Converters need to offer flexible solutions that allow brands to customise their packaging
And for this, Vinsak’s latest offerings represent advancements in technology and innovation, including wider width presses from Lombardi, new finishing solutions from ABG, new intermittent presses from Iwasaki, new HB systems and digital inkjet systems, all of which are on display at Labelexpo Europe 2023, Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak tells Noel D’Cunha
14 Sep 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha
Noel D’Cunha (ND): How have the previous four years, since the last Labelexpo Europe 2019 been for your company – new moves, company health in terms of finances?
Ranesh Bajaj (RB): Our strategic alliances have expanded with Rotatek offset presses being added to the list. Also, key new products have been launched by ABG, Lombardi and Iwasaki, all of which will be shown at the show.
Our manufacturing division has experienced substantial growth during the current financial year. We’ve established a new R&D department, and our high-build system and digital foiling system received enthusiastic responses at trade shows worldwide, resulting in multiple orders for these products. We remain committed to supporting our current customers by providing them with innovative and cutting-edge technologies to support their business expansion.
ND: Your presence at the Labelexpo Europe 2023 – what’s different this time?
RB: Vinsak’s presence at Labelexpo Europe 2023 is marked by several exciting changes and enhancements. Our skilled technical team will be attending the show, bringing with them solutions tailored to adapt to the changing requirements of the industry. Our latest offerings represent advancements in technology and innovation. Wider width presses from Lombardi, new finishing solutions from ABG, new intermittent presses from Iwasaki, new HB systems and digital inkjet systems, all will be on display at the show.
Our continued after-sales service and focus on customer satisfaction means we are equipped with even more resources to provide top-notch support. We are here to help our customers navigate the ever-changing landscape of printing and packaging solutions.
ND: Your theme at the show and your star/key product(s) and how would you link it with a current trend, which you think is significant, and the visitors must take note of?
RB: Lombardi will launch the Invicta I2 wide-web press and we will announce the sale of the first machine to India.
ABG will showcase the wider Digicon Series 3 with a width of 430-mm, a thermal laminator of 800-mm width to support the HP 25K presses.
Iwasaki will showcase the Intermittent flexo for short-run productions.
Inkjet Solutions will showcase high-build systems and digital presses for label production.
ND: The global print label market size has reached USD 45.2-billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 58.8-billion by 2028 at a growth rate of CAGR of 4.17% during 2023-2028. The global labels market reached a volume of nearly 60.3 billion sqm in 2020 and reach 78.5 billion sqm by 2026. Do these numbers excite you? And why? What is your market share globally and in India?
RB: The global print label market’s remarkable growth is certainly an exciting prospect. While we do not disclose our market share figures, we can assure you that our company is dedicated to maintaining a competitive presence both globally and within India. We continually invest in research, development, and customer-centric solutions to secure and grow our market position.
As the industry continues to evolve and expand, we are committed to offering cutting-edge solutions to meet the evolving needs of our customers, both on a global scale and within the dynamic market.
ND: Consistency in print quality from the 1st to the last label with every label in between. Five simple steps you would recommend to achieve this. How many Indian label printers do you see this being implemented?
RB: Ensuring consistency in print quality is essential for delivering a professional and reliable product. Regularly calibrate and maintain your equipment. This prevents issues that can lead to variations in print quality. Establish and maintain standardised print settings for your label printing jobs. These settings should include parameters like colour profiles, resolution, and print speed. Consistency starts with having a set of defined standards. Implement a robust quality control process that involves inspection labels at various stages of production and checking for accuracy and defects -that may affect print quality. Choose high-quality label materials and inks that are compatible with your printing equipment. As this contributes to consistent print results. Invest in training programmes for your employees to ensure they are well-versed in operating the equipment and adhering to standardised processes.
ND: Many label printers in India price their work the same no matter who the customer is, not taking into consideration that different customers have different price elasticity. How does one make a label pricing inelastic? - More services; control the data; work with the sales team to classify customers (elastic/inelastic).
RB: If you are a “me too” producer, offering standard labels, then you will always be under the threat of competition and will also offer the lowest price. The key is to add differentiating factors to your products, either by way of embellishments or data (connected packaging). This is the only way to get a decent margin and customer retention and all our label converters need to try and implement the same.
ND: Waste, such as liners, and defective labels that have to be binned, is often overlooked. Other unnecessary costs, in areas such as disposal, labour and unproductive machine time, may also remain hidden. Calculating the cost of this waste is the first step towards addressing and resolving the problem. ... I know the profit leaders have a program of mapping categories of waste which a label plant needs to review and address. This will help the company increase value within your business. Your suggestions on how to tackle waste and related expenses?
RB: Buy technically correct equipment that will minimise set-up waste. Ensure press automation to reduce production waste. Buy wider presses for longer runs that will reduce the number of roll changes. Buy good finishing equipment and minimise the number of steps needed for production.
ND: That brings us to a question – what does sustainability mean to you – downgauging, renewable raw materials, recyclable, circular economy?
RB: Sustainability is a core principle that drives our approach to packaging solutions. There are now five Rs that each consumer is following and we as converters need to be aware of:
Refuse: See if the product is really needed. For example, mono cartons in alcobev. Reduce: Downgauging or resizing. Reuse: Prolonging life by finding new uses for them. Repurpose: Finding a new use for the same material. Recycle: Ensure that the end of life is not in a landfill but in a facility that puts the material back in use.
Sustainability is a commitment to responsible practices that benefit our environment and society as a whole. It means continually seeking solutions that reduce our carbon footprint, conserve resources, and promote a healthier, more sustainable future.
ND: Are brands using flexo better or digital? Can you share some examples that your customer has deployed using your solution?
RB: Flexo is still the mainstay technology. For short runs, digital has some traction but intermittent flexo and offset presses offer much better ROI. Versioning or VDP by digital is gaining quick ground.
ND: What more should the flexo or a digital player do to convince top brands in order to establish technology leadership?
RB: To establish technology leadership and convince top brands, both flexo and digital players should continuously invest in R&D to stay at the forefront of technological advancements and showcase the ROI of their technology. Offer flexible solutions that allow top brands to customise and personalise their packaging. Highlight your commitment to sustainability. Develop eco-friendly solutions that align with top brands’ sustainability goals. Provide comprehensive customer support and training programmes and collaborate with industry leaders and other technology providers. By focusing on the mentioned strategies, flexo, and digital players can not only establish technology leadership but also forge strong partnerships with top brands based on innovation, trust, and mutual success.
ND: Extended colour gamut is being talked about. How do the brands see the process or even ask for it?
RB: We do not agree with the ECG process. The cost of plates and running seven units all the time for a simple two-colour job is not sustainable. Ink kitchens making even 1 kg of ink of the correct Pantone and using the same for Pantone matching is the way forward. Most presses have data saving capabilities which can ensure faster set up of individual colours.
ND: You may have visited many plants in India and in Europe. We see two types of management. One is top-down, where quality is controlled with the production in mind. And then there is continuous and incremental improvement where the individual - the customer and worker - is the focal point. The approach is bottom-up - the Japanese style - where workers get involved. What works for India and why?
RB: In India or anywhere in the globe, bottoms up is the way forward. Unless all stakeholders are aligned, only pressure from the management downwards will not get the organisation to work as a team and take it forward.
ND: Finally, we have seen packaging innovations play roles – new product formats, becoming eco-friendly, increased shelf-life and such. Do you see labels playing more innovative roles like those happening in the packaging arena – out-of-the-box stuff? Can labels complement packaging innovations?
RB: Absolutely, labels have a significant role to play in driving innovation within the packaging arena. They can serve as a versatile tool for enhancing packaging in various ways. Incorporating interactive elements such as QR codes, NFC tags or augmented reality features that engage customers with product information and provide real-time data creates a unique and immersive brand experience. Labels can communicate a brand’s commitment to sustainability as this information resonates with environmentally conscious consumers and complements the packaging’s eco-friendly features. Incorporate security features such as tamper-evident seals, and holograms, to prevent counterfeiting and ensure product authenticity, enhancing consumer trust.
Variable data printing for promotions, adding a sense of exclusivity. By integrating labels with packaging innovations, brands can effectively convey their message, boost consumer engagement, and address the evolving needs of the market.
ND: Some numbers – production, sales during 2022 and 2023 (overall and in India)? Your projections for 2024?
RB: Numbers are confidential, but we grew 30% YOY during 2022 and 2023. We will grow even more in 2024 with some acquisitions and inorganic growth. Also, new product launches in the Q1 of 2024 will be game changers.