Abdos’ flexo adoption a customer-centric approach - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Abdos, established in 1967 in East India, is a diversified group of businesses, including lamitubes, life sciences, contract manufacturing, distribution and FMCG. Its lamitube business, which received a time-tested flexo process boost in 2019, is set to fortify Abdos’ growth which is built around customer satisfaction.

PrintWeek talks to Bijay Agarwal and Siddhant Agarwal of Abdos.

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30 May 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

Abdos’ journey began as a trading company in West Bengal’s Kolkata in 1967 by three brothers led by RG Agarwal. It started as a distributor of Tata Chemicals, and it is one of the key associations that still continue. “We believe the Tata Group is a key relationship for us, and that continues to be very important and close to the heart,” says Siddhant Agarwal, assistant vice president, Abdos.

Besides Siddhant, Bijay is also a part of the present Abdos Group management, comprising the second and third generation of Agarwal family, led by Kamal Agarwal. The Group has seven manufacturing plants in India, and one each in Nigeria and the UAE. Three of the seven plants in India are dedicated to packaging along with the two international sites.

In 2004, the Group began its multilayer laminated tube division in Guwahati, Assam, with a vision to produce cosmetic, oral care, pharmaceutical tubes for the Indian and overseas market. It then expanded and set up two more plants, one in Roorkee in Uttarakhand and another in Tinsukia, Assam.

Move to printing
Between 2004 and 2008, Abdos manufactured only tubes and outsourced its print requirements.
“We were both diversified and integrated with most of our operations being in one place, except for printing, which remained ‘work-in-progress’ for us till we brought the operation in-house,” says Siddhant, who manages the marketing side of Abdos Group.

In 2008, Abdos decided to bring printing in-house. The Group installed two Taiyo letterpress printing machines and in the next two years set up a conventional plate processing unit. “By moving printing and platemaking in-house, we became more efficient, we reduced costs, we could provide better service for our customers,” explains Siddhant. “As soon as we brought both printing and platemaking in-house, we were ahead of production all the time,” says Bijay, Director of Abdos Lamitubes, who manages the technical and production side.

Abdos’ tubing plants are close to its customers. “When you are moving empty tubes, you’re transporting air, hence the logistic cost for handling the product becomes challenging. You cannot think of catering to someone in Ahmedabad from Guwahati. You have to be close to the customer as much as possible,” says Siddhant.

In 2018, the Group ordered a nine-colour Nilpeter FA430 flexo press, and at the Labelexpo India 2018, it also signed a deal for Esko CDI Spark 2530 and DuPont Cyrel Fast 2000 TD thermal processor, to become the first tube manufacturing group in East India to install digital thermal flexo platemaking and venture into flexo printing for lamitubes.

Abdos’ plant in Guwahati, Assam, which houses the flexo pre-press and printing equipment

The changing Indian market
Siddhant explains that the tube printing business usually sees long runs. For Abdos, who caters to oral care, cosmetics and pharma industries mainly, more than 60% of their jobs are long run. The rest would be medium- or short-run.

“There is a growing visible move of millennials choosing a more aesthetically packaged product off the shelf over an established brand. For certain products there is a value in tubes which are more decorative, though they are short runs, they’re more profitable and this is a growing market space.” He cites the examples of a pharma company and men’s grooming brand, which have brought in tighter packaging with aesthetic appeal and are able to capture a bigger share of the market. This has been one of the reasons why Abdos invested in flexo which added foiling and screen-printing capabilities to their offering.

The all-encompassing flexo
Abdos caters to top brands like Unilever, Godrej, Himalaya, Emami, Dabur and Mankind, among others in India.

According to Siddhant, printing is just a part of the end-product it manufactures. “For us, the key customers are brand owners who have a very clear way of handling a product and the design, because they have international standards that they need to adhere to, and they have their own design teams. Through our R&D and pre-press teams’ expertise, we connect the two, to find solutions.”

So, when Abdos introduced printing into its manufacturing process, the letterpress installed gave fairly limited print options. The Group’s vision from the day it opened its door to flexo was to make its products even better and faster – which flexo helped them achieve.

“We considered the growing needs of our customers and looked around for a technology which would ensure high print quality,” said Bijay.

“The changing Indian market scenario and the consumer choices were driving our customers’ requirements for both the appearance and composition. Plus, there’s the quality checking process and potential print deviations,” Bijay adds. “That’s when we decided to go with the best, and after doing a thorough analysis of the market, we zeroed in on Nilpeter, Martin Automatic, Esko and DuPont.”

Siddhant Agarwal

The DuPont edge
While the flexo press has given it print flexibility in terms of speed, runs and quality and the AVT locates defects, it’s the pre-press and the DuPont Cyrel Fast plates which have enabled Abdos to eliminate defects, produce faster and maintain a high print quality very consistently.

Abdos uses Cyrel Fast EFX thermal plates with built-in flat top dot which is compatible with the inks it uses. “The conventional plates exposed from films, used to get damaged faster, attract dust which resulted in stoppages of machines. Not only has the minimum dot we hold on the digital thermal plate gone to 1% as compared to 3% on conventional; even the mileage we get with the thermal plates is substantially higher,” says Bijay. “Our customers are delighted with the halftones we produce as well as the clarity of the line-work, which are all visible,” he adds.

Besides, moving to DuPont Cyrel Fast solvent-free thermal workflow has had a positive impact on the environment from Abdos’ point of view. When the Group brought in the conventional platemaking system it had to build a proper infrastructure to treat the effluent to produce plates.

Siddhant says, “Now with the thermal processing system, we’ve reduced the impact on the environment drastically without investing in additional infrastructure.”

Bijay Agarwal

Bijay adds, “Our association with DuPont has been extremely satisfying. Any rare issues get immediately addressed. Supply has been always prompt and the thermal workflow performance has enhanced our entire flexo experience.”
“We want to be associated with a company that keeps on bringing new innovations so that we keep on upgrading with our partners. That was another reason why we chose DuPont.” says Siddhant.

Abdos and sustainability
Abdos has set objectives for its manufacturing processes to ensure safety and meet sustainability norms. They are ISO 9001:2008, BRC and Sedex certified. Abdos has established clear SOPs to manage printed waste.
“We have tied up with a local business that can convert this waste into reusable products such as building blocks and tiles among others,” concludes Siddhant Agarwal.

Abdos fact file

  • Established in 1967
  • Group businesses: Lamitubes, life sciences, contract manufacturing, distribution and FMCG
  • Lamitube business established in 2004
  • Tube manufacturing plant locations: Guwahati, Roorkee and Tinsukia in India, and one each in Nigeria and UAE
  • Total area: 2-lakh sqft – all the three packaging plants put together
  • Specialilty: Cosmetic, oral care, skin care, pharmaceutical tubes
  • Equipment: Nilpeter FA 430 flexo press, Esko CDI Spark 2530 and DuPont Cyrel Fast 2000 TD thermal processor
  • Production capacity: 1.4-billion tubes
  • Employees: 800 employees


DuPont’s Take

DuPont Cyrel Fast 2000 TD plate processor

“As a widely diversified group, Abdos has multiple industry touchpoints. They are very well informed about the macro environment influencing business and make decisions to meet future needs. A testimonial to this is their investment in flexo printing and the DuPont Cyrel FAST technology has been an immediate success in meeting their company vision of customer satisfaction while sustainably growing the business.”


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