Bobst India appoints Deglurkar as the new president

Noel D'cunha, deputy editor, PrintWeek India speaks to Upendra Deglurkar, president and LE head at Bobst India about his new role in the company.

02 Aug 2012 | By Noel D'Cunha

Noel D'Cunha (ND): You come with background of having worked in sectors like health care, paper, IT and manufacturing. Do you think the kind of experience you have is enough to prepare you for this new stint at Bobst?
Upendra Deglurkar(UD): Yes...23 years experience of having worked with companies like 3M, Kimberley Clark, Asia Pulp and Paper, to name a few.

To answer your questions on whether this experience is enough, I would say this: an organisation these days need team management, innovative  and out-of-box  thinking  and also outlook that includes expanding footprint. In that sense, I am very confident that I have the experience, knowledge and innovative mind to build strategies needed to carry the mantle of Bobst in India. When I say, innovative strategies, it is not about magic. I believe innovation is more in the process, supply chain, manufacturing and sales and most importantly how to reach the customer.

ND: The Bobst group transformation project was planned with an aim to further increase customer satisfaction, broaden market coverage, extend our sales and service coverage. One, what’s the update on the project from India and two, how do plan to take the project ahead?
UD: The Bobst Group transformation project is being implemented across Bobst operations worldwide. The transformation concerns three sales functions: webfed, sheetfed and service as profit centres and then the supporting centres at the ground. In India it is almost done. We have changed the branding. We have changed the organisational structure to address the customer needs in a better way. We are also focusing on service. One of the mandate that I have been given is to implement this transformation at a much faster pace. So, that is absolutely on track.

ND: Over the past two decades we have witnessed key areas of the supply chain becoming digital, but packaging finishing has remained analogue. Now there are players who are bringing in digital technology in the area of packaging finishing. To cut the story short, the printing industry has begun to see fundamental shifts in its business. What do you see going forward for Bobst?
UD: Yes, we made some announcements in Drupa. Keep watching this space. There would be lots of innovations that would come. In early or mid of next year you would see a lot of news related to this from Bobst 

ND: Will that be seen in India?
UD: Yes, it will. World has changed now. In today's dynamic world it doesn’t happen that technology comes to India at a later stage. India is an important market for all, meaning Bobst and also our end customers like FMCG and pharma companies. 

ND: What is ahead for the Competence Centre project?
UD: See competence depends on research and development, and innovation. Going ahead we are looking to get a local research and development centre. We have done the hiring part of it, we found people who can think and innovate  and are with right attitude.

As you know, we have set-up a demo centre. The idea is not just to demonstrate the working of machines to the customers but to establish cost-effectiveness and efficiency of our machines. Here they can bring their own sheets, work on them and see the results by themselves. We are also open if any of our customer's end customers (like FMCG, food, pharma companies) want to understand how our machine works, they can come here and work on the machines.

ND: This Bobst plant is state-of-the-art. What other improvements/trends do you see in factory automation?
UD: We have recently installed a state-of-the-art laser-cutting machine which can cut stainless steel plate of 6-7mm in about 8 minutes. This has increased our capability to produce more.

ND: In light of these productivity gains, what areas offer the greatest room for improvement and why?
UD: At present we manufacture Expertfold, the folder-gluer machine. There’s room for improvement. What we plan to do is to source the critical parts from Switzerland while locally sourcing the sheet metal required for structure and other non-critical parts. That way we reduce on the transportation of sheet metal and in turn cost of the machine.

ND: Bobst has made significant inroads in the Indian market. Do you think the momentum will continue? Why or why not?
UD: Earlier the manufacturing activity was primarily focusing on group out sourcing requirements but in future we will leverage this facility more and more to carve a greater niche of local business opportunities by producing machines befitting local needs.

As for the momentum of our inroads in the India market, we believe it will continue. The Indian economy is growing at a fair clip and the consumption power is rising. The best part is people will need more packaging.

ND: What your vision for Bobst? How would you like Bobst compete in this thorny business environment?
UD: My key responsibility is to grow business in India. I need to bring India to the fore-front in Bobst group. This is a newly created position from responsibility point of view.

We received good orders at Drupa and we hope to dominate the board business. The weak area is the corrugated business. We will be focussing more on corrugated business.

ND: Do you see any other "hot product" or technology trends on the horizon?
UD: It would be corrugation post-print, where you input corrugated stock as the input and printed boxes are outputted from the other end. We do manufacture such machine. Expect to see one such machine come to India be the end of this year.

ND: With competition at an all-time high, are you seeing packagers opt for cheaper equipment from other manufacturers, which they typically ignored when market conditions were good?
UD: Opting for cheaper equipment is not the answer to competition, raising profitability is. Adopting best practices like lean manufacturing, Kanban method, improve service in terms of preventive maintenance, training employees as well as customers and finally opting for the right machinery. All this will make the company profitable.

We are working on cost reduction by adopting these best practices ourselves. I want every packager to have a Bobst machine or at least dream of having a Bobst machine.

Glimpses of the Bobst plant and Competence Centre in Pune