Mihir Shah: We have launched a low-cost corrugated bed

As the industry tackles the impact of Covid-19, PrintWeek asks Mihir Shah of Aryan Paper, about the company’s approaches to business during the pandemic.

04 May 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

Mihir Shah

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business thus far?

The impact on the business has been significant for our customers in sectors like textile, white goods and heavy industries. However, sectors like FMCG, eCommerce, pharma have had a lesser impact. Exports to certain regions remain strong.

We have launched a corrugated bed which is low-cost, scalable, easy to assemble, compact to transport and 100% recyclable. The bed is the brain child of my sister Rhea Shah. She is an architect from Harvard and shall be proceeding to Europe to do her PhD. She came up with this concept when the outbreak began and our team consisting of Sunil Shah, Param Gandhi, Tabrez Shaikh and myself assisted her in developing the concept to first prototype within four days. Commercial production was rolled out in two days time. We are trying our bit to contribute to the Covid-19 challenge by providing this solution for quarantine centres. We have committed to donate 1,000 beds to govt agencies as well as the navy.

In the short term, how are you assessing the risks and planning for the possible impact?

Waste paper sourcing in terms of availability, volumes and consistency has been a challenge. There is significant drop in domestic waste paper collections. Some defaults have happened in suppliers of imported waste paper, which is a concern. Waste paper prices are up by more than USD 100 to USD 125 a tonne, which poses a question on survival of the industry. The raw material costs increase has caused significant pain and poses a huge challenge in these times. Paper industry shall need government assistance in terms of extra export incentives to compensate for the drop in domestic industry offtake. The impact of the rupees collapse against dollar also poses a huge challenge in costs.

Some businesses have acted, asking staff to work from home, doing daily temperature checks, distributing critical tasks across offices, and restricting travel. What steps have you undertaken?

We have undertaken many steps as per guidelines laid down by the government. Some of them are daily temperature checks, 100% sanitiser spraying on all workers, staff, drivers and vehicles at the entry point. Masks are given to everyone who enters. A special team is equipped with sanitisers, temperature guns and other equipment for continuous monitoring inside the plant.

How is your company staying in touch with your partners / customers?

Our dedicated sales team connects to all partners and customers via videoconferencing, phones, etc. We are doing our bit to ensure none of our customers face any downtime due to non-availability of corrugated packaging. We are one of the very few integrated players in the packaging industry with our own paper mill and two automatic box lines. This makes us one of the strongest supply chain partners with guaranteed supply of boxes with unlimited paper availability even in a lockdown or any other challenging situation.

Do you invest in health care, and is there a robust system in place?

We have made available complete healthcare services for all our employees. Everyone is completely insured.

Confluence of creativity and technology will be the key to crafting a successful future in print. One creative print project which can make a difference you?

We have replaced plastic with paper. This is helping the environment by eliminating single use plastic air pillows, air bubble films with 100% recycled paper. We are doing our bit by offering 100% recycled and 100% recyclable solutions to various industries

One suggestion for the government?

Government has to support the paper recycling industry by giving extra incentives for exports. Paper recycling industry should be recognised as an essential part of the circular economy and should be given credit for the same.