Digital is always going to complement the flexo business

Bengaluru-based Veepee Graphics ordered four Esko kit at Labelexpo Europe 2023. On the sidelines of the show, P Jaichandra of Veepee Graphics Solutions discusses with Noel D’Cunha, his company’s business strategy as well as his digital short-run print plans

15 Sep 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

Veepee Graphic Solutions, India has successfully finalised the acquisition of two XPS Crystal systems (LED UV exposure) and an additional CDI 4260 and CDI 4836 (digital flexo CTP imager) at LabelExpo Europe 2023?
Over the past three years, we have faced challenging times in both our Indian and Sri Lankan operations due to economic slowdown world over coupled with the political crises in Lanka. Our previous plans of upgrading technology and equipments were shelved for sometime. Now, as the economy is reviving and anticipating future growth we going ahead with our expansion plans. 

Are the machines going to Sri Lanka?
The smaller format will go to Sri Lanka. The bigger format will be installed in India.

Will it be at one of your existing plants?
No. We will soon be announcing one more location in India, which will take our total to five locations.

What is driving the growth of Veepee in India?
Embracing change and being the front runner in adopting new technology to service our customer better has always been Veepee’s mantra. Being closer to the customer is of the essence for us. As we have a pan India customer base setting up manufacturing facilities in strategic locations to service them has become inevitable. 

More of Esko for Veepee?
We have a Kodak system but somehow it just does not fit into our business model in terms of pricing strategy, so we had no other option but to work with the lams technology. 

When it comes to lams plate technology Esko stands out from other solution providers due to their proven technology. Therefore, it was an easy decision for us to choose Esko. We already have six imagers from Esko, and it's beneficial to have them in the same format at all locations for easy recalibration and standardisation. This ensures that the plate's image quality is consistent across all locations.

In terms of plates, which technology do you deploy?
Right now, we work with two plate suppliers – DuPont and MacDermid. Depending upon the job requirement we choose the plate technology. For certain specific application we use MacDermid and for the rest it’s DuPont, who is our major supplier of flexo plates.

There is talk of flexo job moving to digital. Do you think will? Does it show in your business?
No, not at all. I don't think that's ever going to happen. Digital is always going to complement the flexo business, it could never take over. This is what I've understood, at least after doing a deep evaluation of both the technologies. 

In fact we are also trying to get into the digital space by being a service provider for the converters by providing small or short-run prints, which our customers will convert and deliver the end product . We will assure the quality of digital and flexo, is the same.

Can you explain how this works?
We have to simulate the digital output to match the flexo qualities, so tomorrow if the job goes to flexo, there is no quality loss. This of course calls for standardisation between the digital output  device and the flexo press of our customer. This is our forte, as we have a good understanding of the colour management process and print optimisation. 

Do your customers or brands ask for sustainable plate solutions?
Unfortunately no. We have a sustainable solution for plate making  with the thermal technology we installed some six years ago.In fact, the carbon footprint of a finished plate in thermal is just 10% compared to a conventional solvent-washed plate, but who will pay for this? 

What else are your customers asking from you other than plate?
Reduction in plate price. It’s just going nowhere. Let me explain. Post-Covid-19, almost everyone in the value-chain of the packaging business got a certain price increase based on whatever factual reasons. It was the right opportunity for a rate correction in our industry which was always reeling under price pressure. But unfortunately post-Covid-19, prices of processed plates only dropped drastically. It became a distress-sale situation due to over supply and less demand. 

But you continue to expand and invest?
Technology upgradation was quite inevitable in our Lanka operation as the infrastructure was getting outdated. In India, we are forced to get closer to our customers facility to retain our business. Today, even though the time-to-delivery is just 24 hours, there are times when the delivery is required much faster. Veepee is not just a plate supplier, we are a solutions provider. This is our success story.