Pamex 2023: TPH Orient seeks to ensure quicker ROIs

Inkjet presses in development at orient target short-run jobs and makes it affordable for the Indian printer, says Rishab Kohli of TPH Orient, in an interview with Rahul Kumar

29 Mar 2023 | By Rahul Kumar

Rahul Kumar (RK): Can you share an update on the latest that you will be showing at Pamex 2023? What makes it a key ‘must-have’ kit for those looking to bolster their print production?
Rishab Kohli (RK):
TPH Orient is showing an inkjet commercial press, which is a must-have for short-run commercial jobs. Done in conjunction with Domino, we provide a press with best-in-market capex and opex for our commercial customers.

We are also showing our inline range of flexo presses for narrow, mid- and wide-width film and paper packaging printers. This is a must-have for packaging printers, be it for labels, film packaging, or paper packaging to ensure quicker ROIs than existing technologies. We are also displaying our folder-gluer running at 500-m/min faster than any other on the market today, ensuring best-in-market ROIs. Lastly, our chemical and plates division, NexGen, is also displaying its products.

RK: A little ahead, we have the big show – Interpack, Labelexpo Europe 2023, Drupa 2024. Would your company be part of these shows?
TPH Orient group is looking forward to displaying its products – flexo, inkjet, offset, folder-gluers, die-cutters, and consumables at Drupa 2024. We are investing heavily in this show and hope to represent our industry and India well.

RK: During our interaction with packaging companies, it is observed that run lengths have shrunk and capacities to have multi-product portfolios with quick changes are desired. Lower inventories have or will become the norm. Do these sentiments reflect in your interaction with the packagers? Does it reflect in your sales numbers?
Absolutely. Our inkjet and flexo printing presses reflect the same phenomenon. Inkjet presses in development at orient target short-run jobs and makes it affordable for the Indian printers, as we did in offset. Our flexo range of machines, be it narrow (340-mm), mid (650-mm), mid-wide (1000-mm) and wide (1500-mm) are a key solution for this phenomenon. Our 650- and 1,000-mm presses especially provide higher ROIs and lower costs per print as compared to gravure presses on mid- and short-runs.

RK: Also, technologically, have you been required to make any changes to your equipment to suit the changing packaging market demands?
We have added sleeve technology to our flexo presses making job changes quicker for plate change. What used to take hours can now be done in minutes.

RK: Producing good quality products is of the essence… If you could share some pointers – for example, the importance of understanding the packaging market or the need for training and education in sales, production, and customer service, for those looking to diversify?
The key is to make machines that can be flexible and easy to use. Our flexo presses for example can print on film, paper, and almost any substrate that exists. This along with attractive capex and opex make it extremely attractive for customers looking to diversify. 

RK: Most of the CEO’s energy is focused on taxes. How does one try to find one focused on the business? Any learnings from CEOs in other parts of the world? Do they ALSO micro-manage their business as much as Indian print and packaging CEOs?
Personally, I look at companies like Wipro which are diversified yet committed to quality and professionalism. As a CEO, I have diversified my group into packaging (folder-gluers and die-cutters), flexo, inkjet, solar energy, and defence/aerospace manufacturing. This was done through the ability to delegate and trust in my team to do the work they assigned. My mentors and fellow directors also guided me in the same way as they were experienced CEOs of global companies.

RK: Most print-packaging companies PrintWeek/WhatPackaging? meet, and talk about growth but also say it’s essential to keep the machines running with wafer-thin or no-margin jobs. Isn’t it a risky strategy – low profit margin leaves little room for error and may struggle to sustain itself if it encounters unexpected challenges or market downturns?
The market needs disruptions on the machine side so as to increase margins. Our goal for developing a flexo range of mid- and wide-width machines was to reduce cost per print for the majority of jobs currently running so as to increase margins for the customer. Additionally selling a faster folder-gluer at 500-m/min also ensures the same increasing ROI and improving margins. All of this whilst keeping the capex low. This is the disruption that will hopefully help print-packaging companies expand margins.

RK: The number of levels in a factory almost always directly correlates to more bottlenecks. One simple step that everyone should follow in their factory that can benefit our audience?
Set up systems rather than people. People will always create issues or human errors, but systems will not.

RK: Recently a few print companies informed us that there’s a spike in the cost of spares. An upward revision of service rates followed this. It’s become a cause for concern. How would you explain these hikes as a print/print converting equipment/ software supplier?
The cost of raw materials has increased causing this to happen. This is a concern which is another reason why technologies, such as flexo and faster ROI machines are needed so that margins aren’t affected too adversely. Additionally buying good quality machines from reputable manufacturers is the key. This reduces the need to change spares often as well.

RK: Sustainability initiatives are on the rise. As a result, for the packaging, sustainability intertwines. As a policy and programme, sustainability has become a new way to do business for customers and service providers in the packaging industry. One of them is finding packaging materials, printing and converting technologies that enhance sustainability. How do the technologies and manufacturing you deploy come closer to meeting lofty sustainability goals such as no waste, reuse and such? 
The TPH Orient group is a huge promoter of sustainable growth in India and the world as seen with our solar manufacturing division where we are one of the biggest solar panel manufacturers in the country today. In the packaging world, our flexo presses aim to promote faster ROIs on paper packaging and reduce the use of solvent-based inks used in gravure. This, we hope, will lead to a more sustainable society as a whole.

RK: How is your company better placed than its competitors?
Founded in 1946, the TPH Orient is a diversified group with one of the largest mechanical manufacturing facilities in the country today. The sheer economies of our scale, engineering expertise, history in print, infrastructure, and 10 branch offices with 60 service engineering and 40 agents worldwide give us a huge USP as a partner for your printing and packaging needs.

RK: And finally, the market is changing. Commercial print runs have declined, but it still offers better margins. The other good news on the packaging front is nothing is going to replace packaging as far as we know. But, with change, inevitably come challenges. How should the print and packaging industry prepare itself for 2023 and the foreseeable future?
Sustainability is the key. As a younger CEO with experience working in global markets, I have seen the impact sustainability has had around the world. That must and will translate to India in the years to come. As such, printers should look at sustainable alternative technologies to ensure they are in line with global demands.  


Rapid-Fire Qs

How do you prefer to start your day?
A cup of green tea early in the morning and make a list of what I need to achieve in the day.

How do you cope when things get hard?
I take myself out of the situation, exercise and re approach it with a fresh mind.

What’s the strangest thing in your refrigerator?
Nothing strange per se, but an unusual amount of sprouts, as I have that for breakfast every day.

What is on your bucket list?
Skiing in Japan.

What is your favourite memory?
A family vacation in Kenya with my parents when I was young.

Which is the book that you keep re-reading?
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

A movie or show do you keep rewatching?
Dead Poets Society.

What really frustrates you?

What would you do if you had a whole day to do anything you wanted?
Watch a play and play a sport.

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Lebanese, hummus, etc.