The key is to make Indian machines that can be flexible

Our flexo presses can print on film, paper, and on almost any substrate that exists, Rishab Kohli director, The Printer’s House (TPH) Orient, tells Rahul Kumar

09 May 2023 | By Rahul Kumar

Rishab Kohli director of TPH Orient

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

PW: Run lengths have shrunk and capacities to have multi-product portfolios with quick changes are desired. Do these sentiments reflect in your interaction with converters?  
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.

PW: 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.

PW: Producing good quality products is of the essence… Could you share some pointers 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.

PW: Most of the CEO’s energy is focused on taxes. How does one find the time to focus on business?
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 are assigned. My mentors and fellow directors also guided me in the same way as they were experienced CEOs of global companies.

PW: Most print-packaging companies we meet say that it’s essential to keep the machines running with wafer-thin or no-margin jobs. Isn’t it a risky strategy?
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-mtr/min also ensures the same increasing ROI and improved margins. All of this whilst keeping the capex low. This is the disruption that will hopefully help print-packaging companies expand margins.

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

PW: There’s a spike in the cost of spares. It has become a cause for concern. How would you explain these hikes?
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.

PW: Sustainability initiatives are on the rise. How do the technologies and manufacturing you deploy come closer to meeting the lofty sustainability goals?
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.

PW: 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 the printing and packaging needs.

PW: 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 of 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.

Rishab Kohli: At a glance

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 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 and hummus.