Exhibitor’s Speak: Gourav Roy, managing director, FIG

All in all, at Labelexpo India 2014, Flexo Image Graphics had a good show, with the sale of at least five Rotoflex VSI 330 slitter rewinder machines. PrintWeek India talks to Gourav Roy, managing director, Flexo Image Graphics.

02 Nov 2014 | By Anand Srinivasan

The market
While the current market size of the Indian label printing industry is pegged at
Rs 3,000 crore, Roy believes big international players like Avery Denison, UPM Raflatek and SMI will be the right people to give the actual number. “We are into machine sales and it’s difficult for us to evaluate the growth. However, we know that all the machines we have sold are running well. Some of them might be running for 8 hours and others for 24 hours, but converters keep adding machines. So, obviously, there is growth,” Roy says. “If you want me to give you a number, we see a growth in the conservative side of at least 10-12%, not 18-20%.”
Roy, however, is prompt to agree that there has been a rise in the competitive environment. “More and more machines are coming, not only from Europe or the US, but also from China. We are also seeing a trend wherein people are switching from sheetfed offset to flexo,” he says.
And, how many label printers would be there in India? “Overall, this number would be around 500, and if you take letterpress, small and flatbed, then the figure could be much more,” says Roy.
There was a time when a converter would enter the industry with a simple machine and jump into the business. According to Roy, now things have changed. “Now, the market is more demanding. They are looking for more value additions and technical know-how. It becomes difficult for someone new with a small budget,” Roy argues. 
Current trends
According to Roy, the pharma sector is growing. And, I think, the way export is being promoted, the growth will continue,” Roy says, adding, “To give an example, one of our customers, Astron Packaging in Ahmedabad, a 100% pharma packaging player, started its business just a while back with a Mark Andy performance series, two P5s and they went for a Rotoflex with full 100% fault detection and just a week back, they went for a third Mark Andy P5. All this happened in just four years.”
Apart from this, the market for alcoholic beverage is also seeing a transition. “There used to be a ratio of 60 and 40, with 40 being roll-to-roll and 60 used to be roll to sheet or sheetfed offset. Now, this has also been taken over by roll-to-roll. In time, I see even country liquors are being shifted to roll-to-roll with self-adhesive labels,” says Roy.
Among other trends, Roy believes shrink sleeve is growing.
On the role future materials and technology, Roy argues that in case of self-adhesive, there is no problem with new materials being launched. But, when we talk about shrink sleeves or IMFL or specialised labels or heat transfers, material availability is difficult. “When we look at Europe or the West, there are specific materials which are being used, and there are several specialisations. In India, though we see gravure players doing shrink sleeves, since there are more SKUs and product variants, their volumes are coming down. So, there are chances that the narrow-web is going to get the opportunity,” says Roy.
Coming to flexo, Roy says while the technology remains the same, automation is increasing and people are focusing more and more on short-runs. “When it comes to short-runs, people need to make money. So they look at opportunities on how to changeover from one job to another quickly. Pre-press has grown, with features like HD flexo and specialised screening systems, which help produce good quality flexo,” says Roy. He also gives the example of Mark Andy, who has come up with a quick-change die cutting cassette system where automatically the dies can be changed and the cylinders can be changed.
Market for Mark Andy
Roy is quick to add that it is a competitive environment even for the manufacturers. “It is necessary to know what customers are looking for and customise the machine according to their need. It is not necessary that if we come out with something advanced and robotic, it is going to sell. So, it is something that needs to be produced and that comfort needs to be extended,” he says.
Coming back to Mark Andy, is the company developing a digital press, or is it a combi-press? Roy says Mark Andy is into manufacturing digital technology although it has not been launched in Asia yet, which will happen sometime in 2015. “They launched it in Labelexpo Chicago. It is a standalone digital system. A converter does not want just a digital press. He also wants other things like conversion, varnishing, hot or cold foiling, etc. In this machine, all these can be integrated together because of Mark Andy’s experience,” says Roy.
Are combi-presses the future? It would be a combination, says Roy. “A converter who needs a combi press, will also need simple straight forward presses, because there are lots of straight forward labels in the market. Parallel combination is needed but still the percentage is low,” he says.
Any breakthrough for Mark Andy in the last one year? “Digital is new to the market. The QCDC system from Mark Andy has its advantages. However, we have no installations in India because converters here are really not bothered. There will be some time before people go for more automation,” says Roy.
So far, FIG has overseen 200 press installations for the Mark Andy Performance series. It has also 25 installations in Sri Lanka, 4 to 5 in Pakistan and 35 in the Middle East.
During the last one year (January-December, 2013), the company sold approximately 12 presses in India. “We have at least five presses in the pipeline which will be installed by end of the year,” says Roy.
Label talk
In the label industry, we are seeing another tussle between wet glue and self-adhesive? Who will win? Roy says self-adhesive is growing fast. “Although lots of our machines produce wet glue labels and I see most of these guys, especially those who are in the liquor industry, moving towards self-adhesive,” Roy adds.
What about smart labels? “When we talk about RFID, it’s not only the labels, but the support around the system, which is critical. The label is a very small integration into the whole workflow,” says Roy.
There are other innovations, like booklet labels, multi-layer labels, and so on. Are the machines capable of producing such labels? Roy says the machines are capable of doing it, the market demand is slow. “We ask our convertors if they want such attachments. Even for them, it is a slow requirement,” says Roy.
Other products
Flexo Image Graphics also has other products in its kitty, including the Rotoflex, which has more than 65 installations in India. Roy says the new Rotoflex, showcased at the expo is 100% servo. The machine also has a 100% fault detection system to check each and every defects. Rotoflex’s key customers include Zircon Technologies, A&S Labels, Vinayak Labels, Webtech Labels, Huhtamakhi-PPL, Manipal Utility and Sel-Jegat, among others.
The company also boasts of four installations of its Xeikon 3030.