Pankaj Bhardwaj: "Sustainability and compliance are mega trends"

Pankaj Bhardwaj, senior director and general manager, Avery Dennison spoke to Rahul Kumar about the slitting unit in Kolkata. Bhardwaj says, "we strongly believe in the latent potential that eastern part of the Indian subcontinent offers. Between the Eastern part of India and Bangladesh, we are talking of serving 500 million people and a demography that’s upwardly mobile and growing. Therefore we are very optimistic about the future of this investment."

The Kolkata DC will be contributing to Avery's longterm plans of serving all the businesses of the Avery group, including rolls materials, sheet materials, graphic materials as well as reflective materials.

10 May 2019 | By Rahul Kumar

Pankaj Bhardwaj, senior director and general manager, Avery Dennison

RK: Where do you think the label industry is heading?
PB: Label industry continues to benefit from India’s growth and increase in consumption. For self-adhesive labels, technology transfer from alternate technology has further aided this growth. With a rising middle-class population, higher disposable income and awareness towards hygiene and compliance, the self-adhesive label industry shall continue to see a positive shift in demand. The label industry clearly has a bright future, provided we remain efficient, innovative and agile to evolving customer needs.

RK: What are the technology and non-technology skillsets needed for success in a demanding industry?
PB: Given that the PS label industry requires a specific set of skills for printers and converters, the availability of talent is always a challenge. In order to counter this challenge, we have tied up with the label industry association for training and development of students, who are absorbed by industry after their course completion. In addition to this, we are also working with SIES college to give students hands-on training on a narrow-web flexo press as part of their curriculum. While a lot is being done, a lot needs to be done in this regard.

RK: In this sense, what is the Avery Dennison way - and how do you manage it on a day-to-day basis in India?
PB: At Avery Dennison, we have deeply ingrained a culture of learning and development for both technical and managerial staff. I am proud to share that we are the only 'Great Place To Work With' certified company in the packaging space in the country. This clearly shows our commitment towards developing skilled professionals for label industry.

RK: Why is the new centre in Pune so important for India?
PB: Pune's centre, also known as, the Avery Dennison Innovation & Knowledge Centre has been the focal point for new product development as well as knowledge dissemination in the PS label industry. We have continually been augmenting our capability to train on end-to-end conversion process including labels and graphic materials at this centre.

Avery Dennison announced the launch of I.Lab in Pune

RK What is the USP of this centre?
PB: This centre houses a full-fledged printing infrastructure to showcase this process. The latest capability added is called the I. Lab (intelligent laboratory).

Pankaj Bhardwaj - at a glance

Where are you based?
Based in Gurgaon, the city with possibly the least travel time to work (an ironical smile).

How many staff do you have reporting to you?
Have a total of eleven persons reporting. Mostly, young professionals dispensing of different responsibilities spanning from labels and tapes business's sales, business development, marketing to finance, operations, supply chain and production. I am really proud of this team's passion for customer centricity.

One vehicle wrap application that impressed you?
Was swayed by a colleague's Tesla wrapped with a beautiful purple coloured Avery Supreme Wrapping Film. An absolute stunning beauty.

One RFID tech tip which you know?
It’s amazing to learn this new framework that helps understand digital emotion for shoppers called ''Digital Emotional Intelligence (DEQ)”. In a world that’s increasingly cyber-physical connected, products can create emotional bonding with shoppers through technology - and this starts with RFID.

Which areas in the Kerala Floods did Avery Dennison serve?
We are building nine houses from scratch for families whose houses were unfortunately destroyed during the floods. They are being built all around Kochi city with eight already handed over. I personally met a few of the beneficiary families and it was a very humbling experience.

What’s your sustainable USP?
We commissioned an in-house solar plant at our Pune plant which covers the entire rooftop. It shall help us significantly increase green energy in line with our sustainability objectives. For the larger good of the industry, we launched Liner Recycling program in India, last year. The program is already signed by the likes of Himalaya, who can now get their liner recycled to create tissue paper.

One simple thing whereby our industry can work without waste?
The industry could definitely think about switching to higher length rolls and reduce downtime and changeover related waste, without any significant investment or stretch. It’s a low hanging fruit. 

Which Avery Dennison factory took your breath away?
Our Pune plant is very efficient and has a state-of-the-art infrastructure. Avery Dennison's Luxembourg plant is also a sight to see from an automation point of view.

What’s your favourite Avery Dennison’s product?
Near-Field Communication (NFC) labels for customer engagement and sensorial collection for shelf appeal are amongst my favourite.

RK: Is the I.Lab, the first intelligent label innovation space in the Asia Pacific and Sub Saharan Africa region?
PB: Yes. The new Avery Dennison I.Lab is an interactive facility that provides customers and partners with hands-on experiences, live demonstrations and technical support, to help converters and partners explore the opportunities surrounding intelligent label solutions and RFID adoption. It is a fully immersive space, taking visitors through the entire supply chain from back-end to front-end environments. Visitors can experience first-hand how Avery Dennison’s intelligent labelling solutions capture and store information and wirelessly transmit data to make businesses more informed.

RK: Which print verticals (apparels, automobiles, FMCG) is Avery Dennison seeing growth?
PB: Well, factually, we are seeing growth all around. A few sub-segments within FMCG have intrinsic organic growth while others are helped by our efforts in helping brand owners make a more informed choice of using self-adhesive label over the other options.

RK What kind of bench-marking and performance measurement systems do you think our industry needs to adopt?
PB: One of the fallouts of high growth is that it may mask inefficiencies. Our industry needs to set high aspirations on leveraging growth and become more efficient and productive. Setting high aspirations on operational and capital efficiency is an important imperative. Additionally, sustainability and compliance are mega trends and each responsible corporate must measure its progress.

RK: As an industry are we moving too slowly? 
PB: While we are doing well in serving current industry demand, we can do more on innovation and increasing the size of the pond. 

RK How should our industry plan to diversify and adapt with the changing times?
PB: We must put efforts in an individual capacity as well as collaborate to improve technology penetration. This market needs fit-for-purpose, indigenous and customised solutions which can only be rendered by fostering creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

RK: What kind of management (working style) style should we adopt to help us stay at the pinnacle of success?
PB: What works best is to be agile and customer-centric. At Avery, we keep customers at the heart of everything we do and this philosophy is deep-rooted in company values. Our success mantra has been to render the best possible service to our customers at each touch point and in turn deliver superior customer experience.

Three favourites - Pankaj Bhardwaj

Favourite adda:
 I love hanging out at Roots Cafe at Leisure Valley in Gurgaon. It is like being amidst nature.

Favourite authors: Obsessed with Malcolm Gladwell and Amish Tripathi's writing and have grown up reading the poetry of Dinkar, Ghalib and Milton.

Favourite films: Shawshank Redemption and 3 Idiots. I can watch both films, “N” number of times