Covid-19 or Corona virus that has struck populations in countries across the globe creating a scare that has impacted adversely most affluent economies in the world. Governments are taking very strong measures to curb the proliferation as also find remedies for curing and containing this virus which is already declared a pandemic. Increasing numbers of affected people and deaths have created an alarming situation whereby vast geographical areas are being cordoned off, schools are shut, travel has become restricted, congregation of people is being restricted and businesses are suffering. The global printing industry at large is also facing the brunt of the impact. Important printing events where major buying decisions are taken and seminars that enhance knowledge besides providing networking opportunities have been postponed. Millions have been invested in planning the event by the event organisers, exhibitors and the visitors. Some of the important events that have taken responsible decisions to postpone in view of public safety concerns are as below.

Sri Lanka Print 2020 Colombo
FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona
Labelexpo SEA Bangkok
LMAI Digital Label printing event Mumbai

PackPlus South 2020 Hyderabad India

Interpack Dusseldorf Germany
Drupa Dusseldorf Germany
FESPA Brazil 2020 Sao Paolo
Fespa Global Print Expo 2020 Madrid
FINAT European Label Forum 2020, Rome is under consideration

The label industry has been greatly impacted by the spreading virus. China and Italy are two major producers and suppliers of label manufacturing equipment, both countries have been hit badly. Covid-19 originated in China and Italy became one of the largest sufferers of this spreading pandemic with tremors of this being felt by label printers across the globe. Even though China has indicated containment of the virus at their end yet since the virus has spread to other countries, governments around the world continue to make travel advisories and entry restrictions to contain the spread in their respective countries.

These travel restrictions or self-control in avoiding travel has greatly impacted the events business. With news of Covid-19 spreading to Spain; FINAT, the European association for the self-adhesive label industry postponed their FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona. According to Chris Ellison, President of FINAT “Apart from the public health risk, the virus is now also spilling over into the real economy, and members of the label industry are taking measures to contain the risk for their staff’s well-being and their business’ continuity. In some cases, more far-reaching measures are taken than those recommended or enforced by local governments and public health institutes.” He further adds, “We are also reviewing the scenarios for the European Label Forum in Rome next June”.

Tarsus which was looking forward to a successful second Labelexpo southeast Asia at Bangkok has also announced its postponement. According to Lisa Milburn, managing director of Labelexpo Global Series, “We have taken the difficult decision to postpone Labelexpo Southeast Asia 2020 in May due to coronavirus/COVID-19.

This is an unprecedented situation and given the vast amount of preparation that goes into our shows, not a decision we have taken lightly. However, the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is our top priority, and working on the advice of our local partners and BITEC, we feel the best course of action is to postpone the show until September.” 

Drupa is the world’s leading trade fair for printing technologies. The last Drupa saw 1828 exhibitors from 54 countries, 260,165 visitors from 183 countries with the largest group from outside Germany coming from India totaling at 5% of the total visitors.  

Until a few days back the Drupa website stated that the event will be held on the stipulated dates and that the organisers were taking adequate steps to screen the visitors as also to sanitize the venue for safety of all. Then on 13th of March 2020 came the press release from Messe Dusseldorf stating that both Drupa and Interpack are postponed. 

A resilient Indian label industry has had its own share of voes over the past few years. Every time it is faced with a challenging situation it recovers to face yet another tough situation. First came the demonetization, hardly had the effect of that had worn off came the implication of GST.

The industry took its time to reconcile and adjust itself on to a growth path but as 2019 was coming to an end the country was facing an economic slowdown stemming the rate of growth. The resilience of this industry segment still makes it go on, sometimes rapidly and other down at a slower pace. Now the Corona virus has brought with it a new kind of situation whereby travel is curtailed, and expansions have gone on hold. With the Indian label industry starting its move in to digital label printing in line with trends in the western world, India’s label association LMAI had planned its 2nd event, “”DIGITAL PRINTING IN LABELS – THE WAY FORWARD” to be held in the evening of March 16th, 2020 at Hotel ITC Maratha Mumbai. The interest in the event got a huge response and was fully sold out two weeks in advance. As the situation of Corona Virus became alarming the LMAI management decided to postpone the event. Amit Sheth founder member of LMAI requesting postponement had said, “The way it is seen it is better to postpone the event. I think this is a National concern!” Commenting on the cancellation Kuldip Goel President LMAI said, “It is so unfortunate that immense effort had gone in preparation but for a humanitarian cause, it was needed to take precaution.!”

While the corona virus goes on unabated it is hoped that the containment happens soon bringing relief to the vast humanity that has got affected. While efforts go on by health authorities globally to find a vaccine, yet it is prudent for all to practice safety as suggested by bonafide governments and certified health authorities.

TLWritten by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India March 2020

At the last, Indian label industry event, “LMAI  Conference” in 2017 at Jaipur I promised to write the 2nd part of my first article titled  “History of the Indian Label Industry” which I wrote in 2006. It is available in this blog at https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2010/08/history-of-indian-label-industry.html
I have now written the 2nd part. This is brief reporting so I plan to complete a book on the subject with a lot more expanded information in the near future. In a large country with industry spread over such a vast area and a huge population, it is difficult to chronicle all in few words. Being a long article, the part 2 of History of the Indian Label Industry will be posted on my blog in a series of four articles. The first part of series numbered  2A is as below;

The first decade of new millennium was very eventful for the Indian label industry. After 2006 a global economic recession surfaced and kept growing, affecting businesses across the world.

It even impacted many industries in India where we saw companies reducing manpower, which in turn affected spending in all segments of retail. Surprisingly while printers in India as well, were complaining of recessionary trends and difficulty in operations, yet the Indian label industry overall, continued to grow steadily. Capacity enhancement kept on being made, though it was a little reduced. The Indians became indulgent not only as label printers but also as diverse product and equipment suppliers to label printing companies. For the first time an Indian company Precise Graphics, later renamed PGI Technologies in 2005 produced a magnetic cylinder that worked on a label press. Dhiresh Ghosalia led Jesons, manufacturers of emulsion pressure sensitive adhesives for the label industry at their large factory in Daman, expanded and moved northwards in India and setup an additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee. Kaygee Papers was promoted by Pranay Godha in 1997 to produce silicone coated release papers. In 2001 they made a Joint Venture, Kaygee Loparex Pvt. Ltd. with Loparex, a member of UPM group and world’s largest commercial Siliconiser. They continued to grow and became an important part of the Indian label industry in the first decade. In 2015 Loparex assumed 100% of the company and rechristened it as Loparex India Pvt. Ltd. In August 2007 Diehard Dies, based in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, started operations to become an indigenous manufacturer of flexible dies for the printing, packaging and label industry. By middle of 2019 Acme Rolltech a company led by 3 young entrepreneurs Parag Patel, Sandeep Sharma and Parag Koradiya started the first Indian facility manufacturing Ceramic Anilox Rolls. Sandeep, came to the partnership with 15 years of experience having worked with Avery Dennison, Kurz India and Domino Printech, Parag Patel and Parag Koradiya came from entrepreneurial background of manufacturing Gravure Cylinders. 

In 2007 the largest indigenous labelstock producer Ajay Mehta’s SMI Coated Products initiated an expansion program that would eventually place SMI as an undisputed leader in labelstock production by a wholly Indian owned company, not only in India but also in many international markets.

They procured a 6540 square meter plot in MIDC, Ambernath near Mumbai, constructed 2200 square meter shed, shifted all plant and machinery from Daman to Ambernath, added two silicon coating machines and one Acrylic Coating machine. In 2014 they increased the production area by another 3000 square meters and installed a Hot Melt coating line, following it up by installing yet another hotmelt adhesive coater later.  

In 2017 they purchased the adjoining plot admeasuring 9820 Square meters, constructed 1000 square meters to install Schaeffer moving racks for better handling of an increasing volume of goods in their expanding stores.

In 2019 they completed construction of another 3000 square meters shed and moved all coating machines to new premises along with a new emulsion adhesive coating tandem machine to do inline siliconizing and adhesive coating in a single pass, 1350 mm wide to run at a speed of 150 meters per minute, reaching an installed capacity of 19 million square meters per month. They celebrated their 25 years in grand style by hosting over 200 guests to visit their works besides take part in the celebrations. Other indigenous labelstock manufacturers also grew in their own respective regions. Stayon Papers and Sticon in Hyderabad, Million papers and NG papers in Chennai, Capri Coating Solutions in Mumbai, Shree Arihant, STP Paper, Gj Industries and many more in Delhi were some of the active and visible manufacturers. Some of the earlier leaders in the Labelstock manufacturing segment pulled back or shifted focus in view of depleting margins, intense competition and unviable credit terms.

Indian label press manufacturers transformed in this period to produce label presses that were comparable to international products and made their mark not only in India but internationally as well.

Amit Ahuja led Multitec is the front runner who had exhibited their first modular rotary flexo label press in partnership with Abhay Datta of Datta Press Delhi at the first India Label show in 2002 at Nehru Centre Mumbai. The association of Multitec with Datta came to an end around 2008. Multitec redesigned their label press as a competitive product with all basic features. After renaming the press, “Ecoflex” they relaunched it. Two year hence they launched yet another version of their label press and continued to upgrade their offerings and grow phenomenally. By the end of 2018 they had achieved outstanding success producing label presses from a quality accredited design and a fully integrated manufacturing facility spread over 26,000 square meters. At the time of writing this article their website reports having sold over 300 Label presses to over 25 countries through a team of agents spread across the world. Other Indian press manufacturers who also made their mark are mostly from Faridabad, south of Delhi, the same city as Multitec. They are Alliance Printech, Webtech Engineering, NBG Printographic Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., M Tech Industries, etc. Other than these, Ahmedabad based RK label machines claimed to have sold 150 rotary plus 600 flatbed label presses and Noida based Jandu Engineers had sold about 135 rotary flexo presses. Jandu is also a leading manufacturer of coating and laminating machines and has a large presence amongst local labelstock manufacturers and according to Baldev Singh Jandu, they have till date sold over 150 coaters.

The Indian label market was growing at a steady double-digit growth rate and interest of international label fraternity in India also kept on growing with it. Avery Dennison who had found success in the country had in 2007 invested in land admeasuring 22 acres at Ranjangaon near Pune for expansion.

In 2008 the facility was with a one-meter wide hotmelt coater having capability to run at 500 meters per minute with inline silicon coating, this compared to the first one-meter coater at Gurgaon that could run at 250 meters per minute. The then global CEO and President of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough specially flew in to inaugurate the facility. In 2010 Raj Srinivasan who had established Avery’s foothold in India returned to USA handing over reigns of the Indian operations to Anil Sharma. New wave of professionalism descended in the working of Avery; more expansion followed with installation of a 1.5 meters hot melt coater in 2011 at Pune. In the same year a slitting facility was commissioned in Bangalore in 2011 to serve the southern customers effectively. To help the cause of a limited number of trained press operators in India in face of a growing label press population,  Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre was also set up in Bangalore to train people for becoming press operators, but later in 2018 the centre was moved to Pune, next to their research and development centre. In 2014 an emulsion coater of 1.5meter width was added at the Pune facility. In 2015 Anil Sharma was elevated for bigger responsibilities and handed over charge to his teammate Pankaj Bhardwaj. Amongst international Labelstocks companies UPM Raflatac had established a substantial foothold with their slitting facilities in India while Lintec, Ritrama, flexcon and a few others sold through agents or directly.

Increase in number of visitors to labelexpo Europe in Brussels was a positive indicator of a growing label market in India and the interests of printers to invest in globally acknowledged label presses. In 2005 Weldon Celloplast Ltd. was the lone Indian exhibitor and by 2011 edition of the show, the number of Indian exhibitors had swelled to fourteen, up from four in the previous show in 2009.

At Labelexpo Europe 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 in 2011. The number just went on increasing, there were more Indians then before at successive labelexpos.

In 2007 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels Tarsus announced their acquisition of India Label show, a show that was set up by Anil Arora and his wife Neetu Arora.

The next edition of India Label show 2008 in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was held in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Mumbai and in the middle of a huge recession, yet the show stood its ground proving the strength of growing Indian label market. In 2010 the show was rechristened as Labelexpo India. The show owners Tarsus UK made a strategic alliance with Indian Label association LMAI for the event and to have an awards night and a gala dinner organised by Tarsus at every Labelexpo India. LMAI was to conduct the LMAI label awards which became a regular feature thereafter. In 2009 under the leadership of Vivek Kapoor, the longest serving president of LMAI who completed 3 terms of 2 years each, it was also planned to hold biennial LMAI conference in alternate years, the trend has carried on till date. The first LMAI conference was held in Hotel park Hyatt Goa in 2011 and the event grew to be held again in 2013 at Grand Hyatt Goa and at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra in 2017. 

In 2010 leading global associations came together under the aegis of FINAT and formed the federation of global associations called L8. Later with one more association joining it was renamed L9, the confederation of nine leading international label associations.

The alliance consisted of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America, LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Sandeep Zaveri of Total Prints took over the presidentship of LMAI in 2015 and handed over the charge to Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics in 2017.  At the 2017 conference in Agra 550 delegates attended making it the largest gathering of label printers at a single conference. A proud moment for me at the Agra conference in 2017 came when I was announced as the first and only recipient till then of a lifetime award for support to the Indian Label industry.  

In 2016 Labelexpo was moved to the Expo Mart in Greater Noida outside Delhi, a part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) due to non-availability of dates at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

In 2018 also it was held at the Expo Mart as the venue, Pragati Maidan in Delhi, was under redevelopment. In 2018 for the first time LMAI hosted a very successful L9 meet in India on the sidelines of Labelexpo India.

The evolution of label industry in India has been a continuous process, from the earliest days of screen-printed labels in sheeted format in the 1970s to roll form labels to be converted on very narrow width flatbed Japanese presses and then over to rotary flexographic printing label presses in the early 1990s.

Until the end of 1990s the flexo printing process used water-based inks with hot air drying.

The polymer plate making technology was also evolving. The process was evolving but it had shortcomings. It was faster than the flat bed machines but lacked consistency due to drying and viscosity changing issues. Better prepress and improvements in platemaking technologies brought flexo printing to almost at par in quality to offset printing. This led the rapid growth in flexographic label printing. As demand escalated, investments in equipment also witnessed increase with printers demanding wider presses for increased productivity and reduced wastages. By end of the last century UV curable inks became available and changed the way flexo printing grew. Originally, UV technology was introduced to the world in the 1960s. The drying effect for water-based inks is brought about by evaporation of volatile components. The required energy is supplied via IR-radiation and/or hot air. A loss in the dried coating thickness will appear depending on the amount of the evaporated components. The volatile components must be removed by an extraction. However, in case of the UV inks, the drying effect is due to polymerization, i.e. on cross-linking of long molecular chains. The energy required for cross-linking is supplied via UV radiation. For 100 % solid body systems the thickness of the dry coating corresponds to the thickness of the wet coating. There are no losses due to evaporation. By 2010 new UV inks came with enhanced ink transfer properties as well as faster reactivity to UV curing, meaning speeds over 200 meters/min. were achievable. Towards end of 2009 the conventional UV started to evolve to low power consuming LED UV with longer life lamps that had surfaced internationally, though the system had yet to be widely accepted in India due to non-availability of parts and inks, but it was being investigated and expected to grow substantially in demand or replaced on existing presses.  Some of the international equipment manufacturers had already introduced alternatives such as LED UV and even Electron Beam curing technology as an alternative. From the middle of first decade of 21st century onwards there grew a demand for high end hybrid presses with increased features like automatic registration, multiple printing processes for combination printing and decoration capabilities. As sustainability and environmental concerns became an imperative; waste reduction, and waste management became a necessity when an investment in equipment was being made.End of Part 2A, To be continued…
The remaining parts will be posted in gaps of 7-10 days 
Note: No one is authorised to reproduce, copy or reprint this article until permitted by the author in writing. 
Written by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Indian Label industry has for the last many years been registering steady double-digit growth. The industry largely consists of family-owned small or medium-sized enterprises employing 1-5 label presses. A handful of larger enterprises have surfaced in recent times due to acquisitions or mergers by multinational companies.

The size still needs to become bigger to reach the size of large international label producers. Ironically some of the upcoming existing companies in this segment who were growing and appeared to become large players, opted to be acquired rather than go it alone. We do see some Indian owned label companies now rising from the crowds to become evident in growth beyond the average size. It is hoped that they will also not opt to be acquired, we do need indigenous companies that will grow and prove their mettle. There is an imperative need for these companies to break away from being single owner or family driven businesses to become professionally-managed entities. They need to optimise production processes, manage wastages, invest in workflow automation, etc. leading to continuous growth and better profitability. Stronger bottom lines in the industry is sure to enable printers investing in expansion and employment of new technologies leading to evolution of the industry, presenting state of art products. A large population and expanding retail trade are driving the demand for labels. The industry that originated in just the metro cities is now spreading to the interiors of India, there is need for further growth as printers realise the need to be multilocational to be able to service customers in a large country more efficiently. At this time the exhibition Labelexpo is looked at with interest as it provides knowledge not only to existing printers but also to new entrants. It showcases the best of indigenous and international label production equipment, materials and consumables at one place. India’s label association LMAI not only supports this important exhibition but also adds value to it by organising events on the side lines, making it worthwhile for their printer and supplier members.

LMAI, L9 meet: L9 is the informal platform of leading global trade associations for the labels and narrow-web industry which was founded in 2009 for the purposes of communicating regional issues and developments to the global industry, identifying and jointly examining issues of transnational concern to industry members, sharing information, developing and recommending best Industry practices regarding efficiency,

training, technology, safety and environmental matters, recognizing Industry achievements and pursuing such other programmes and activities as may promote and better the industry worldwide. The alliance consists of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America), LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Every year L9 meets in one of the member association countries. At the last 7th L9 meet in Beijing China it was decided that LMAI India will host the next meet. LMAI has made elaborate plans. It is now scheduled to be a 4-day prestigious global meet that will include multiple events and agendas including Label Exchange Program, L9 Board Meeting, Industry visits, Labelexpo visit, networking and leisure activities. The event will also cover a wide range of subjects within the label industry including sourcing and consumption of raw material, future demands, quality parameters, new machinery, innovative technologies and global trends. 

Spearheading the program LMAI past President Sandeep Zaveri says, “We are very excited to welcome the L9 participants to India” acknowledging support of his LMAI colleagues Vivek Kapur, Amit Sheth, Ajay Mehta, Harveer Sahni, President-Kuldip Goel, Rajesh Nema, Ramesh Deshpande and Dinesh Mahajan in organising this important event, he further adds, “It is an opportunity for all our label printer friends to meet international label printing leaders and hear them on various ascents like recycling sustainability.” The L9 meet and related events are sponsored by SMI Coated Products as main sponsor and Intergraphic Pulisi. 

LMAI Avery Dennison Label Awards Night: This prestigious Label industry biennial event has

traditionally been organised by Tarsus, the organiser of Labelexpo India along with the show Labelexpo. This is the first time that the event is being organised by LMAI under the leadership of their President Kuldip Goel. LMAI Avery Dennison Awards night will take place on the first day of Labelexpo India on 22nd of November 2018 at Expo Mart Greater Noida, UP India. It is expected to be a memorable event full of information, presentations, entertainment and global networking opportunities as the international visitors who will come for L9 meet will also be present. The award categories are as follows;
·       Flexo Category 
·       Letterpress Category
·       Offset Category 
·       Combination Printing Category  
·       Digital Printing Category 
·       Screen Printing Category
·       Rotogravure Category (under Gold Category)
·       Booklets & Coupon Labels Category (under Gold Category)
·       Innovation Category (under Gold Category)
·       Green Sustainable Category
The entry to the awards night function is restricted to either invitees or paid ticket holders.
PRICES AND BOOKING;
·       Individual places – per seat price – Rs. 3999
·       For LMAI members the cost is subsidised to Rs. 2999 Sponsors for this gala night are as follows;

  • Avery Dennison           Gold Sponsor
  • Vinsak                          Silver Sponsor
  • Nilpeter                        Silver Sponsor
  • SMI Coated Products   Silver Sponsor
  • OMET and Dupont      Silver sharing Sponsor
  • Intergraphic Pulisi        Silver Sponsor
  • Gallus/Heidelberg        Silver Sponsor
  • J N Arora and Co.        Silver Sponso

Labelexpo India: Labelexpo India is scheduled to be held at Expo Martsharing , Greater Noida, UP India from 22nd to 25th November 2018. It is the largest event for the label and package printing industry in South Asia – with more products, more launches and more live demonstrations! The exhibition will display Digital and conventional printing presses, High tech label and packaging materials, Prepress and platemaking technology, Finishing and converting systems, Inspection, overprinting and label application equipment, Dies, cutters, rollers, Inks and coatings, RFID and security solutions, Software and interactive technology. Spread over 4 days in 4 halls the show has 250 exhibitors which include Avery Dennison, Bobst, Esko, HP, Hyden Packaging, Martin Automatic, Monotech Systems, Nilpeter, OMET, RK Label, Xeikon, and Zhejiang Weigang Machinery. The last labelexpo India in 2016 saw over 8000 visitors.

Brand Innovation Day: Labelexpo India 2018 hosted “Brand Innovation Day” will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 22 November (Day 1 of the show). It will include a series of presentations followed by a short tour of key suppliers, highlighting the latest technologies and showing how brands can achieve stand-out product presence. About 50 brand owners and packaging designers in India are expected to attend. The purpose of the program is to equip delegates with expert insight into making the most out of their brand, how they can overcome key challenges on the path to future growth and staying ahead of competition in a fast-paced industry. 

Labelexpo Global Series managing director Lisa Milburn, who will open the Brand Innovation Day, said: “Our most commonly asked question at Labelexpo India is how brands can learn how to use their labels and packaging to stand out from the competition. Given the success and popularity of our educational program for our other Labelexpo events including our Americas show in held in last September, we wanted to provide similar opportunities for Labelexpo India attendees. The appetite for labels and package printing continues undiminished in India and it is now one of the biggest growth markets, so it felt the right moment to offer this educational opportunity to brand owners and packaging designers at the show itself. “The Brand Innovation Day” is a rare chance for them to gain industry insights into how a brand can be inspired to innovate, experience the highlights of Labelexpo India 2018, and learn the tricks of the trade from the experts.”

The Labelexpo India Brand Innovation Day is sponsored by HP, Avery Dennison and SMI.
The above article is written and compiled by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India, October 2018