Exhibitor’s Speak: Harveer Sahni, CEO, Weldon Celloplast

PrintWeek India speaks to Harveer Sahni of Weldon Celloplast, an exhibitor at Labelexpo India 2014.

01 Nov 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

Still growing

At Labelexpo, Weldon Celloplast, a solutions supplier to the label and package printing industry, not only organised demonstrations for Omet XFlex X4, a narrow-web flexo press, but also hosted a Technology Bar to share its expertise. According to Harveer Sahni, CEO, Weldon Celloplast, the label industry in India is still a growing market, even though the numbers seems to have declined. “There was a time not long ago when the growth rate was close to 25%. Today, the growth rate is between 10 and 15%, not because of reduced consumption but because the volume has increased substantially,” he says.

While everyone agrees that the Indian label printing industry is growing, there seems to be a difference of opinion about the size of the industry. According to some market reports, the per capita consumption of label is between 0.25 and 0.30sq/mts. Back in 2003, Sahni says, he had undertaken a research and found that the total consumption of adhesives was around 5,000 tonnes. He also took into accounts the amount of silicon used. “If we consider those figures as a benchmark and assume the average annual growth rate since 2003 to be 15%, one would end up with a figure of about one billion sq/mts,” he says. “I think the market insiders purposely want to project a smaller consumption figure, to hide the actual potential of the market, so as to discourage new competitors. According to me, the per capita consumption is considerably more than what these market reports are claiming.” 

Sahni says the comparison between the Indian and the western market is not a good indicator. “There is a difference in how the label market is growing in the western world,” he says. “Short-run jobs and personalisation have arrived in Europe and the US, while in India it will take another decade-and-a-half for the technology to take root.”

Domestic trends

In the Indian context, he says, printers need to empower themselves and develop the capabilities and configurations proactively, and add value to their client’s brand. “I firmly believe there is technological quality difference, which depends on the press one is using,” he says. Then there is innovation. “People who can innovate, do value addition and implement applications for brand protection will triumph,” he adds.

Yet, one must look towards the international market. “Global trends are always an indicator of what the future entails. Eventually these trends will come to India. You can already see some firms doing short-run personalisation jobs in India and are marketing themselves like a European firm,” Sahni says.

What about the trends in material and technology? “People think I am anti-pressure sensitive, but nothing could be further from truth. Wastage in self-adhesive labels is a big issue, but as the technology evolves, wastage will definitely go down. Some people believe that wet glue labels will make a comeback. I personally think since it does not fulfil the requirement of a ‘clean room,’ there isn’t much scope for them. But, wet glue technology can re-emerge in a new avatar that I have seen, where a label is pre-gummed with a dry adhesive, which can be activated using a solution,” he says, adding that this system will eliminate the use of liners and hence, it will provide more printable area on the labelstock. “Heat sensitive label is another technology that has caught my eye,” he adds. “Digital is another technology that can impact the label industry. It could be a complete game changer if one could print the label directly on the product, eliminating liners and substrates altogether.”

What about the progress of digital technology? The challenge with digital arises when one is printing in the roll form, says Sahni. “In Europe, with smaller populations and higher purchasing power, they can afford to opt for short-run jobs. In India, this is not the case. There are flexo label printers everywhere and Indian short-run jobs on an average consist of 5,000 labels, which can be produced cost-effectively on a flexo press,” he adds. “Digital will arrive in the market for its convenience and on-demand qualities. The ease of use is its biggest plus point.”

What about smart labels? “In my opinion, smart labels should have entered mainstream market a decade ago. Unfortunately, the volatility of technology has prevented it from going mainstream in India. Just like digital printing, smart labels will also find their place in the Indian market, thanks to the convenience that they provide brand owners and supermarkets in tracking a product,” Sahni says.

Over to Omet

Since Weldon is the Indian representatives of Italy-based Omet, you want to ask Sahni about the developments in print and finishing technologies in flexo printing? Sahni said flexo has really evolved. The quality has improved and integration with different technologies is propelling it further. “The evolution of inline laser die-cutting is ensuring precision. At this point laser die-cutting is a costly affair because its needs to be regularly replaced, but once the technology evolves and becomes cost-effective, it will affect mechanical die-cutting,” he says, adding, “Waste management is also an integral part of finishing. Today, waste management is an Achilles’ heel for many printers. This needs to be addressed.”

How did Omet performed in India in the last one year. The brand has gained tremendous value since the last Labelexpo India, says Sahni. “Three of the largest presses in India are Omets. Omet has worked towards reducing manual intervention and the presses give auto register in both machine direction and cross direction,” he adds.

In India, Omet has 12-13 installed all across the country. “In 2013 we installed two presses. This year, including the installation at Zircon, we have installed two presses,” he says. “As people are realising the potential of an Omet press, we have received increased number of queries. The next couple of months will be really exciting as we are talking to quite a few prospective buyers.”