specialisation. Today, we are number one in India and are still growing strength to strength. The parent group Massilly invests seven percent of its turnover each year which is about Euro 21 million. Out of which, this year it has allotted 40% to our company in India because of the rapid growth and progression of the business in India.
You are a provider of the metal packaging and offer solutions for the decoration of two- and three-piece cans.  What is the percentage of two and three-piece cans in India and what do the Indian brands prefer?
Two-piece cans and three-piece cans are two different things and are available in aluminium, tin plate and steel. The usage of two-piece and three-piece cans depends on its application and industries. The two-piece types differ depending on the market and the product application and are used for products such as fish cans, cheese cans, beverage cans, etc. Steel cans are usually preferred as they can be recycled at a faster rate. Aluminium two-piece cans are also used as aluminium can be drawn quickly and hence used in aerosols, home fragrance, etc.  
And the three-piece can market?
Three-piece cans’ per capita consumption in India is very low when compared to France. It is used for packaging milk and other decorative cans. Our consumption is 1/20 when compared to France and are 1/100 when compared to the USA. It is because, use of canned food is not the Indian culture, but the scenario is slowly changing. With the increase of micro families, and the husband and wife working, there is no time to cook. This will stimulate the growth of processed food in the Indian market. Which is why, the three-piece food cans have a high potential to grow. Having said that, infrastructure is a big issue in India, but we feel the Make in India initiative by our government may be of great help to the all the industries.
Aerosols are used for a range of applications, what are your thoughts?
The use of aerosol in India is growing well, especially the aluminium aerosol. I feel, this will further fuel the growth. The world number one, Ball Corporation has already entered India. Soon, India will become one of the largest production houses in the world. Crown cap market in slowing down, but lug caps will continue to grow. Plus, decorative cans market is also picking up India. 
What is your shopfloor like? Can you share about the various printing presses, coating machines, deployed in your unit?
In metal printing, offset technology is used, and mainly one or two-colour machines are used. There is only one six-colour machine in India. Even though the pre-press process is same, we still use the conventional processing techniques. The infeed systems should be robust to handle plate thickness of 0.14-0.30mm. For lug caps it is 0.14-0.17mm. Conventional inks, as well as UV inks, are also used. The printed sheets undergo external drying in the tunnel and then varnish is applied. For food cans, the coating should be passed for food safety regulation.
Which ready-made system solutions and applications are your USP?
Right now, we use Excel and Tally. But by 2019-20 we are planning to opt for the M3 software which is like SAP because M3 is more European-based and advanced. Other systems used here have 100% traceability from sheets to caps and caps to sheets. All the product details are maintained for four years, which includes its shelf life plus one additional year for food packaging products.
What are the challenges of printing on a flat sheet?
Challenges of creating on flat sheets are mainly the shade variation. This is due to the environmental factors such as heat, moisture, temperature variations etc. Shade variation will also occur during drying as it is not the same on the entire surface. Therefore 100% perfect print can’t be expected while creating flat sheets. Other challenges are wastage and scrap.
Are the costs tenable?
Metal sheets are comparatively expensive than paper sheets. When printing is done with the waste is of 3-5%, the value addition is 15% for lacquers and inks. But if the print is not carried correctly, then the sheet wastage is much higher and hence the cost. Another challenge is to source a supplier who can supply good metal sheets.
What is your cap production capability?
We produce caps at a speed of 500 caps/min, whereas our parent company produces at 1800 caps/min. Hence the volume of the sheet and quality consistency should be really good to maintain its strength for proper registration at such high speed.
Inks are crucial to the process. What type of metal decorating inks and coatings do you deploy?
Usually, conventional inks are used for metal printing; however UV inks are also used by Massilly. UV inks are very useful because output can be achieved faster. UV is not used in our company because for drawn cans, and food cans, in the inside surface, UV inks can’t be applied as it requires a conventional coating. All the coatings are Epoxy-based and BPNI is also used which is a French standard because in France BPA is not used. We have been using BPNI from past two-three years for some products that we export.  Other than this, polyester-based and acrylic-based coatings are used. The polyester-based coatings are used by Massilly all over the world and the same standard is followed by every plant across the world.
Three products in your portfolio that you have created, which were tricky and make you proud?
The first product is the lug caps that we manufactured for a French company. Here the raw material used is steel. But steel when comes in contact with acid and salt, causes rusting. So, it must be protected well with a coating of lacquers and get a perfect cap. The jars are to be capped at the speed of 10,000 jars per hour, which was a difficult job, and we managed to produce a cup within one month of setting up the machine. 
The second product were the cans produced in Genesis, especially the candle cans which was difficult to manufacture and it was a unique experience working on that product.
The third one is the product which won the “Cans of the year” award for the first time in India. This product was innovated and developed at Massilly’s shopfloor in India. In spite of us being four years old, we could successfully innovate, and the fact that the French company adapted all the information and details and produced it on their land makes us proud. 
We liked the candle cans ...
Oh yes. These are shaped cans produced for candles, cashews, etc. More than half a million cans were manufactured in 30-40 days and were supplied.
Your plan for Massilly in India for 2018? 
In 2018 we are going planning for a major expansion for which we have started procuring additional land.  To begin producing fish and cheese cans is another big plan.
Where do you see it in the next five years?
In the future, we plan to invest in new metal printing lines and coating machines from a UK-based firm.  We have the intention to install automatic machines for metal printing.  All the plans will be executed and will be ready by June 2018. For the new business the first container will also be shipped soon, and for lug caps, we have already expanded and doubled our capacity for its production.  
The interview was conducted by Sagarika Shetty, Pranjali Kanchi and Nagaprasad; and the photographs were shot by Chirag KS and Tanishk Shivley. They are currently pursuing printing technology from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT)
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