Pratham goes big with 188-sqm space at Drupa 2024

Pratham bets big and aims to double its numbers. And a big presence at Drupa. Datta Deshpande, chairman and CEO at Pratham Technologies, is gung-ho about Pratham’s growth in business

07 Feb 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

(l) Datta Deshpande, chairman and CEO at Pratham Technologies

In FY 2023, Pratham closed the year with Rs 42-crore. What is the number you are looking at for FY 2024?
We hope to close the year 2024  with a turnover of Rs 75-crore.

Where  is your major sales coming from?
75% of our business is now export to Europe and America, 25% of which is in USA.  In terms of equipment sales, we are despatching three outsert machines per month. Overall, Pratham has despatched 350+ machines, small and big.

What do you attribute this growth to?
It’s mainly because of our entry into Europe. Till 2023, we were focussing on USA. We turned our attention to Europe, and we received good response. Further, UK and Ireland is given us tremendous response.

These are tough, regulatory markets?
We knew that two of our competitors are Germans. So right from the beginning our focus has been in quality.

Can you explain?
We understood that what the export markets need is good products, products that will not break-down, because any downtime is considered as a loss for them. While they do weigh aftersales service, but the basic thrust is on having a kit that has a high pedigree for non-stop operation. This fact is what  made us produce high-quality machines, and it is this mantra that we hammer into our production team.

You have built a new plant too?
We wanted to become world class from every angle – world class products, people, systems, infrastructure. Our plant is open for visit by any one interested in our machine. I can assure you that it’s a world class facility.

In January 2021 we moved to this new facility, and once you enter, you will feel that you have  entered a German plant. The environment within the plant also has an effect on the people working in it. The thinking becomes international. And every one of them is proud that we are already selling worldwide, and that Pratham has become a brand entity.

What made you do what you did – becoming a world class manufacturer, in your words?
I was very clear. We do not want to compete on price,  and when that happens you look beyond China. We  do not see Chinese manufacturers as our competitors. We look at German companies as our competitors. That has changed our entire perspective – if you have a good product, you can get good price for the product. I am not saying that the Chinese machineries are not good, but my guess is the best ones do not come to India.

Have you in any way observed that the Indian printing and packaging is going slow on their Capex investment?
Yes, particularly in our field like outsets and insert and leaflet folding.

Post-Covid-19, the pharma companies in US, Europe and around UK, decided to get their supplies locally manufactured largely because of the logistic issues. Hence, the growth of their domestic market demanded more machines. The outsert and insert suppliers in Canada and Europe had a good growth post-Covid. See, all said and done, pharmaceutical companies operating in Ireland UK, Canada, Germany and USA are still largest.

But the Indian pharma segment is also growing?
Yes. There is domestic demand for both original and generic medicines. In the last two years, I think every converter serving the insert-outsert product to pharma, has a Pratham machine.

What are you doing at Pamex?
Now world has gone much ahead. Gone are the days when customers used to come to exhibitions with their check books and sign orders. Today, order booking has become just one part. For us, exhibitions have become an opportunity to meet our customers, keep our brand high.

That’s the reason we are going to Drupa this year. At Pamex, we are also promoting our presence at Drupa. Our last appearance at Drupa was in 2008.

Please share your Drupa 2024 plan?
At Drupa, we have booked a 188-sqm stand. In the field of insert-outserts, we are at par with the global leaders. But at Drupa, we will be showing a robotic tray packaging machine. It will be a first-time innovation, perhaps, could be the first in the world.

What does it do? And how was it conceived?
It’s an end-of-the-line packaging system. Today, in Europe and USA, there is a human resource crunch. It’s become one of their main headache. We saw this as an opportunity to develop an automatic machine which can replace human intervention. I think this space is niche, high-tech business where you will need a lot of AI, robotics, robotic programming driving automation.

That said, at Pamex we have introduced a double taping machine for leaflets. What used to be a centre-taped, can now be taped on both the sides of the leaflets. It is an option that we have made available for the market.