SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Saturday, December 25, 2010

“ Funtime at Labelexpo India 2010”

Labelexpo India 2010 was fun time for the Label Industry. Sometime it is not words but the pictures that say it all. I reproduce some pictures of the show and of the parties held alongwith on the side. Enjoy! 

The show opened with the lighting of the traditional lamp by Roger Pellow, Managing Director Labelexpo Group and Government Officials. Earlier the LMAI President Vivek Kapoor and Treasurer, Sandeep Zaveri also spoke and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

BST team at their stand stand!
Weldon team at their Stand.

Creed Engineers Stand.

Omet stand.

Multitec Stand

The picture on left is Finat LMAI Young Managers Club meet in progress.

Birds of a feather flock together, Sandhya Shetty of Synpac and Bibiana of Rotatek with another participant in the middle, enjoy the networking opportunity during coffee break.

The not so young also found their way to the young manager's meet and found a cozy corner. Jan Fredrik Vink, Past President Finat with Ms. Rodriguez of Rotatek. Cheers!

Pawandeep Sahni, Member Finat board for YMC and also General Secretary LMAI YMC with Roger Pellow, Managing Director Labelexpo group.

Creed Team at Label awards.

Harveer Sahni speaking at the awards night after being honoured for rendering services as judge for World Label.Association Awards at Brussels.

KayDee Sahni of Weldon Celloplast and Chandan Khanna of Ajanta Packaging chill at the LMAI Label Awards night.

Kaydee Sahni of Weldon and Sheila Harper (of Techtonics) dance to popular tune "Sheila Ki Jawani" with music blaring from Kaydee's car parked in the Weldon Home's drive way.

At the Weldon dinner.In the picture on right from left to right Douglas Emslie (Group Managing Director-Tarsus), Gary Hendel(Delta, USA), Harveer Sahni (Weldon), Paolo Grasso (Omet), Mike Fairley (Label Guru), Roger Pellow (Managing Director-Labelexpo group), Kavneet Sahni(Tarsus) and in front Andy Thomas (Group Editor Labels and  Labeling)

In the picture on left, Isidore Leiser of Stratus Packaging, France in a "Balle Balle" mood at the Weldon party.

The picture on right has Gary Hendel (Delta USA) and Raul Sylvestre(Lartec) doing a Panjabi Bhangra number at the Weldon party.

Label Guru and me...

The above feature is compiled by Harveer Sahni Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Ltd,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Aspiring for Global Attention!

Aspiring for Global Attention!

Multitec Factory
Shanti Pal Ahuja was an energetic young man of 24 years when he joined as a director in Sud & Warren, an Engineering company promoted by his close relatives. It was in the early sixties that the promoters of Sud & Warren, Baldev Sud, K L Arora and Ahuja (Shanti Pal Ahuja’s elder brother) foresaw the potential of computer related products and there consumables. Using imported equipment they started to produce computer stationery and business forms. Shanti Pal Ahuja was deputed to go to Germany for getting technical training on the machines that they were using.  In those days of strict and controlled foreign exchange regime, getting import licenses and foreign exchange for imports was a difficult task. The hardship that they faced in importing machines or their spare parts led them to start their own venture, Sud & Warren. With Shanti Pal Ahuja as their technical Director the company started to build paper converting machines for their captive use as well for those in the similar trade. It was just a matter of time that the venture found success.
By 1983, a restless Shanti Pal Ahuja wanted to venture out on his own. He promoted Multitec Aids Pvt Ltd. to produce paper converting machines including equipment for making computer stationery. In fact he chose a product profile quite similar to that at Sud & Warren. He was fortunate that the bankers whom he approached knew his potential and experience from his days at Sud & Warren, so finance came relatively easy. After setting up the unit, the earliest success came from his efforts to associate with Indian Railways in indigenizing the machines for production of card tickets being used in those days. These tickets were being printed on old British machines. He fondly remembers that once his machines were in place, the Railways were printing, “2 tons of card tickets per day”. This order was followed up by providing machines for producing computer generated tickets for “Rajdhani Express” train.  He also reminisces the time he got a lot of praise from Times of India management for having suggested and supplied to them a bailing press for waste management. Due to this their facility became much cleaner and manageable. Despite producing some ancillary equipment, Multitec was primarily a manufacturer of computer stationery converting machines. The printing technique used on these machines was initially letterpress and then later web offset with high speed rotary converting. Till date Multitec has made over 600 installations, which are servicing their owners well.
Thirteen years after Shanti Pal Ahuja ventured out on his own his only son Amit Ahuja, alumni of Manipal Engineering College, was ready to join him in business. Amit a qualified mechanical engineer with a penchant for computer aided designing had ideas of diversifying in to other arenas and developing new machines. He found support from his father. The father son duo dwelled on the future of their present business and foresaw the end of growth or decline in the dot matrix computer stationery market. This was due to the dramatic growth in the A4 inkjet and laser printer markets. As technology advances to make these desktop printers faster and affordable coupled with rising demand for paperless offices, the demand for computer stationery in fanfold format with sprocket holes witnesses a steady decline. At this point of time it was a necessity to consider Amit’s proposal to diversify. Since Ahujas had adequate experience in web converting, they became serious when a customer friend Abhay Datta of Datta Press convinced them to join hands with him to produce a narrow web label press. The self adhesive label industry in India was registering high growth rates and the equipment was in synergy with their production program. It did not take much time for the Ahujas to decide on indulgence in this diversification. Amit’s father remembered his own history of having been trained in Germany on the machines that he later started to build in Sud & Warren. He decided it would be appropriate for Amit also to do a stint on machines that he was going to build. Soon the son was on way to North Carolina USA to train as an operator on Mark Andy flexo label presses. With engineering qualifications and experience at Multitec, it was easy for Amit to grasp the nuances of working with flexographic label printing presses.  The Industry is witness to the fact that people were surprised when at India Label Show 2002 at Nehru Centre, Mumbai, Abhay Datta was proudly displaying the Multiflex press built at Multitec Faridabad. The press was sold to a customer in Iran. Ahujas maintained a low profile at that show. They sold a few more presses but as luck would have it, discontent appeared in their relationship with Datta. Ahujas felt that they were not penetrating the market effectively and if a definite business plan was not put in place they would loose out. The association 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.
Their efforts produced results! In last 20 months they have sold 18 presses. They are almost at the initial target they set themselves, “A label press every month”.  Multitec operates out of a 45000 square feet factory located on the outskirts of Faridabad, a suburban town in NCR Delhi and built on a plot of over 6 acres. It assures them availability of adequate space for future expansion. While most operations are handled at Faridabad, they have a marketing office a Mumbai. With a workforce of 80 they export 20% of their production. The factory is equipped with designing capabilities, CNC machines, computerized testing facilities, etc. They also have a demo centre where an Ecoflex press is kept on display for prospective customers to conduct trials. The most satisfying moment of their careers till now remains the time when they exported their label press to a mature market like Germany. Although 50% of their turnover comes from making computer stationery converting machines, label presses remains a focus area for them. They feel the label industry in India is largely unorganized however with continuous growth the label printers seem to be putting their act together and adopting modern production and management techniques. Multitec’s customer list includes big names like The Express Group, Times of India, Hindustan times, Avery Dennison, Technova, Thomson Press, etc. The company is committed to provide value for money. Amit feels that that for growing and improving upon their offerings the volumes need to go up. Though Amit is quite focused at present on making flexo printing presses, however from their capabilities and experience of making printing web by letterpress and offset, makes building a high-end combination label press one day, a strong possibility. They plan to exhibit their new development an all UV model of Ecoflex at Labelexpo 2010. Also on display at this show will be a module of their “Easyflex” which they feel will be an eye opener for the Industry. Trials have also begun on an all servo press with auto register features. If all goes as planned, this model will be displayed at Labelexpo Brussels next year in 2011.
With his father steadily withdrawing from this business to spend more time in trading in real estate which has given him rich returns, Amit has his hands full with so much more to achieve. His only son Avii, is only 8 years old. His wife Ashima, who is a homemaker, would prefer to be in the real estate business helping the elder Ahuja. Occasionally she does travel with her father in law to check out properties and learn about the trade.  Amit works hard and hopes to excel in his field of building good label presses. He is confident that there are very good times ahead for Multitec. He is committed to adopt the latest technologies in web converting. He is sure after Labelexpo 2010 Brussels, Multitec will get “Global Attention”.
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 30th November, 2010 for magazine "Packaging South Asia "

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Recognition of an effort always generates satisfaction and encourages further indulgence!
Harveer Sahni

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Service at your doorstep!

Service at your doorstep

Rising prices and intense competition have made leading label printers to sit up and dip into their think tanks. To cater to the exacting demands of their customers, they need to upgrade their equipment with huge capital investment. To service the cost of these investments, they need to retain margins at a reasonable level. End user customers continue to demand better quality and service at better prices. With escalating raw material prices, label printers are considering cost effective processes to lower production costs. Large production runs, online defect detection to avoid rejections, lesser downtimes, operator efficiency, etc. are some of the issues that are being attended to. On the other hand printers are investing in complimentary equipments that can take smaller production runs economically. Cheaper flatbed presses, Chinese presses and second hand presses are being used to cater to the demands of smaller volume orders from large customers. No label printer supplying to a large volume customer would risk sending the customer to another printer for a smaller order. Neither can they afford to take small runs in their main expensive label presses increasing their downtime, expenses and production costs. While these cheaper equipments were being used for shorter runs yet there was a need for alternatives. Digital printing seems to be the ideal situation. As printing speed picks up and inks get cheaper, this technology is likely to be adopted by many large printers. All these are efforts to retain customers. Customer retention is a challenge that is facing many big label printers. Price is of course a sensitive issue but there are other factors that have also been becoming reasons for customers to shift loyalties. One big concern has been logistics. Printers, who were initially small in size, concentrated themselves in specific geographical zones. With growing demand for consumer and retail products, manufacturers or label buyers started to locate themselves across the nation, it became imperative for them to look for vendors closer to their facilities. As label printers grew in size with enhanced capital expenditures, it became a compulsion for them to retain these customers, who had multiple manufacturing locations.  These customers were demanding just in time deliveries to control their inventory levels and to ensure strict delivery program. It was time for label printers to assure their customers, “Service at Doorstep”.
Gautam Kothari
Interlabels, headquartered in Mumbai and leading label printers in India, started the trend of manufacturing at more then one location. They started by setting up their second unit in India at Delhi and then followed it up with units at Baddi, Kolkata and Chennai. They also have a unit in Nairobi Kenya, taking the total no. of units to six. They are now in the mood to consolidate before considering further locations. Gautam Kothari of Interlabels says “The trend in recent days is such that a lot of the customers want their suppliers to be close to their manufacturing locations. This, because the lead time needed to execute an order has shortened considerably due to market pressure. India being a huge country, catering to all the regions from one location is difficult. Having multiple manufacturing locations has helped us to reduce the time to get the material reaching them apart from reducing the freight cost.” He goes on to further add, “The concept of multiple locations for us is extremely beneficial as our customers are based all over the country and speed of response is essential. As far as manufacturing goes, it helps in better servicing however at a cost since having multi-location manufacturing does add to much higher operational costs which no customer is willing to pay for”. 
Amar Chhajed 
Amar Chajjed of Webtech, Mumbai who has a voracious appetite for expansion and growth was one of the first one to start (his second) a manufacturing unit in Himachal Pradesh near Baddi. He finds the experience extremely beneficial and says, “If it would not appear so, we would not do it” He feels it is one of the ways to grow and hopes to add two more locations in India or elsewhere in Asia.  Chandan Khanna of Ajanta Packaging says, “Having multiple locations is a part of Ajanta’s growth plan. Moreover it is in line with our commitment to our customers that we will go with you and grow with you” They have three manufacturing locations for label printing at Baddi, Daman and Sharjah (UAE).  Their corporate office and offset printing operations are in Mumbai. They also have marketing offices in Kolkata and Chennai.  According to Chandan, “If you have the patience and power to invest, multi-location manufacturing is highly beneficial. Ajanta will definitely add another location by 2012”.
Chandan Khanna on right
This mantra for growth is not restricted to printers in western India. NOIDA (Near Delhi) based Prakash Labels have also expanded to many manufacturing locations. Dinesh Mahajan heading the Praksash Labels management team states, “To serve customers in a vast country like India one has to be located in all zones if you wish to have a national presence”. Prakash labels have three manufacturing units in Noida, one in Baddi and one in Mumbai. Besides this they have marketing offices in various cities including Ajman, UAE. They are present in eight different cities. Dinesh further adds, “It is a definite way to grow”. Though they are fairly big in size he said he would be everywhere if he was bigger. They have recently put up the Mumbai unit so it will be a while before they think of yet another location. Zircon another Noida based label printer who commenced operations just a couple of years ago, has been reporting continuous expansion by adding new equipments. According to Sanjeev, heading Zircon, they have two manufacturing locations already and plan to add two more by end of 2011. Sanjeev feels that having multiple manufacturing locations is beneficial for rapid growth even though it needs a lot of administrative and supply chain management. I was quite surprised when Coimbatore (South India) based Rajiv Nair of Stallion Systems said, “We have four manufacturing locations and 16 marketing offices!” Rajiv used to work for another label company some years ago. Once he was on his own his company achieved grew vertical growth. He says,” Due to delivery delays to pan India customer base and high freight costs, it became necessary for us to locate at different places”.  Stallion benefitted from the decision and feel that it is the way to grow. They will continue to add more locations with better equipment.
Other label printers who have invested in multiple locations manufacturing and marketing include Unique Photo Offset, Syndicate Printers, Paper Products, Sai Security and a few others. Customer service is now acquiring new dimensions as end user demand just in time service along with delivery. This helps the end users of labels to manage their inventory, production and achieve better profitability. The parameters of vendor selection are now just not limited to price and quality. The label users are auditing their prospective vendors more rigorously. While price and quality are important yet logistics, social responsibility and environmental concerns are also considerations that decide in vendor selection. Vendors need to be extremely responsive to their customers growing demands and concerns. Proximity of the label printer to the manufacturing facility of their customers and capability to provide world class service has become necessary. There is a paradigm shift in the way label printers look at their expansion plans. Locating themselves strategically is now imperative for label printers to be able to provide, “SERVICE AT DOORSTEP.”
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 30th November, 2010 for magazine "Packaging South Asia "