In the HP partnership, TechNova sees brighter prospects in digital printing - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Pranav Parikh, chairman and managing director of TechNova is among the few who have been able to see things from both industry and business perspective. In this conversation with Parikh, WhatPackaging? tries to understand why he believes there will be an upside potential in digital printing’s growth in coming times

12 Feb 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

What makes TechNova-HP’s Demo Centre in Navi Mumbai an ideal environment for print and packaging service providers looking to experiment and innovate?
The TechNova-HP Demo Centre in Navi Mumbai is called TOUCH. It will help customers understand, experience and embrace cutting-edge technologies. At the TOUCH Centre in Navi Mumbai, customers can explore interesting applications and business growth opportunities for PSPs and brand owners.

TechNova’s TOUCH dates back to 1996... a knowledge-sharing platform. What’s the objective of the centre?
TOUCH is an acronym for TechNova Open University for CHange. The primary objective of TOUCH Centre is to offer the Indian print industry a platform for learning new skills, experiencing the latest technologies and achieving operational excellence by adopting the latest trends in the industry.

Labels and packaging are a vast industry. Which specific verticals will be your focus areas?
Our alliance with HP is for the labels, packaging and publication segments. All three segments are growing at a rapid pace in India, and our objective is to enhance our customers' profitability, grow their business and give them a competitive advantage.
Consumer trends are changing very rapidly, primarily driven by short-runs, sustainability, brand protection, food safety and the rise of many small brands.
With the HP Indigo and Pagewide solutions, we will focus on specific needs of labels, folding cartons and publication segments.

Many equipment buyers want to see the equipment in action before deciding to invest in it. In that sense, what is the aim of the demo centre – selling equipment or collaborating with the PSPs to promote innovation?
It is indeed difficult to decide to buy an HP Indigo device, which has a significant cost impact, without experimenting and experiencing it. At the TOUCH Centre, customers can get a real feel of the offering and how this will impact their business growth strategies.

We see the TOUCH Centre developing into an incubation and exploration facility to encourage innovation with the world-class HP Indigo technology for PSPs and brand owners. The TOUCH Centre will act as a point for demonstrating HP Indigo technology and performance, new application development for PSPs and brand owners, providing proofing services and training to match offset print quality, and educational sessions for the new generation coming to the print business, and print-packaging students.

The HP Centre of Excellence in Singapore and, to some extent, in Tel Aviv have several kits, including ancillary equipment. That’s because they are also R&D and manufacturing sites. Would it be too early to think of something similar in Navi Mumbai?
The TOUCH Centre at Navi Mumbai in India is structured to serve objectives similar to HP’s Centres in Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Singapore. India is one of the fastest-growing economies with a large packaging market. The requirements of this segment have significantly evolved in the recent past.
In line with our philosophy of ‘customer first’ with the mission to continuously enhance the competitive advantage of our customers, we will continue to augment the facilities & services at the TOUCH Centre.

India is a personality driven society. A facility like a demo centre should also be equipped with a person who drives the show. Who is that person in the TechNova-HP Demo Centre?
We will be having a team of cross-functional experts driving the TOUCH Centre to ensure a holistic experience and a 360 degree value addition to the customers.

Brands are spending more and getting less on their investment. For example, Nielsen research shows that more than 85% of new products fail in consumer goods. There are a few campaigns that the HP team has shared. What more can be done? In order to disrupt the traditional innovation approach?
HP’s strategy to create an ecosystem of printers, brand owners, profitable applications and partnerships is unique. Taking this strategy forward for established PSPs and brand owners, we would also like to empower start-ups and SMBs in the packaging segments by facilitating the development of new applications with a focus on sustainability, food protection, security and brand protection to unleash profits for them.

Third time TN has reunited with HP; this includes PNP's famous show with Benny Landa in the nineties ... How different is this alliance?
Our journey in digital printing started in 1993 with our alliance with Benny Landa for marketing Indigo presses in India. We gave live demos of the Indigo press in our stand at Pamex in 1993.
It proved to be way ahead of its time in terms of technology refinement and customer acceptance.
Soon after that, HP acquired the Indigo business from Landa and aligned the press capabilities to suit customer needs.

How did the Indigo connection continue, vis-a-vis HP?
So, in the meanwhile, TechNova developed a special polyester-based non-tear water-resistant film for the production of photographs on Indigo presses. It has helped HP to convert the photo market from silver halide paper-based photos to digital polyester-based photos with multiple benefits, such as non-tear, water-resistant, and double-sided prints.

We have deepened our partnership with HP to include a full range of Indigo solutions for folding cartons and labels and the inkjet press for publishing. The requirements of these segments have significantly evolved from the nineties. Our customers have expressed the need to integrate digital into their existing traditional offset set-up to serve highly customised and unique print applications that fit the smart era. These need to be delivered just-in-time, without any minimum quantity restrictions. HP Indigo is the perfect solution.

What does this tie-up with HP mean to your strategy... since you have other digital vendors you represent?
TechNova's strategy has and will always continue to be 'Customer First', offering total imaging solutions that focus on a customised range for our customers.

The objective is to enhance customers' profitability, grow their business and give them a competitive advantage. To serve the entire spectrum of customer needs, in addition to our own manufactured products, we have multiple alliances with the world's best solution providers in each category. We combine the unique offerings of our alliance partners with our tech support, nationwide distribution network, and customer connect.
The – offset Vs digital debate continues. Impact on your plate and chemical business?
TechNova has always believed in the power of 'and' and not 'or'. We believe in a co-existence of both offset and digital" and not a replacement or substitution. TechNova was the first to establish this inclusive philosophy in our strategic positioning and customised product offerings.
We believe that offset and digital will co-exist. It is borne out by the fact that printers who have adopted digital printing continue with their offset or flexo (in the case of label printers) facilities. We see digital printing devices as a means to enhance the capabilities of a printer to address a broader range of market needs. Our tagline is - Enhance offset and integrate digital.

Is TN venturing on a transformation – a technology shift to set its business up for future growth?
It can be quite tricky, considering you still have over 70% of the market share in one segment of your business.TechNova is focused on constantly evolving itself to remain relevant for its customers. It has been doing so for the past 50 years and will continue to do so.
Embracing digital is the need of the hour. We are partnering with the world's leading digital print company, HP, to enable our customers to offer a mix of digital and offset printing services and exploit unique profit opportunities.

How will TN ensure that the kit reaches factories in Udaipur and Madukarai, and Purvanchal?  
With the most comprehensive distribution network, state-of-the-art Regional Distribution Centres in every relevant print centre and a well-spread-out team of print consultants and technical service experts, TechNova is structured to serve customers in the remotest corners of India.
We are further enhancing our reach and effectiveness with efficiency-enhancing digital tools, such as TechNova Shop Front – our online ordering portal, CRM solution, and online real-time logistics tracking application.

Inflation impact on HP Indigo ops in India? Tough time to launch this partnership. What were the challenges?
Whether offset or digital, there is no doubt the current time is challenging amid Covid, the Russian-Ukraine situation, spiralling prices of essential input materials like aluminium, solvents, crude and paper, and disruptions in the global supply chain infrastructure. It is true not just for our industry but for the Indian economy and the global macro situation. However, we always believe that in challenges lie opportunities - and we hope this partnership will offer our customers exciting and innovative solutions for their business.

It is said you need a technology-led business strategy, not a business strategy supported by technology... Where does HP Indigo technology sit? Why so few HP Indigo installations in India thus far as opposed to worldwide numbers?
It is a synergistic blend of both. The right combination of business and technology strategy is imperative to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. TechNova has a successful track record of balancing both for the past 50 years and will continue to do so – we have introduced numerous products and solutions which are - innovative firsts - for the printing industry.

Our partnership with HP fits in perfectly with our strategic position of combining a business and technology focus.
HP's strategy to create an ecosystem of printers, brand owners, profitable applications and partnerships is unique. HP's futuristic technology fits in perfectly with TechNova's business strategy of focusing on customers' needs to enhance their profitability. Digital printing has been a late starter in India but is catching up quickly. India is among the fastest-growing regions for HP and possibly for other digital players.

TechNova-HP launch demo centre to boost packaging

TechNova-HP launched the Touch Centre at the TTC Industrial Area in Turbhe MIDC, Turbhe, Navi Mumbai on 9 January 2023. The two companies are counting on the new centre to spark creativity.

The Centre is equipped with the HP Indigo 6K kit, but soon will be backed up by supplementary machines. Inaugurated by TechNova’s chairman Pranav Parikh and HP’s country manager A Appadurai, the 3,000 sqft space empowers mono cartons and label converters in India to experience HP Indigo technology and performance, and use it to develop new applications and prototypes. “We hope to provide technology and tools to the packaging converters to develop creative solutions to complex problems,” said Parikh.

A Appadurai, country business manager for Indigo and inkjet business solutions at HP India,  said, “Our mission is to provide a level playing field for the start-ups and SMBs in producing world-class packaging. Today HP Indigo converters cater to about 10,000 such start-ups. With this centre, our target is to multiply that number by 10 times. We want to be the incubator of packaging for these start-ups. We believe the second generation of the print industry would love doing this knowing that they are making a big difference to the world.”