Making a perfect pitch for packaging

Gujarat Print Pack Publication's Ashish Patel is all set to guide his company through the exciting times that he visualises for the packaging segment.

20 Nov 2012 | By Rushikesh Aravkar & Noel D'Cunha

Gujarat Print Pack Publication’s CEO, Ashish Patel has a passion for travelling. He has travelled to almost 60 countries; in India right up to Kailash Mansarovar and Amarnath. “I like adventure travelling,” he said and his dream destination is to travel to the North Pole.

Patel is equally passionate about his print packaging business. In his office, within the confines of the 1-lakh sq/ft plant in Mehsana in Gujarat, his desk is clean – as a sign that all tasks  are disposed off the moment they are presented to him. “I do not like to keep anything pending,” he says.
And Patel is happy that in an increasingly competitive industry, his company is growing at a rate of 15% to 18% producing labels, cartons, laminates and shipper boxes. “This growth rate is in line with the performances of pharma, FMCG and food segments, which are growing at almost 20% and their packaging requirements are also increasing,” he says. 
Gujarat Print Pack supply packaging material to companies in the food, pharma and FMCG sector, which comprises 70% of the company’s business. Patel says, “Pharma, definitely is a segment that is growing, and the other is food. I travel a lot abroad, particularly to Europe and US. I see the amount of food products that's available in the malls there so when I compare those food malls with that of ours (which is about 10% in size), I visualise the huge scope that’s there for the food market in India.”
Exploring standards
The company’s growth is demonstrated in its purpose-built manufacturing facility, which is consistently targeted at high turnaround production schedule and short makeready times. “Every step of our operation in the plant is aimed at being as fast and efficient as possible,” says Patel. “Let me tell you, we were a certified ISO 9002 company in 1997, and probably the first company in printing packaging to be gain that certification.” 
Patel informs that an ERP system has been in place since 2000. “Over the years it has helped make our staff more efficient at processing tasks. It has helped us save money and make things easier for everyone,” says Patel. He has gone a step ahead, ordering a SAP, which is under implementation. “It’s part of a service-oriented architecture, which will give our business more flexibility. We hope to go live with SAP in January next year.”
Technology the bridge
Gujarat Print Pack has four departments: flexo, offset, gravure and corrugation. All the four departments are well-equipped as far as the press requirements (see box) are concerned, except for gravure. "The gravure division was started two years ago and has very basic facility," says Patel. However, he will soon be strengthening this operation, which is part of his bigger plans.
For its flexo pre-press needs, the company depends on its in-house conventional platemaking machine and the rest, which is almost 50%, is outsourced to Vee Pee Bengaluru and Shilp Ultratech, Ahmedabad. For offset, it has a violet CTP machine, Fuji Luxul VX 9600 with an online processor, where it fires around 1,000 TechNova plates per month. 
Patel says he intentionally did not invest in a flexo platesetter. "I do not think that it’s viable. It’s not only about cost. The technology changes so quickly that in five years your machine becomes outdated." 
Varied requirements
In offset, the company produces about eight to nine packaging jobs per day and in flexo about 25-30 jobs; with about 60% to 70% being repeat jobs but with small changes both in offset and flexo."We have all kinds of customers who demand 1,000 cartons to a million cartons," says Patel. He adds, “Moving into all the four segments of print for packaging was a step into a strong and growing market."
Today’s flexo technology has evolved from a moderate quality to high quality, thanks to the digital way of platemaking, says Patel. And one of Gujarat Print Pack’s biggest advantage  is its ability to do shrink sleeve labels using the flexo technology and deliver a job in two to three days. “I think very few make shrink sleeves on flexo presses,” he says. “It took us four years to master the technique of producing shrink sleeve labels and I must tell you it wasn’t an easy task. We have been using Esko’s software for a long time, even for the shrink sleeve label jobs."
Future plans
The company's client list includes Dabur, Pidilite, Nirma, Vadilal, Amul, P I Inds and Himalaya, among others. 
The company has acquired a site in Sanand in Ahmedabad and will be shifting the flexo and carton divisions there. It has earmarked an investment of Rs 20-crore, of which Rs 7-crore will be for label machinery. “It will be a state-of-the-art facility with new machines, and we hope to start the plant at the beginning of 2014.” 

Gujarat Print Pack factfile
Established 1997
Speciality Folding cartons, labels, E-fluted cartons and corrugated boxes
Equipment Heidelberg six-colour SM 102; Komori Lithrone 40 four-colour; Omet Flexi X330; Acquo Flex Instaprep; two Bobst die-cutting machines; a UV coating machine; BST inspection system; Omega (Turkey) folder-gluer machine, conventional flexo platemaking system; Fuji Luxul VX9600 violet platesetter with online processor
Staff 200