'India is a crucible of label production' - A report by Harveer Sahni

Harveer Sahni, managing director of Weldon Celloplast, highlights the key players who are fast emerging as manufacturers for global label equipment and creating skills that propel growth

09 Feb 2011 | By Staff Writer

The amount of capital invested in new and modern equipment along with the capability of such equipment to convert volumes is the true indicator of sustained growth in the years that will follow.

However unexpected economic trends like those in the difficult year that went by, cannot be ruled out. It is a matter of rejoicing that India had strong fundamentals and financial discipline because of which it is pulling out of an otherwise distressing economic slowdown at a steady pace.

If we look at the label industry in India, we note that most of the time it is the fancy branded imported presses that get the mention leaving our local presses unnoticed. It is the growing number of imported presses that are taken as the parameters indicating the health of self adhesive label industry.

The local label press manufacturers, who were small and struggling to find recognition, received only occasional mention in articles reporting on the Indian label industry.

Made in India
The big brands are here. Gallus, Nilpeter, Iwasaki, Gidue, Mark Andy, Rotatek, Focus, Orthotec, the list is endless. But in the due course of time, Indian press manufacturers have made their mark.

Consider, R K Machines. The company has grown steadily in the flatbed label press segment. The company has sold 60 presses in 2009 and set targets for 100 presses in 2010. To complete their range of offerings, they imported tower stack type presses and selling them in India. Now, they have developed this model locally and showcased the same at Labelexpo India 2010.

Jandu Engineers offer only rotary flexo printing and converting machines. They started to build these presses in the mid nineties, with the first one going to Prakash Labels in Noida. More than 100 presses have been installed.

Baldev Singh Jandu, director at Jandu Engineers, says: "We cannot meet the demand. We hoped to deliver 20-25 presses in 2010 achieving a growth rate of over 25%". Jandu is now building a four colour plus one UV station modular rotary flexo press. It plans to make a full UV six colour press in the future.
Faridabad-based Multitec Aids, manufactures printing and converting solutions in the mid-web and narrow-web range. Besides producing ancillary equipment, Multitec Aids was primarily a manufacturer of computer stationery converting machines.

Multitec operates out of a 45,000 sq/ft factory located on the outskirts of Faridabad and built on a plot of over six acres. This assures them availability of adequate space for future expansion. While most operations are handled at Faridabad, they have a marketing office in Mumbai. With a workforce of 80, they export 20% of their production. The factory is equipped with designing capabilities, CNC machines and computerised testing facilities.

The demo centre has an Ecoflex press which is kept on display for prospective customers to conduct trials. Multitec Aids has sold more than 600 machines.

Amit Ahuja, chief operating officer at Multitek Aids, says: "It is great time. The Indian label industry is shaping up after the slowdown. Multitec will grow by 50% in the label printing segment. We have sold 12 presses in 2009 and sold 20 in 2010."
Manufactured overseas, sold in India
The Indian representatives of most of the international press manufacturers have shifted gears and are in an aggressive selling mode. The credit of expanding this market goes to companies like Flexo Image Graphics selling Mark Andy, Creed Engineers selling Rotateks, Lintec and Omega.

While Label Planet selling Focus and Orthotec, Heidelberg India selling Gallus machine, Vijay Pareek offering MPS, and Weldon Celloplast offering Omet, Reifenhauser with Gidue and Proteck who part-manufacture the Nilpeter in their Chennai unit.

Creed Engineers with seven offices across India and 100 employees sell a diverse range of companies and their products including Rotatek, Acquaflex, Linetec, A B Graphics, Security inks, Kodak flexo plates, Jet polymer plates and security software. It is a record of sorts that till date they have sold almost 100 Omega slitter rewinders. Besides this they have sold  about 60 label presses. The biggest deal Ranesh Bajaj states, his selling two16-colour printing presses for security printing.

Label Planet which represents Orthotec, Focus, Cartes, Miyakoshi, Inktek and Rotary Technologies has sold more than 200 presses.

The future looks bright what with label guru, Mike Fairely stating during the recent LabelExpo in Delhi that he expects "more than 100 brand-new label presses to be installed in 2011."

The future is multi-location
In order to provide top class service to the print buyers, the label converters feel the need of having multi-location manufacturing units.  

Interlabels Industries, headquartered in Mumbai, started the trend of manufacturing from more than one location. It started by setting up their units in Delhi, Baddi, Kolkata and Chennai. The company also has a unit in Nairobi Kenya.

Gautam Kothari managing director at Interlabels Industries, says: "The trend in recent days is such that a lot of the customers want their suppliers to be close to their manufacturing locations. This is because the lead time needed to complete an order has shortened considerably due to market pressure.

India being a huge country, catering to all the regions from one location is difficult. Having multiple manufacturing locations has helped us to reduce the time to get the material reaching them apart from reducing the freight cost."

Kothari added: "The concept of multiple locations for us is extremely beneficial as our customers are based all over the country and speed of response is essential. As far as manufacturing goes, it helps in better servicing. However, having multi-location manufacturing does add to much higher operational costs which no customer is willing to pay for."

Webtech Industries, the Mumbai–based label printing company has a voracious appetite for expansion and growth. The company has set-up  its second printing unit in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.

Amar Chhajed, director at Webtech Industries, says: "It is one of the ways to grow and we hope to add units at different locations in India."

Ajanta Packaging Mumbai-based packaging company has multi-locational presence. It has units in Baddi, Daman and Sharjah, UAE. The Mumbai unit caters to the offset printing; while the Daman unit pioneered waterless printing; and Baddi had production on a top of the line, MPS press.

Chandan Khanna, director at Ajanta Packaging, says: "Having multiple locations is part of Ajanta’s growth plan. Moreover, it is in line with our commitment to our customers. If you have the patience and power to invest, multi-location manufacturing is highly beneficial. Ajanta will definitely add another location by 2012."
Marching on: Prakash, Zircon, Stallion
This trend is not restricted to printers in Western India alone.
Noida-based Prakash Labels, have also expanded to many manufacturing locations. It has three manufacturing units in Noida, one in Baddi and one in Mumbai. Besides this, they have a marketing office in Ajman, UAE.

Dinesh Mahajan, who heads the Prakash Labels, says: "To serve customers in a vast country like India, one has to be located in all zones in order to have a national presence. It is a definite way to grow".
Zircon another Noida-based label printer has been reporting continuous expansion by adding new equipments. According to Sanjeev of Zircon, they have two manufacturing locations already and plan to add two more by end of 2011.

Coimbatore-based Stallion Systems, is a multi-located printing company. It is located at four locations and has 16 marketing offices. Rajiv Nair director of Stallion Systems initially worked for a label company and then started his own label printing firm.

Nair, says: "Due to delivery delays to pan India customer base and high freight costs, it became necessary for us to locate at different places. Stallion benefitted from the decision and feel that it is the way to grow. We will continue to add more locations with better equipment."

Other label printers who have invested in multiple locations manufacturing and marketing include the companies like Unique Photo Offset, Syndicate Printers, Paper Products and Sai Security among others.

Customer service is now acquiring new dimensions. Today end-users are demanding  just in time service along with delivery. This helps end-users to manage their inventory, production and achieve profitability. The parameters of vendor selection are not limited to price and quality.

I guess, this is the mantra for growth.

Chandan Khanna, Ajanta Packaging

If you have the patience and power to invest, then I believe multi-location manufacturing is highly beneficial for label print firms.

Gautam Kothari, Interlabels Industries
Having multiple locations has helped us reduce the time to procure material, and reach them. Furthermore, we’ve reduced the freight cost.

Amar Chhajed, Webtech Industries
It is one of the ways to grow. At the moment we have a mother plant in Navi Mumbai, but we hope to add units at different locations in India.