Exhibitor speak: Gaurav Roy, managing director, Flexo Image Graphics

PWI speaks to Gaurav Roy, managing director, Flexo Image Graphics, an exhibitor at Labelexpo India 2012.

02 Nov 2012 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran

What are the prominent trends you have seen in the label industry over the 12 years of FIG’s functioning in India?
In the last three years, we have seen that a lot of new entrants are coming into the label industry. In addition, the prominent label printers who have been investing in presses for some time are now looking at optimising their units with butt-splicers, torque rewinders, organised waste management systems etc. to ensure that they add capacity to their units.

HD Flexo would find a strong market in India and according to me the conventional plate making processes are coming down. Converters are looking at more and more combination labels where screen, UV and water-based inks are used on a press. In next two months, we would be installing an 11 colour machine with gravure. We might also have an online lamination system with glue application facilities. Multi-web too isn’t a technology that is far-off.

The short-runs are getting shorter. As a prominent equipment supplier, how has your strategy changed to adapt the scenario?
We always talk to a customer, understand their needs and then offer them a solution. For example, when we are approached by a customer, we ask them the thickness of media they want to print on, the run-lengths and other value-adds that they plan to have on the machine. This offers us a chance to serve their specific needs rather than just sell the machines.

We have been hearing about 12 micron label stocks are available in the market. Are the label printers in India ready for effectively utilising thinner label stocks?
The performance series machine can do even 12 micron films as well. However, officially we say that we can handle anything from 15-250 micron. At the same time, very few customers are ready for such thin labels in the country. Only those who have the right pre-press and plate-setting machines at their facility are ready.

How is growth in digital changing the landscape of the industry?
Digital is of course catching up, but when you ask about its share in the total label printing pie, then I must say that it is still maturing and holds around 5%. Digital is more of a complimentary technology to those who already own a flexographic press. It will never replace the narrow web flexo machines. How it will change the scenario? Well, it is possible that pre-press houses might get into label printing using the digital presses, and also, the large printing houses would opt for digital presses for short-runs. Thus, with the retail boom we expect to see lot of private labels coming in the near future. Then the base of digital will widen.

There is a buzz that the FDI will provide a thrust to the label industry. What is your take on this?
With the advent of FDI, everyone is expecting the label industry to grow at the rate of 30% from its current 17-20% annual growth rate. However, there are brighter and darker sides to every situation. There is huge amount of growth possibility in India. It’s a matter how we would explore this opportunity.

While on one side, it is good that European companies would be eying the smaller Indian companies and the Indian market. On the other side, there are also chances that it might decide to run their capacities there and send them to the Indian markets. Thus, the converters might not get a chance to expand. However, these are only possibilities, and we should always be geared for opportunities.

Are you planning to add more partners?
We are looking at various partners to venture into consumables and boost our after-sales. Mark Andy has opened a training site at St Louis. We are also planning something similar in India. We are also looking very closely at the wide-web flexo for packaging.

What are the major challenges for the growth of the industry?
It’s a transforming market but over all I feel that we lack in providing the right education and knowledge about the industry in our institutes. The dependence on unskilled labour and on-job training has been holding back the growth.

Should trade shows be only about technology or should they focus on applications?
Leaving apart all the conflicts that may rise due to adopting one way or another, as you suggest, the best scenario would be when a printer or convertor walks in and he can find something new to do at every stand.

Dream machine for a label printer in India?
A dream machine can’t ever be of a configuration that has all the printing technology like flexo, gravure, screen, etc. A lot of it depends on the kind of market the printer is catering to. Personally, if I am the convertor, my dream machine would be one which would just require a command and even the most complicated of labels would be produced in seconds with zero human intervention.