The label manufacturers association to congregate in the pink city on 16 july

Gururaj Ballarwad, chairman of the LMAI Conference 2015, in an interaction with Noel D’Cunha, talks about the Indian label industry and what will transpire at the Jaipur conference

15 Jul 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

You led Wintek Flexo to become one of the leading label players in India, before ITW Signode happened. Three years on, how has it been going?
In the last three years, we have added two machine and some more customers, which has generated increased revenue. In terms of productivity, we have grown by 7%-8%.
Our strategy for the last three years has been focussed on customers, and the service we provide has been our plus point. That’s how we have survived and grown.
Whenever we talk about profitability, it is said that this can be achieved by providing niche services and value addition?
I would tend to agree that our profitability is directly linked to the niche services and value additions we provide. According to me the value additions are, multiple foiling, screen printing all inline, multiple foiling inline, using screen printing units inline. Because, most of the jobs that we do are for international brands, so matching the international quality itself is a challenge and we are achieving that.
When you provide that kind of product you need to back up with the right kind of equipment?
We have configured the machines to carry out all the types of jobs I’ve mentioned above.
We tell customers that we have all these facilities and to use it. Investment is not as per the customers’ demand. We make the changes to our infrastructure first, and then tell the customer we have things that can produce products they need. And if there is any further requirement we add features on the machine.
The LMAI committee is preparing for the Jaipur conference. How will this conference be different from the earlier editions?
The committee’s first goal is to ensure that the event is successful. We have ensured that the attendance is good by arranging a good set of speakers and technical managers. We have made sure that the content is useful and relevant to our colleagues. We have added a guest speaker and panel discussion this time, which is a departure from the only presentations in the previous editions.
Who are some of the top ten label players who will be present?
I cannot pinpoint who are the top ten players attending, but I can tell you that all the top players in their respective fields, catering to FMCG, pharma, and food segments will be there.
What is the number of participants LMAI is looking at?
At present we have 130+ registrations, which includes converters and suppliers.
Who are the sponsors – and what will they be doing?
There are around 23 sponsors. As a sponsor, they will be part of discussions and presentations. 
What are the technology focus areas?
The theme of the conference is – Changing the paradigm and innovation. We will be discussing topics ranging from flexo to digital. All the sessions will be technical and informative, there will be good discussions and interactive sessions.
In 2012, you had said that hybrid technology consisting of gravure, offset, flexo and screen printing will be the game-changing technology for label printing in India. What are the developments you have seen happen in the last couple of years?
It is coming. One or two converters have already installed. You see, few people want to reduce cost, avoiding foiling by using gravure, and also add other features on labels. This is what the customers are demanding.
Many contend that the per capita consumption of labels in India is just about 0.25 to 0.30 sq/metres and even if that doubles, it will double the labels demand. One, do you agree? Do you see signs that that the label industry is ready to take on the challenges of the increased work?
We are definitely growing and we are ready for global markets. There are about 350+ converters and printers from the commercial segments who are setting up label converting plants. Two in Bengaluru, Magnum Offset and Rajhans, have already set up label plants.
Going ahead, I see at least 10 converters joining the label segment year on year.
You’ve been at the Labelexpo Europe 2013. Which of the technologies impressed you the most and what do you expect to happen at Labelexpo 2015?
Technology remains the same. It is the permutations and combinations. You are adding gravure with inkjet. There’s the standalone digital, and also on flexo label printing machines. More automation is happening.
In 2013, we had not much of investments per set, hence did not focus much on technology, barring a few finishing equipment and adding features to the existing ones.
At the Labelexpo Europe 2015, I expect to see more machine with the hybrid technology variant.
In 2015, I think there will be more machines with hybrid technology variant with offset, digital etc.
Your take on the packaging scene?
Packaging cannot saturate. As long as the product has to be sold, it will have to be packaged, and labels are the most decorative parts of the products, which also drives consumer’s interest in the product. If the product is popular, it will continue to be sold.