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 http://www.weldoncelloplast.com/