SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brand Protection and Product security through Self Adhesive Labels


Protection is one of the very basic human reflexes related phenomenon. What if you suddenly feel a hand touching your pocket where your wallet is placed.. Immediately your reflexes work & “Pat” goes your hand over your pocket in an evident effort to protect your wallet. In the middle of the night, you hear a noise and realise that someone is moving in the house or is trying to make an entry. Impulsively your hand goes to the light switch in a clear effort to protect your home from burglary. You are in the market for shopping and your child is in the back seat. Suddenly you see your child getting out into the middle of the busy road, you run and grab the child away from the traffic protecting him or her from getting hurt. Obviously people who are not quick in their reflexes end up losing their wallets or getting their houses burgled or suffering from their child getting hurt. But the more sensible and clever persons in todays world would go a step further and opt for security systems and devices. The person carrying his wallet would probably start using credit cards, a more secure form of carrying money. The home owner would probably opt for a burglar alarm, a cctv or a sensor light that would come on at the slightest of movement and the car owner would probably opt for the simple child lock in the car. In todays world protecting ones life earnings and valuables is a necessity. Similarly brands, which have much more value then a wallet, a car or a home, need protection.


A life time effort goes into building brands and protecting them is as mind boggling as it is necessary. As with time brands become more and more valuable, the need to protect them from counterfeiters and their fraudulent intentions becomes imperative. Corporate brand owners are raking their minds to find ways to protect the brand from duplication. It is not just brands that have problems with counterfeiters, currency notes, ID papers, credit cards, passports, share certificates, banker cheques, etc., are all the targets of forgers and counterfeiters. Brand piracy and product duplication are large scale frauds. The global anti counterfeiting group which represents the interest of the brand owners worldwide, estimates that fakes and duplicates cost the brand owners about 368 billion US dollar this represents 5-7 percent of world trade. Billions of dollars are lost in sales by brand owners. The government loses tax revenues; and the consumers suffer from the problems due to fake products. Pharma duplication remains the biggest area of concern as it is facing the highest level of threat and the consumer of pharmaceuticals products are the worst sufferers. Liquor is another area, greatly affected by duplicates. It is generally talked about in all the cocktail circuits in India that the amount of Johnny Walker scotch sold in India is more than what they produce in Scotland.

Senior level management teams in FMCG companies are dwelling more and more on security options available to fight this menace. Self-adhesive labels are now in the forefront offering a range of options to counter the attack from counterfeiters and duplicators. The narrow web label printer is playing a very important role in development of the security label. It is necessary that to arrive at the most appropriate security label a close co-operation of the end user, the narrow web label printer and the labelstock manufacturer is very important. The end user has to be aware of the possibilities that the labelstock producer can build-in at the production stage of the labelstock. The labelstock manufacturers has to have a variety of capabilities and skills to improvise in the laminate, similarly the narrow web label printer is required to have advanced capabilities to perform conversion on the label and build-in feature that contribute to the security of the product.

The role of labelstock manufacturers here is very important. He has to bring to the forum of these partners i.e, the user, label printer and himself, the information on the availability of raw materials and his own capabilities and the options that can be built-in at the time of producing the stock. The user brings to the forum the knowledge that he possesses about the skills of the counterfeiters and the techniques they employ in faking. The label printer who brings the label to its final shape has to have specialized converting and decorating capabilities to be able to contribute fruitfully to the efforts of this forum to design a label that would make the fakes easily identifiable. The label so produced should prove to be an effective deterrent.

The present scenario and the need for security label provides opportunity for the producer of security label, as a new market, where price is important, but not of prime concern is opening up and growing at a steady 20% per annum. Labelstock, primarily consists, of three main constituents- the release liner, the adhesive and the face paper. The release liner in most of the cases ends up in the dustbin. There are exceptions like the piggy back labels which have two liners and one ends upon the package as a part of the end label. So in general terms there is not much security built into the backing liner. It is however necessary to customize it according to the converting and dispensing requirement of the end label. The other two constituents i.e, the adhesive and face paper play an important role as these go along and are an integral part of the final dispensed label. The labelstock manufacturers needs to be well informed and equipped with the possibilities which can be employed to customize and secure a label. Most of the security is built into the facestock and the adhesive is designed to compliment the requirements of the security functions built into the facestock.

Some examples of duplication

Every country has its own type of counterfeiters & duplicaters. I mention here on what we have in India:-

1.FMCG products: I personally would probably rate toothpaste as the most widely and easily duplicated product in India. Every now and then we find the brand owners reporting raids on illegal packaging companies and catching the criminals. Yet the process of duplication goes on un-abated. The hawkers on the payments of metros or the smaller shopkeepers in smaller towns, stock & sell. Fakes or look-alikes of a famous brand Colgate being sold fraudulently under brands like Golgate, Collate or Colage in exactly similar looking packaging to many poor illiterate consumers. I wonder if it amounts to dental hygiene or not.? I feel simple a security seal affixed on the product packaging and adequately advertised, would be a deterrent but then the brand owners are the best judges, they may already have put their minds on this.

2.Bank frauds: I now bring to you a classic example of cheque forgery. A particular person in collusion with a postman got hold of a bankers cheque issued by a bank favouring Canara bank for Rs.Eight Million This is how the word Canara bank was written.

Canara Bank

The person used a matching pen & changed it like this.

"Tucanarain Bankey "

by affixing “T U” before Canara and in after it and then “e y” after bank. The cheque now read Tucanarain Bankey which appears to be a normal Indian name. He opened an account with Syndicate bank in name of Tucanarain Bankey, deposited the bankers cheque and withdrew the money. The fraud came to light when the man had vanished leaving some 50000/- in the account. To check frauds like this a co. in Mumbai had opted for affixing transparent filmic labels on all the written text of the cheque to prevent such tampering. Temporarily this did act as a deterrent. Now we have a request from the same customer to further modify the product as duplicators use hair dryers to heat the product label and peel it off when the adhesive softens. They make changes in the amount/name and refix the label.

The above examples clearly indicate the imperative need of introducing security features on all products. Labels play a very definite and important roll in this. To reach the final security labels a sincere effort and collective thinking of the brand owner, the label printer and the labelstock manufacturer is required. Without hampering the brand image, security has to be built up in the product and the method for educating the end user to verify the authenticity of the product has to be devised.

Security Option:-

I list below some of the security options available-

1. Barcodes

2. Consecutive or sequential numbering

3. Holograms

4. DNA Inks

5. Thermochromic inks

6. Multi layered label

7. Transfer labels

8. Security cuts on labels

9. VOID stock

10. Security inks (UV sensitive)

11. Micro Taggants in labels

12. Destructible label

13. Sub surface printing

14. Security threads

15. RFID

16. UV Fibres in pulp or adhesive

17. Water mark paper

I now dwell on the some individual security labels and the construction of such labelstocks. Some features are overt those that can be seen and others covert that can not be seen normally.

1. Barcode labels:-

I am sure most people recognize barcodes. These are present on labels as a band of verticle lines of varying thickness. These contain a whole lot of information in them. Barcodes are used for billing, inventory control, product tracking and a variety of control systems beside providing a fair amount of security. Barcodes can be printed by many printing processes but the most widely used process to print barcodes with the highest level of sensing remains the Thermal transfer printing. For accurate printing of a barcode the labelstock needs to be specially designed. The face paper is double coated on top for smoothness and for firm anchorage of the barcode to the paper. The reverse side of the face paper is also coated to prevent any seapage of the adhesive to the top, especially when the thermal transfer barcode is printed by application of heat. The adhesive has to be designed to adhere to a vide range of difficult and low energy surfaces. One can imagine the trouble that would erupt if these labels that provide a lot of information besides security, fall off the packages they are supposed to adhere on. The release paper has to be a highly calendered glassine which provides for a certain amount of transparency to enable the barcode printer to sense the label through the release paper. The release paper is also designed to offer release values which compliment high speed convertion and further dispensing on automatic labeling machines. Today demand for barcoded labels is coming from users on different substratres like BOPP, Polyester, Metalized films, etc. Again here these substrates need to be given a top coat to make them suitable for the required printing process and proper sensing and reading of the barcode thereafter.

2. Holograms-

Holograms are optically variable devices. The opticall interaction of the holographic image with the human eye makes it ideal for both brand promotion and security. These are generally produced out of polyester films and the labelstock manufacturing is a part of the process involving production of holograms. The hologram producers has to work hard to keep innovating and developing complex origination process to make it difficult for counterfeiters to copy. Many holograms produced today are tamper evident they also have other security features built into them like sequential numbering,UV fluorescence in the adhesive, etc. The area of holography is quite well developed and there is a lot of scope in it for producing newer security options. The hologram manufacturer does have special capabilities to produce the label face yet the adhesive and release are generally sourced outside. The release paper has to be specially designed with extremely low peel values for the tamper evident holograms. Smallest hindrance in the case of release may tamper the hologram before it is applied. This will render the hologram useless.

3. Security Inks and threads and UV Fibres- Creating security features into labelstocks or labels using security inks is possible in many diverse ways. This is possible due to the wide variety of inks available.

Some examples-

(a)Thermo chromic inks:- These inks change colour with change of temperature e.g, if you keep a bottle of cold drink or a beer in a freezer, the moment it reaches a temp of say 10 degree C the otherwise invisible printed text “chilled” would be visible and readable. It would disappear with the rise of temperature. Similarly we have inks that change colour at higher temperature.

(b) UV sensitive inks- These glow under UV light or change colour when exposed to sunlight.

(c)Metameric inks- These are inks that are similar in day light condition but change under different light sources. One can print an invisible message which becomes readable when light condition change such images cannot be photocopied.

At the labelstock manufacturing stage the face paper can be printed on the top or the reverse with any of the security inks. The front side is generally printed with these inks by the label printer at the time of producing labels. However if printing is desired at the reverse before the adhesive this has to be done prior to producing the label laminate security threads can also be introduced into the laminate . UV fibres can be incorporated into the the pulp by the paper mill or in the adhesive during production of labelstock. Such fibres can be seen under the UV light.

4. Tamper evidents-

 Tamper evident labels are the most widely used security labels. These labels generally have features built into them, such that they show when they have been removed and reapplied. The classic example is the label which when removed leaves the message VOID behind. Today labelstock can be designed such that the residual message VOID can be customized to customer needs. Destructible labels are another form of tamper evident label materials. Such a label fragments into small pieces when somebody attempts to remove it. These labelstocks can be top coated for accepting barcode printing. Generally used materials for destructible are acetate and vinyls however some companies do have some proprietory constructions. Other products falling under the category of tamper evidents is the multi layer, where the layers are designed such that they split when the label is removed. In the case of the transfer label whole or part of the label is transferred to the substrate on which label is applied, blank film or partially printed film comes off from the top.

5. RFID-

The list of security labels would be incomplete without dwelling on the RFID or the Radio frequency identification. It is perhaps the most interactive technology that is making its impact on the world of packaging & labeling. It has far reaching impact on the supply chain and marketing systems. Large retail chain stores are demanding that the vendors provide smaller and compact RFID that adhere to the products. Benefits of these devices include inventory control, theft detterent, data of purchase of a full basket products be transmitted instantly for billing as also setting off the alarms if an uninvoiced product is being taken out of the exit. It is at this stage a lot of development being undertaken to incorporate the RFID into labelstocks and finally into labels. RFIDs can exist with barcoded labels and are difficult to copy or simulate. The cost of equipment to be used for inlay of chips into the labelstocks presently is huge and in face of fast changing technologies there is substantial risk. The equipment may soon become obsolete.

Producing finished RFID label is a challenging job. Many of the inlays may be damaged in the process and losses are estimated to be upto 15 percent. The labels and chips may get damaged in the converting process itself. Special cushioned substrates can prevent damage to the chip thus making it extremely necessary for testing the functionality and readability of the chip before and after insertion into the labelstock.

A typical construction has been developed by a leading US based co. Here the chip is inserted into the labelstock with a foam layer then a antistatic coating is given to prevent the RFID from static charge thereafter the face paper and finally the top coating to accept barcode printing. There is a lot of hipe of RFID being the technology of the future. It will change the face of labels that aid retailing. Then there are others, who do not agree with the line of thought. At this stage I would like to add a word of caution lest one may over indulge in a technology that changes fast and may not eventually be implemented.

Summary- The scope of security labels is wide. The efforts of innovative labelstock manufacturer and label producers can produce new and effective security solutions. The list of other options available can further include DNA inks, taggants that are microscopic particles or even biocodes, water mark papers or labels with security cuts, the list extends as far as the imagination of the innovative labelstock or label manufacturers extends. Preparing security labels is only one part of the exercise, educating customer to check its authenticity is the more important part. What good is a security label if it cannot protect the duplication and if you do not know how to check if it is a genuine product?

Before I conclude I must state that developing security labels and producing them is an ongoing process. No single solution is a permanent solution for a product, because if someone can make it then someone can fake it. It just may be a matter of time.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chandan Khanna; I wanted to be different!

Partition of India uprooted Jai Gopal Khanna from his birthplace in Multan, now in Pakistan, and he migrated to Mumbai. By 1950 he took on the profession of being a commercial artist. His work was good and his customers were happy with his work. Creativity had a different meaning those days when no computers were there to aid designing. Those days the only cosmetic cream that sold around the year was called snow. One of his customers, a snow manufacturer, was so impressed by Jai Gopal Khanna’s work that he urged him to start printing and converting of packaging material for them. They partly funded Khanna to buy his first treadle letter press. His work increased and he started to carry his designing work home. His sons lived with him and in typical Punjabi tradition, they also joined his business. While working on his designing the elder Khanna let his little grandson play with the colors that he was using. In fact he encouraged the child to play and enjoy the colorful experience. Little did he realize that he was delivering his first lesson as a mentor to the little boy, Chandan Khanna.

As Chandan grew, he saw his father and uncles work hard to make Ajanta Printarts, their startup venture, a successful packaging Co. but his mentor remained his grandfather. Ajanta got their first Japanese four color offset press in 1987 and did not have to look back thereafter. They started to acquire new presses and equipments every couple of years. After graduating in commerce stream, from NM College in Mumbai, Chandan Khanna left for London for specialized training in Offset Printing. He returned to join Ajanta in 1992. While the business was growing, customers like Unilever and Wipro were driving them to further expansion, Chandan was restless. He wanted to do something else, he wanted to be different.
On an international flight to an industry printing event he met Vivek Kapoor, now owner of Creative Prints and President of LMAI. During the journey Vivek answered all of Chandan’s questions about the nuances of self adhesive label industry. Little did he know at that time, that Chandan would soon be a competitor to him. Nerker of Unique Photo Offset and Gautam Rajani of PM Industries are others who influenced Chandan to satisfy his urge of doing something different by indulging in production of self adhesive labels. He started studying a lot about narrow web label presses. Letterpress was not of interest to him and his heart was in offset printing. He finally bought an Iwasaki waterless offset narrow web press in the year 2000. This was the only one of its kind in India and hence it was different! People in the industry thought he had made a big mistake by opting for a new technology when there were no operators available for such a press. They were laughing at him. Though momentarily, yet Chandan wondered if he really had made a mistake. Not ready to accept defeat, he worked hard trying to get knowledge about the press and the technology. Six months down the line he successfully printed the first self adhesive label in roll for clinic shampoo. The label was well accepted and appreciated. Another few months of running the machine was making profits and Chandan was having the last laugh. Ten years after joining work, Chandan decided to acquire further skills and he joined the S P Jain institute in Mumbai and to get his masters degree in Family Managed Business (FMB). I personally feel happy to have suggested to him this course at that time as my own son was pursuing that course and I was pleased by the outcome.
Chandan has a busy family. While he and his father look after the joint family’s label business, his wife is a successful solicitor and his mother, who was a teacher till a couple of years ago is now devoting much of her time to social work. A five year old son and an eight months old daughter account for Chandan’s spare time. I asked him when he will make them splash colors like his grandfather did. To this he laughs it out and says, “It will be good if they take to family business however I will not force them”.
Ajanta packaging has steadily grown since then. With 150 employees they have production facilities at three locations i.e. Daman, Baddi and Dubai(UAE). A total of ten label presses have been acquired till date. Three waterless offsets  and a one Nilpeter at Daman, One offset and two MPS flexo presses at Baddi and two offset presses at Dubai. Even though he is an outrightly offset man, Chandan surprised all at Labelexpo 2008 in Brussels by announcing the purchase two Flexo Presses, a nilpeter and an MPS in one go! As his business continues to grow he gives all credit to the team he has put in place. Important customers like Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Wipro, etc. have helped him to implement efficient management systems. He is committed to excel in labels and reach the topmost slot in five years from now and would still be doing something different!

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Generation-next, taking over!

“There is a fountain of youth; it is your mind, the talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source you will truly have defeated age” These words came from the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren. So very true! As parents, when people my age witness their offsprings unfold the talents and creativity they have acquired as they grew up, there is a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Every parent strives hard in the given means to provide the best education and professional training to their children, so that they can standup to the challenges of modern day competitive living. In our Indian business society, the fathers or for that matter even mothers are natural mentors who guide the youth to eventually grow up to inherit the businesses that they painstakingly set up. It is a pleasure to see the children join you as trainees, gradually transform into managers, become business owners and eventually business leaders. Our label industry which originated in the seventies of the last century, is now witnessing a handing over of the baton to the next generation. The way this generation is moving out of the shadows of their mentors to evolve into professional managers who modernize, expand, systemize and lead the companies successfully to new arenas, is commendable. I dedicate this column to the Gen-Next of the Indian Label Industry!
Finat, the international association of the self adhesive label industry, recognized the need to channelize the energies and huge potential of this emerging group of young managers. The association decided to form, “Young Managers Club”.  The FINAT-YMC, as the club came to be known, was formally launched during the 2008 Finat congress at Paris. The occasion was also to celebrate the 50 years of Finat. In lines of the Finat initiative, Vivek Kapoor, President LMAI announced the setting up of LMAI-YMC (LMAI Young Managers Club). The club would have Sandeep Zaveri to be the head and assisted by Pawandeep Sahni who is also the member of the board of Finat-YMC. The LMAI-YMC is aimed to bring together the next gen leaders, create exchange opportunities with Finat-YMC, participate in programmes like innovation, lean management, succession, etc. The YMC members will be young leaders under the age of 40 years. They maybe first, second or third generation entrepreneurs.
I have made a study of some of these young leaders across the country. It is difficult to cover each and every one of these dynamic youths, yet I have tried to cover many who I have seen taking their positions to lead and excel with fervor and passion. Leading the group is the enterprising Gautham Pai, Managing Director of Manipal Press Limited, a part of the 750 million dollar Manipal group. Manipal Press was started with a single letterpress machine in 1941 and is now spread over 600000 square feet with over 2000 employees and state of art machines. While Manipal Press is a predominantly a security and offset printing company yet Gautham has lead the company’s foray into self adhesive labels. They have also struck a strategic partnership with Chennai base UPSL which is again headed by a young Rakesh Kukliya, son of the founder of UPSL. Chennai is also home to one of the oldest label printers, Better Labels owned by Dilip Sutaria who is systematically handing over the charge to his son Pakshal. In Sivakasi, the scale and quality of investments being made by the Raveendran and his brothers at Seljegat leaves one in awe! Also commendable is the way this soft spoken and humble family is handing over the decision making to their sons Prashant and Sivanesh.  Gururaj Ballarwad of Wintek at Bangalore toiled hard to achieve a position of leadership for his company. Today day to day business is transacted by his son Girish.  Sai Security Printers, Bangalore having multi-location presence has entrusted their label business to young Arvind in the South and Priyata in the North. Pramodh at Global Printing and Mahaveer at Mahaveer labels are other youthful leaders at Bangalore, designated to lead the label businesses of their companies. At Hyderabad, Pragati Offset has been a highly successful and celebrated offset printer who has experimented with self adhesive labels. The charismatic Narendra Paruchuri has transformed the label business to level comparable to the best in the industry. The shots are now called by his sons Hemanth and Harsha.
Mumbai, the birthplace of self adhesive labels has also drawn its succession plans. Bharat Mehta, a pioneer, who can probably give us all the inputs on the history of self adhesive labels in India, is a proud father now that his sons Dhaval and Darshan take most of the decisions. Jagdish Zaveri of Total Print has left it all to his soft spoken son Sandeep Zaveri, who is also the treasurer of LMAI and the president LMAI-YMC. Joe Annunciation had come to meet me for advice before his first Gallus Press was installed at Janus International. Now after three Gallus presses and an Hp Indigo press, Joe is seldom in office because his sons Denver and Janus are delivering.  The young brother and sister team of Santosh and Sandhya Shetty surprised all in the industry when they bought the brand new Nilpeter to announce their entry into self adhesive labels. In Aurangabad the feisty LMAI general secretary Deshpande is now taking time off because his son Hrishidesh is holding fort. PPL (Paper Products Limited) is perhaps the only case I can cite where a professional mentor has made way for a youthful colleague. The smiling, friendly and dynamic “Labels Girl”, my dear friend Honey Vazirani, handed over charge of the labeling division to Mandeep Singh Chhabba. Honey still works in the same organization with different responsibilities.
Heading North, I would not like to miss out my own handing over the charge to my sons Pawandeep and Kanwardeep. Pawan has been instrumental in changing the company from being a mere labelstock producer to a total solution provider for the label printers. Gaurav Goel, son of Anil Goel of Gopsons NOIDA, proudly announces his expansion in labels. Jain Transfer at Noida is experiencing the change with Bhrigav and Rishab, sons of brothers Sudhir Jain and Pavail taking charge. Anuj Bhargav of Kumar Printers has gone it alone and maintained the trust of his mentors from day one. It is a pleasure to hear Kuldeep Goel of Any Graphics talking about his passion to attain the ultimate in quality in labels and also about the brand new 100000 square foot factory that he is building. He proudly says that most of the decisions have originated from ideas given by his son Naveen. The list of these youngsters is exhaustive. I wish I had the space to write more about the education, capabilities and caliber of these young men. They are like an aromatic fresh breeze blowing over the Indian Label Industry!
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Ranesh Bajaj: Providing to label printers, with a smile

Those who know Ranesh Bajaj, always remember him because of his smiling face and capabilities to smile in diverse situations. Alumni of Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh, after acquiring his degree in mechanical Engineering, he appeared all set to do what a typical Punjabi lad is expected to do, join his father’s business. His father a wing commander in Indian Air Force, had taken premature retirement to start an ancillary spare parts manufacturing business supplying to HMT and Punjab Tractors. His father had made this strategic move to create a plat form for his son to takeover when he hung his boots. Ranesh was a restless young man who did not wish to remain restricted to Chandigarh. When an offer came from his maternal uncle Mr. J Sachdev of Standard Printers Providers to join them, Ranesh promptly accepted and was soon on his way to Japan for training. In the three months that he spent in a remote place in Japan, Rajesh learnt a lot about machines, human relationships and ways to deal with distressing situations. When he reached Japan, he knew no one there. The nearest phone to make a local phone call was 70 kms. away and to make an international call home was 150 kilometers away! He did not understand the language and had to find ways to communicate. It is a matter of pride for him to say that when he left Japan, he was friends with all in the company and in the areas around him. All the staff comprising of 150 people came to the far off airport to see him off. What a feeling it must have been, to so many people in a foreign land waving to bid him farewell.
On return to India, Ranesh worked hard travelling across the country, selling and servicing, Taiyo forms presses for Standard Printers Providers. By 1993 he was restless and ready to move ahead in life, it was time to start on his own. The same year he launched his maiden startup venture, Creed Engineers.  The first agency they got was that of A B Graphics for Omega Slitters and Rewinders. They also sold used label printing machines and the first such press he remembers he sold to S Patel & Co., Ahmedabad. Selling used presses gave him substantial profits but Ranesh’s vision was focused way ahead. He decided to visit Drupa ’95 and also made sure many of his prospective customers would be there as well. Such was his selling acumen that he sold 8 presses during that show. That was indeed the turning point in his life. He got noticed by equipment suppliers making lucrative deals and soon offers for agencies were pouring in.
Ranesh’s father had packed up his business in Chandigarh and moved to Delhi to support and guide Creed Engineers. Ranesh’s family is an educated intellectual lot. His mother is a doctorate (Ph.D) in Botany, sister a pathologist and wife Geeta also a doctorate (Ph.D) in communications. Geeta is a senior and respected professor in a leading management institute in Gurgaon. The family is a very well knit one forming a strong support system for each other.
By end of Drupa 1995, Ranesh was convinced that to succeed, he had to build the brand “Creed”.  Also that to achieve this he had to be selling new label presses and not used ones even though he made more money selling used presses.  He indulged and soon had Creed Engineers representing leading press manufacturers, “Rotatek”.  There was no looking back thereafter.  Today Creed has seven offices across India and over a 100 employees. They represent and sell a diverse range of companies and their products including Rotatek, Acquaflex, Linetec, A B Graphics, Security inks, Kodak flexo plates, Jet polymer plates, security software, etc.  It is a record of sorts that till date they have sold almost 100 Omega slitter rewinders.  Besides this they have sold in all about 60 label presses. The biggest deal Ranesh attributes to his selling two 16 colour printing presses for security printing.
Ranesh’s USP is his smiling face. He is the provider of consumables and equipment to the label printing industry and does it all with a smile.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Narrow Web Label Presses, Made in India

When we look at the growth of self adhesive label industry in India, as a first step we try and calculate the amount of labelstock consumed during the year that went by and the amount by which this figure increased over that in the preceding year. This does give the indication of the growth achieved in the last financial year and we end up assuming that the growth pattern will remain the same in the current year to arrive at a figure of estimated demand. This maybe the most obvious way to calculate but in my opinion the actual health of the industry and sustainability of growth rates comes from the level of capacity enhancement in the industry. The amount of capital invested in new and modern equipment alongwith the capability of such equipment to convert volumes is the true indicator of sustained growth in the years that will follow. However unexpected economic trends like those in the difficult year that went by, cannot be ruled out. It is a matter of rejoicing that India had strong fundamentals and financial discipline because of which it is pulling out of an otherwise distressing economic slowdown at a steady pace. If we look at the reporting pattern on the growth and new installations in the label industry in India, we note that most of the time it is the fancy branded imported presses that get the mention leaving our local presses unnoticed. It is the growing number of imported presses that are taken as the parameters indicating the health of self adhesive label industry. The local label press manufacturers, who were small and struggling to find recognition, received only occasional mention in articles reporting on the Indian Label Industry. 
I am happy to say that I chose to write this article on the Indian narrow web press manufacturers. They are moving out of the shadows. Slowly and steadily they continue becoming a force to reckon with. Already the amount of labelstocks converted on the Indian presses is a substantial share of the total consumption of material consumed in the country. These press manufacturers have toiled hard and have served their customers well, success is finally showing up on their side as well. It will not be long before they are on the world map selling their presses internationally and offering value for money. Indian press manufacturers are spread across the nation and each one trying to improve upon the technologies that there equipments employ to produce the best labels.  The presses are within the reach and affordable for the small entry level label printers. Even larger label companies are buying these equipments to enhance capacities at least for simpler jobs.
India’s self adhesive label industry initially evolved by depending on and largely employing small Japanese flat-bed  label presses. Iwasaki, Onda, Siki, etc. were the names that were synonymous with sticker or label production in the earlier days. “That has changed!” exclaims Manojbhai of R K Machines, Ahmedabad. He goes on to add “Now no one in this segment looking for a new press will shop abroad, they come to RK”. He asserts that the industry is now in top form after a slowdown last year. R K Machines have grown steadily in the flat bed label press segment. According to Manojbhai, they sold 60 presses last year and hope to sell over a 100 presses this financial. They have moved further and feel that the future is not in the flatbed press segment but in the rotary flexo and higher technologies. To complete their range of offerings, they were importing tower stack type presses and selling them here. Now they have developed this model locally and will be showcasing the same at Labelexpo India in New Delhi in December 2010.
Jandu Engineers are another press manufacturer who has tasted success in building label presses. They offer only rotary flexo printing and converting machines. They started to build these presses in the mid nineties, with the first one going to Prakash Labels at NOIDA.  Baldev Singh Jandu is proud to declare that over a 100 presses are in operation. He is a busy man and says “we cannot meet the demand” He further adds that, “we hope to deliver 20-25 presses in this financial year achieving a growth rate of over 25%”. Jandu is now building a four colour plus one UV station modular rotary flexo press and plans to make a full UV six colour press in the near future. To cater to the plain label and barcode label segment they have recently introduced a “Baby Model”.  This is a small low cost rotary die cutting press with two die heads. They have yet to decide the products that they will showcase at Labelexpo or perhaps they wish to keep the information as a surprise!
“It is great time now” says Amit Ahuja of Multitec at Faridabad, when I asked him how the Indian label industry was shaping up after the slowdown.  He feels his company will grow 50% in this segment. They sold 12 presses last year and hope to sell over 18 in the current financial. He is quite excited about showcasing his next development, “A full servo multi-colour modular rotary flexo press” at Labelexpo India, Delhi.  I had visited his facility earlier last year and was highly impressed by the setup and their capabilities. This company will go a long way!
Hamayun of Keen Engineering Mumbai, also feels the industry has moved away or lost interest in the slow flat bed machines that he was making. In view of the flexible dies becoming affordable, more and more customers are opting for rotary models. Though he did not find much success last year yet he is happy that the industry is growing by 20-25% and that has prompted him to soon launch his rotary intermittent press. He feels there is a definite segment for this technology.  Apex Rototech in Delhi sell a couple of machines each year and are also trying their hands on an all servo press. There are other players also trying to carve out their place in the industry. Shreya and Rattan in Mumbai, Webtech in Faridabad and few others across the country are catering to localized customers. Auto print in Coimbatore is a relatively big player and quite respected for the quality of their offerings. The one fact common to them all is that they are all of the view that the self adhesive label industry is growing. The pace at which our Indian Label press manufacturers are growing, the day is not far when they will showcase at international shows and go global, rubbing shoulders with the best in the world.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Prakash Labels: His Karma! The sons labeled it…as success!

Charanjeet Lal Mahajan worked as Superintendent Engineer in DESU (Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking) until his retirement in 1997. He is a modest smiling man, totally dedicated to his family and a friend to all who know him. While still in service himself, he dreamt and wished his three sons to grow up and start a successful industrial enterprise. He used his resources to give good education to his sons and worked hard towards his dream. When his eldest son Rakesh completed his graduation and then Post graduation in Marketing and sales in 1986, Mahajan took him to his friend Vinayak Sud of Liddles for employment and soon Rakesh was selling labels. Liddles were pioneers in self adhesive labels and were riding a boom those days. Rakesh soon saw the huge profits this industry generated. Meanwhile in the same year Dinesh the second son, had acquired his degree in mechanical engineering and had joined Thermax, Pune. In 1989 when Neeraj, his youngest son graduated with a degree in commerce, Mahajan decided, it was time to initiate his sons into business.
By now Rakesh had acquired in-depth knowledge about self adhesive labels more so gun labels. Rakesh quit his job and Neeraj joined him to start their trading venture from an office in Asaf Ali Road. In less the four years in 1993 senior Mahajan was sure his two sons had enough business acumen and Dinesh working at Thermax had acquired enough skills in management and systems necessary for running an efficient enterprise. It was time to move to the final step of fulfilling his dream. Dinesh resigned from his job, Rakesh and Neeraj wound up their trading operations and they were ready to launch their manufacturing venture. New or used branded label presses were expensive and beyond their reach. Charanjeet Lal Mahajan’s vision saw in his long time friend Baldev Singh Jandu, the potential and capability of building an indigenous label press.  Jandu, the optimist as he is, accepted the challenge and soon left for USA, to study the Mark Andy press. On his return he came back and started to put together the first Jandu fully rotary flexo Label Press for Mahajans. Meanwhile the Mahajans had got a loan sanctioned by UPSIDC to fund their startup manufacturing venture. Unfortunately their loan got cancelled due to a complaint from one of their suppliers in their trading business. The Mahajan brothers, that day were a worried lot. They had closed their running business, left their jobs and bet all on this. They were devastated and in that awful mood they walked to their home in trans-Yamuna area of Delhi, from the UPSIDC office in Connaught Place. It must have been over one hour of walking! Tired and dejected, they reached home and told the story to their father. The senior Mahajan was smiling! He was not giving up, he had faith in his sons. He sold his house to fund the start of Prakash Labels Pvt.Ltd. and the entry of the Mahajans in to the manufacturing of self adhesive labels! Charanjeet Lal Mahajan was happy because what he had done was his Karma!
The senior Mahajan has never indulged in the operations of the company and left everything from start to this day to his sons. There has been no looking back. Dinesh Mahajan heads the team and overseas overall management and marketing, Rakesh heads the manufacturing operations and Neeraj collects all the money, he heads the Finance. The brothers fondly remember that for their first customers Uncle Chips and Castrol they stayed three days in the factory trying to print a label correctly! Again when the weights and measure department banned the use of price marking labels on consumer packs, it was a nightmare for them. They changed focus and repositioned themselves to grow in business. Their biggest growth came when they started to produce sequential labels for the garment industry. They have come a long way since then.  They are leaders in labels for hand held labelers and barcode labels. They have a very strong association with Open data of Italy.
Prakash labels as of today has four factories, three factories in NOIDA, One of which is an EOU(Export Oriented Unit) in the export processing zone and one factory in Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. They have their own offices in six cities across India and one office in UAE. They have 12 label presses and one more is awaited. Out of these they have one Mark Andy 2200 with turret rewinder, an Italian press also with turret rewinder, Two Orthotecs, eight Jandu presses (One yet to be delivered) and one more local press.  The young Mahajans proudly mention that Baldev singh Jandu who was their father’s friend is now the dear friend of this second generation. Consuming over half a million square meters of labelstocks, they are one of the largest buyers of labelstocks in India. With a 160 strong workforce they plan to move further ahead and make investments in RFID and other VIP labels (Variable Information Printing).
The Mahajans continue to grow at a steady pace and feel their father has been the driving force in their success. He has instilled in them family values that bond them all together. Charanjeet Lal Mahajan had a vision, he was committed to it, he did his KARMA! His sons delivered, they labeled it…as SUCCESS!

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Global Label associations come together!

In the last issue I had dwelled on the need for printers to go green. It is definitely not going to be long before government regulations on waste management and environment issues in self adhesive label industry get more stringent. It will not be possible anymore to send your label waste to the landfill or burn it. On March 13, 2010, The Global Label Associations Summit was held in Barcelona, Spain. LMAI(Label manufacturers association of India) is also a member of the L8, the prestigious group of leading world label associations. In a joint statement they endorsed the industry’s commitment to a more sustainable and environmental responsible future and to supporting ongoing industry measures to further reduce the environmental impact of labels, encourage more sustainable label materials and production processes, meet changing industry and customer recycling targets, and to working towards the continued reduction of label waste.
 Among the many measures that global label industry associations, suppliers and converters are already targeting are:
  • The promotion and encouragement of the use of environmental management and audit systems (ISO 14001, EMAS, LIFE) in the label industry
  • Enhancing measures to inform, educate and support label producers in meeting current and future label environmental and sustainability targets
  • Supporting the use of materials and schemes that encourage sustainable and renewable resources, such as FSC, PEFC or SFI
  • Continued industry development of solutions to maximize cost-effective recovery and recycling of self-adhesive labelstock waste
  • Highlighting the development and use of thinner, lighter label materials
  • Working towards further reduction in the amount of landfill waste and higher recovery and recycling rates
Having a more prominent industry voice and input into global government, brand owner, packaging and related organizations that are currently impacting on environment and sustainability issues relating to labels and label usage. 
Mike Fairley, the renowned Label Guru and Director Strategic Development at the Labels Group Tarsus, was the keynote speaker at the summit. Speaking on “Global Industry Challenges and Opportunities” he spoke on the need for key label buyers and specifiers consisting of global brand owners and retail groups, to be the driving force. The issue of waste management has also started to bother some of the leading label printers of India. In the last couple of weeks following publication of my last column in this magazine, I have had calls from some of the printers asking about ways how to dispose the waste as their local administration is making it more and more difficult and also expensive to attend to this problem. Our local industry association LMAI also needs to step in on the issue and arrange brainstorming sessions in various parts of the country to evolve a strategy on this. I am sure there will be government support and funding on such initiatives. 
As for LMAI, the association is putting its act together and working. On 26th of March 2010 they held a seminar on intellectual property rights at Aurangabad in association with MSME. The Young Managers Club of FINAT also met in Barcelona on the sidelines of the Global Label Associations Summit. A Young Managers Board had meanwhile been elected that was currently in the process of establishing a programme of networking, management exchange and education for the coming years. About half of the currently 55 YMC members were from outside Europe, mainly India. The Indian association LMAI had meanwhile informed FINAT that they were in the process of creating a similar Young Managers Club. Vivek Kapoor, President LMAI has in the meanwhile taken steps in this direction. He has designated Pawandeep Sahni, member FINAT YMC Board to lead the initiative to form Young Manager's Club at LMAI. LMAI is also planning to have meets and seminars on costing and technical ugradation. Plans are also afoot to organise a conference and networking event for the label industry. Very soon the process for LMAI awards will be initiated. This year looks to be more interesting in the field of newer technologies. Last time when this competition was held there were categories where there were no or very little participation but in the interim period there have been investments made especially in digital printing and booklet labels. We expect more active participation. The LMAI also needs to increase membership so that representation is widespread and the association has true national presence.
Labeltech 2010, a label exhibition, was held at Mumbai recently. Label Planet/Intergraphics was the only stand showcasing working label presses. Other then this, the show was quite small and the visitors from the label industry were a disillusioned lot. This show was held along with Intelpack, which is a packaging show and had a fair participation. However this was not of interest to label printers who travelled long distances to visit. Printers, suppliers and press suppliers felt that the shows need to be more professionally and efficiently organized. The shows also need to be spaced such that there is only one big good quality show per year. With industry getting more and more competitive, people feel, too many shows add up unnecessary travel expenses as also put a huge pressure on valuable time. Moreover if the show is not up to the mark, the expense and time goes waste.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Amar Chhajed…we are available 24 hours!

It was at Pamex 1997 when Amar saw the Mark Andy label press for the first time. He was instantly drawn to it and was overawed by it. He kept thinking about it in the days that followed. Four weeks later his decision was made, he had to buy this machine.  At an age when boys his age were dreaming of buying their favorite cars, he had decided to buy a Mark Andy Label Press! It was a big investment and Amar found support from his uncle, a part of the extended family, to fund the acquisition.  His uncle ran a successful packaging unit producing corrugated boxes, where Amar got his initial training. The experience and contacts made during this period helped him get settled in the label business. Today Jitesh, his cousin is his partner and a treasured colleague. As a young boy, in the early nineties when the stock markets were booming, like all those who wanted to make big money, Amar was also infatuated by the stocks. He wanted to become a successful stock broker. As luck would have it, while still in school at a tender age of 16years he lost his father who was a farmer turned sugar trader. He was left wondering…what next? His heart was never in studies, he indulged in stock markets and did make some money. It was only when he suddenly lost all in the trading that he realized the meaning of what his father had once said to him, “Son, you have to create something”. The family had no bread earner and those words coming back to him changed the entire way he looked at life. He decided to be successful and create. 
Webtech, Amar Chhajed’s startup enterprise was setup in 1998. He trained himself to be the first operator of the press that he had acquired. For six months he was the only employee and used to produce and sell all alone. His experience in his uncle’s packaging unit turned out to be a great advantage.  While Elf Lubricants was his first customer yet it was the Indian oil order that brought in volumes and got him going. Amar, remembers the first meeting he had with the GM of Indian Oil and it lasted a couple of minutes, leaving him confused. They asked him his capacity which he assured was 5 lakh labels per day and they bluntly told him that he had to supply a million labels each day! The meeting ended. It was time to buy the next press. Amar did not stop there. Webtech today is one of the biggest label printers in India. They have as of date twelve label presses in their Mumbai unit and two in Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh. There are two more presses on way. Many firsts in the industry include the first all UV Mark Andy press, first AVT inspection system installed on a narrow web label press, the first shuttleworth job management software for narrow web labels and the first Xeicon digital press. He smiles when he says he was poor in maths while at school but now numbers remain his strong point in business. With 160 employees, Webtech consumes 6lakh to 7lakh square meters of label stock each month and the dedicated team put together by Amar and his cousin Jitesh is sure to double up this figure in just five years. They also aspire to diversify into other related areas in packaging. It is credible that they ship out 150 variables to different customers each day! Amar has surely created a company driven by passion to satisfy their customers.
The most memorable incidence of his life remains a problem that he addressed in the earliest stages of his carrier and has become the motivating vision for his entire team. One evening at 7PM he got a call from his factory that the UV lamps on the press had failed and the production had come to a stop and that they could not meet the customers schedule.  His suppliers in the UK told him they could not deliver the lamps before 5 to 6 days even though hey had the lamps in stock. The courier co. would take that much time. Not ready to accept the situation, four hours later Amar was on a flight to London. The lamps were delivered to him by the suppliers at London’s Heathrow airport and a few hours later Amar was on the return flight to Mumbai. The lamps were collected by his people at the Mumbai airport and rushed to his factory. In less then 24 hours the labels were being produced again at Webtech, to this day the customer does not know that there was a gap in production. Amar has always been very dedicated to his customers. They start producing labels the moment their customers want them and to this day they work in two 12 hour shifts, irrespective of the situation whether there is order or no order. It is Webtech’s endeavor and resolve to be there whenever the customer needed them. He is proud to tell his customers, “We are available, 24 hours!”

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Label industry and the need to go green.

Climate changes, global warming and environmental degradation are issues that now have become matters of concern to a large part of the urban population of India. A rapidly growing population is contributing to serious problems like paucity of land, soil erosion, depleting forests, destruction of natural habitat, an ever increasing demand of energy, water and infrastructure. All of these lead to air & water pollution, climate changes and finally scarcity of essential inputs necessary for urban living. Research has shown that carbon emissions, which grew by less then 1% per year during 1990 have tripled to a growth rate of over 3.5% since 2000. Nowhere in the world has the level of growth shown a decline in the last decade. Legislations and controls are being implemented on vehicles, industry, transport, etc. to bring down the level of pollution emissions and damage to the environment. Industrial groups and associations around the world have recognized the need for corporate responsibility. They are propagating to their associates and members to implement procedures and systems for reducing the adverse impact of emissions or industrial waste on the environment. Industry is now required to implement treatment of effluents and adopt manufacturing processes that do not adversely effect the environment. Recyclability is being encouraged to reduce waste. Corporate social responsibility is the need of the hour. Pressure sensitive label industry in India has been quite small as compared to that in other countries in the western world. Now with the Indian label industry on a growth path and getting bigger, we need to dwell on the fact that this industry generates a very high level of waste. It is high time that the self adhesive label Industry attends to this issue and looks at solutions for reducing the impact of this waste.
The label industry generates waste at many stages in its path from the time of production of the self adhesive laminate to conversion into labels and then at the stage of final usage in the end users factory. Almost 50% of the self adhesive label stock ends up as waste! The various stages at which this waste originates are as follows;
  1. Trimmings and off-cuts generated during the slitting process in the label stock manufacturing process.
  2. Waste matrix removal at the converting stage in a label printing unit. Waste matrix generation increases if a label user opts for a complex shape for his label.
  3. All the release liner used as backing material in label stock is waste, once the label has been dispensed and applied to the product it is meant for. This occurs at the end user stage.
With a per capita usage of label stock in India, by modest estimates, having reached much over half a square meter, the total consumption of label stock in India is estimated to be around 600 to 700 million square meters per annum. This translates to a total tonnage of label stocks of around 100,000 tons per year. If we take 50% as wastage and with no organized disposal or treatment system in place, we have 50000 tons of waste material that is impacting the environment in India. I am sure this column will be an eye opener and my colleagues in the industry will realize the gravity of this problem which is growing at a fast pace. A fair sized label printing unit in India consuming around half a million square meters of label stocks each month is a part of the chain that would be generating close to 500 tons of waste each year. I am sure many printers who fall in this bracket will agree that it is time they dwelled on this problem seriously. They need to indulge extensively and contribute their bit by indulging in waste management and recycling wherever possible to reduce the adverse effects of this waste on our environment. 
Waste matrix removed from the release liner during the label printing process has not met with much success in the re-pulping process by the paper mills in a effort to reconvert the matrix into paper. This is due to the fact that water is extensively used during re-pulping and pressure sensitive adhesives do not dissolve in water. Wherever a process has been evolved to repulp this waste, the paper produced did not stand upto performance standards. Once recyclable PSA’s are developed and made available at affordable prices, printers will be able to send the waste matrix reels to paper mills. Till such time these rolls will either find their way to land fill adding to soil erosion or be incinerated without recovery of the energy so generated and polluting the atmosphere with the smoke and gasses so generated.
Release liner is a compulsory waste generated in all self adhesive products. One of the only paper mills to have developed a technology to repulp the siliconized release paper is Ahlstrom Werke in Germany. Here the participating companies pay the freight and ship the liner free of cost to the mill. Such a system does not exist in India. Efforts are needed to address this gigantic issue. Release liner recyclability can be attended to in a limited way if the end users of label also cooperate with the other constituent of the entire supply chain consisting of the laminate producer, the label printer and the label user. Designing linerless labels, recycling and re-using release liners, re-pulping to produce papers can reduce the impact of this waste on the environment. This can only be achieved by a joint initiative by the industry at large. Government support by subsidizing the efforts will also drive people to consider indulging in these initiatives.
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Raveendran, humble yet successful!

Some 25 years ago I heard of Mr. Raveendran of Sivakasi. I came to know that he was doing a good job in self adhesive labels in Sivakasi and I decided I had to meet him. There was a printing exhibition being held in Chennai so I called him and fixed that we meet there. When I arrived in that dusty ground where the exhibition was being held in tents, similar to those that were being used in India those days for weddings, I realised that I did not recognize him and had never met him. I asked an exhibitor about him and was told he was just here! Anyway I spent the rest of time looking for him unsuccessfully. I eventually met him later at another show. I was surprised at the simplicity of the man and to this day he continues to surprise me by his simplicity and humble nature. I continue to meet him at almost every important label event in all parts of the world. He has a voracious appetite to learn some more.
Descendent of a family where the grand father was in grocery business and father trading in chemicals for fireworks, matches and printing, all what Sivakasi is known for. The family’s foray into printing was by chance. An uncle who bought a Japanese flat bed press in seventies was unsuccessful. Raveendran’s family bailed him out and ventured into printing business. At that time they were printing unsupported stock or wet glue labels and garment labels. 1982 saw Raveendran visiting Drupa and witnessing the success of self adhesive labels in the west. He returned to setup his flagship firm “Seljegat Printers”.  From the first flatbed label press, Seljegat began its journey into self adhesive labels. They imported their first flexo press a Mark Andy but were disappointed as the Indian agents sold to them an obsolete model. Raveendran proudly remembers that the company realized their mistake and replaced the equipment with a brand new Mark Andy 2200! Success followed them in form of customers like KIWI- TTK LTD AND RECKITT COLMAN & COMPANY. Seljegat has travelled a long way since then. Raveendran fondly remembers that they had to hang their labels on a drying line for hours to dry them. Today Seljegat is operating from a 40000 sq.ft. factory where another 25000 sq.ft. is under construction. With a capital investment of over Rupees 12Crores and 160 employees they spin out sales of over Rs.18 Crores. They have 13 roll to roll presses using a host of different printing and decorating processes.
Raveendran who is the face of Seljegat is a highly qualified person with an M.Tech, degree acquired after completing his B.E. in chemical engineering. Seljegat is a family run business and all three brothers jointly spear head it. They compliment each other and are proud that their parents motivated them to be honest businessmen. The industry today vouches for them. Jegatheesan the elder brother having overall control of the business, Raveendran is looking after the new product development and investment and Jeganathan is looking after the Finance and executions. The younger generation is also joining in.  Jegatheesan’s son is an MBA looking after marketing operations. Raveendran’s son Prashanth who is a mechanical engineer is looking after the production and implementation of MIS Systems to bring professional management to this company. Before the year comes to end the following expansion programmes have already been put in place for implementation; A)    ODRI (Offline Digital Reference Inspection) system with A2 Scanner (600 DPI) for ONLINE clearance of First printed label.  B)     Offline inspection slitting and rewinding system Rotoflex with NIKKA Inspection system. C)    Esko Graphics CDI Spark 2530 Computer to plate system and Advanced software. D)    Intermittent Feeding label printing machine – Iwasaki – Japan
I have had the opportunity to visit Sivakasi three times. The last time I visited when Anil Arora took a group on a southern sojourn as a part of his road shows to promote the India Label Show. Raveendran was there to receive us, take care of us and see us of at unimaginable hours! He was a perfect host to the Industry. Before that I went another time and I was surprised by his penchant and indulgence in quality control. I had to spend a lot of time in his lab to get my materials tested to his satisfaction. His yearning to learn more was evident from the amount of questions that he would ask. Now my first visit! I flew in from Chennai and he sent an ambassador taxi to pick me up from Madurai. That is the nearest airport. He is always a perfect host. He took me around to all his places of work. His office in the city, introduced me to his brothers, even arranged for me to visit other printers. When I went to his factory I was surprised to see a brand new elegant bus standing there. I thought like other enterprising south Indians he too had a transport company. No! It was a bus that ferried his employees to work in the morning and dropped them home in the evening. I was impressed. When we had finished with the factory tour and our discussions he asked my taxi driver to take me to a restaurant for Lunch and he would follow to join me there. So that after lunch I could leave straight to airport. As I got down from the cab and waited for my friend Raveendran, he came and I was surprised. Modest as he is, he came on a simple old motorcycle!  This man provides for a brand new bus with reclining seats for his employees works hard, is a millionaire many times over, is successful and yet so humble. The success emanates from a mantra that Vanaja, his wife gave to him, “BE GOOD AND DO GOOD” automatically every thing will fall in line.

Digital! The new buzzword in Indian Label Industry,

Labelexpo Brussels 2009 stood up to the test of trying times. A few months before the event, the show organizers were a worried lot. Bookings were not a problem as they had a higher no. of exhibitors numbering 544 compared to the 511 in 2007. In fact another hall had to be added to accommodate the increase. The worry was to get enough visitors to justify the investment made by the exhibitors. Termed as the largest label show on earth, a befitting and aggressive marketing campaign was put in place. The new hall that was added was a theme hall featuring the latest developments in digital printing! Going with the trend, the marketing campaign was built up by sending personalized mailers to printers across the globe using digital printing! There was a concentrated effort to prove the point that the economic downturn in at least the label industry was tapering off. The visitors came and showed their resolve to bring about growth and shine in the industry. The number of visitors was marginally lower then the previous show by 2% and stood at  24169, but the quality of visitors were very focused and knew what they had come looking for. They came from 125 countries, making the show to be a truly global label event. The exhibitors were not disappointed.
Leading Indian label printers visited the show and were evident by their interest in newer technologies. Machine suppliers were tight lipped on how many printers or who were in the market to actually shop for new equipment. Our label printers who have braved the storm are now cautious yet getting into the expansion mode. It is evident that they are all now looking at either newer technologies or new innovations. Their intense discussions with suppliers in the digital section were obvious. The young Annunciation brothers at Janus International in Mumbai India were the first ones in the narrow web label industry to acquire the HP Indigo Label press but then following the slowdown there was a lull thereafter even though digital presses continued to be installed by label printers around the world. At Brussels, leading the industry from the front and setting the trend for future, Amar Chhajed of Webtech Labels bought a Xeicon digital Press with online finishing and decorating capabilities. If you recall that in this column in April 2009 I wrote, “Label printers at this juncture should use the opportunity to innovate and use the full capabilities of their equipment to develop new products that would add value for them as well as for the users.” Amar went a step ahead and also bought a Longford Botham Booklet inserter! That is the way to go!
IPEX South Asia 2009 was held in Mumbai in October 2009. It was a rather small show and visitors travelling from far and near were probably expecting more from the show as they felt that after an hour there was nothing much to see. What is interesting is that it was an outrightly digital print show. Over 50% of the space was occupied by companies like HP, Xerox, Epson, Cannon and Kodak. The visitor profile was however very interesting. Industry leaders were seen popping in and out of the show even if it was for a very small time. The show was small but was always busy. I guess it was the strong brand that pulled the high profile visitors in. During this period HP, the industry leader in digital Print technology organized, “The HP Infotrends conference” at Grand Hyatt Hotel. Spread over two days with 20 speakers the show attracted 200 participants. I was pleasantly surprised to note the presence of leading label printers at the event. LMAI President Vivek Kapoor, Gururaj from Wintek Bangalore, Gautam Kothari from Interlabels, industry stalwarts like Narendra Prachuri of Pragati, Hyderabad and Gautham Pai of Manipal Press were amongst those who attended. Truly the buzzword in the label industry appears to be…DIGITAL!
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

The Guru

The headmaster was thoroughly disappointed with him! He never did well in his studies in school. He tried hard but would not be able to impress his teachers. Ironically his headmaster wrote on his report card, “you are destined to be a life’s failure!” This would hurt any youngster, it also hurt him a lot, but how many of them take it in their stride and accepts that as a stimulus to change and carve themselves a future? He accepted the challenge and indulged in a mind boggling effort to become an achiever. It was a stimulus that changed his life and provided him the reason to endeavor in achieving success. He had the will to refrain from being a school dropout and at a rather late age of 27 years he entered University. His first brush with the Labels was when he joined TIRA, the paper printing Organization for whom he successfully organized the first event, a conference. That was his entry point into the world of labels in the year 1974 for Mike Fairley!!! With awe referred to, as the international Label Guru!
At the last Finat Congress held at Antalya, Turkey Mike Fairley was unanimously selected as the winner of the prestigious R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award. Widely regarded as the label industry ‘guru’, Mike Fairley has been writing and talking about Labels for more than 30 years. In the year 1978 he founded the Labels and Labeling magazine and the Cowise International Publishing Group both of which are now a part of the Tarsus Group PLC. Mike has been a successful industry consultant, he has consistently been at the forefront of introducing the latest innovations in label materials, technology, markets and applications, as well helping label industry supplier and converter companies to implement their education, training and marketing strategies.
Sometime between 1978 and 1981 I was in England and came across the magazine labels and Labeling. I was immediately interested and wished to subscribe for the magazine. In those days of strict foreign exchange regime it was not easy to send money outside India in foreign exchange. Such was my wish to get this magazine that I found my way to Mike’s home in North of London and when I knocked at his door he was surprised that someone from India came all the way to find how he could get the magazine each month. From that small interaction I remembered him as an extremely pleasing personality. I met him twenty years later at Labelexpo Asia in Singapore waiting for taxi at the end of the day. Mike was the same the pleasing and smiling person ready to help and offered me to take the next taxi before him.
Thereafter I have been a close friend of Mike. I have always felt richer in my knowledge of labels each time after having met him and shared our thoughts about the industry. It makes me happy and proud that Mike is the recipient of the R Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award. This award will be conferred to him at the “Gala Dinner” organized for the World Label Awards ceremony on the 23rd of September 2009, in Brussels. The Labelexpo 2009 also begins on the same day. I am in awe that Mike Fairley continues to stay abreast with all the new developments in the industry around the globe. Having achieved tremendous amount of success, fame, appreciation and recognition… he continues to be modest. We wish him good health and look forward to many many more years of guidance to the Label industry.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008

Label Industry growing and still time to worry!

Recession hit the western world. It also in a little milder way affected the Indian industry. The label industry in India put up a brave front and never accepted that the downturn had hit them as it hit the label printers and industry suppliers around the world. While the economies around the world were sadly reporting recessionary trends and some actually declaring they were in the midst of a recession, Indian GDP was fortunately still growing. Thanks to the large population and a huge middle class driving demand for consumer products. While all in the Indian label industry have felt the small or big pinch, but they were in unison, “the demand for labels was always there.” Last few months have shown the sheer resolve of the Indian label printers, they started to invest in presses both new and used, conveying to the nation that, “it was time to grow” Even the industry suppliers were investing!
What is interesting is that even the big world players and producers of label materials (or Label stocks) who were facing the brunt of the slowdown in their home territories or in their major focus areas, were observing all this for a long time before the it dwelled  on them that it was going to get slow. They had already decided to move into India and had set up shop, they were well set to achieve their operating levels here. While their western operations were putting in their best to fight recession, here they were on way to prosperity. Merrily they were picking up market shares and acquiring units, adding capacity and lo! They are already market leaders. Our local producers were or even today are also expanding but they are running their plants at much slower speeds that they are accustomed to. The larger share of the market has been acquired by the multinationals while the remaining is still meaningful for the Indian producers as they are able to sell their capacities and are striving to sharpen their manufacturing capabilities to match the international standards. It is extremely difficult to match the price levels and financial capabilities of the large multinational players. It is evident that the local manufacturers will coexist with those foreigners, who when they came in were considered, “big brothers”…but in a much smaller way.
Label printers have continued to grow slowly and steadily in India. They have sharpened their skills. Today Indian label printers are a force to reckon with. They are equipped with the latest presses employing the finest of printing technologies. They continue to invest not only in pre press and high quality finishing equipment but also in the latest quality control systems including 100 percent defect detection systems. The Indian Label Association, LMAI is actively trying to project India as a major hub for outsourcing high quality labels for the label users in the western world. Many Indian label printers have invested and are successfully running label printing units in various countries. There are others who are continuously successful in exporting labels. The international acceptability has been achieved. Now the WORRY! Most of the bigger label printers are now worried by the increasing number of international label printing companies already here or planning investments in India. The size of the companies and the scale of their operations will obviously harm the interest of the Indian label printer. Our printers, even the larger ones run their companies with a handful of presses. Majority of them have just 1-5 presses but they have reason to express their concern when companies with scores of presses and huge investment move in taking with them there international customers away from those that these companies patronized. Definitely even when the market is growing… there are worries!
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008