SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Avery Dennison AIDC Summit 2017, at GOA!

It was business mixed with pleasure from the word go! As delegates landed at Goa’s Dabolim airport, office bearers of the AIDC Technologies Association of India were there to greet guests. The buses were waiting to take the arriving guests to a signature property The Lalit Golf and Spa Resort which is about one and a half hour drive from the airport. Snack packets and drinks were handed over to the guest for the way. It did build an aura of excitement of great hospitality waiting for the arriving members at this event. The office bearers of the association were very excited and greeting all arriving guests with smiles and hugs. 

As we deboarded the bus at the hotel, a Goan band was playing for us and then the president of AIDC Viral Vyas with his other office bearers was personally there to welcome the incoming guests.  Welcoming hostesses, came forward to garland arriving guest with garlands made of sea shells and offer welcome drinks before directing delegates to the registration desk for registration collecting room keys and their summit kits. Surprising as it may seem, lunch was still being served for incoming persons till 4pm. Guests were given an hour to reassemble for the inauguration of the summit/conference. It was an amazing, widely spread out resort on the beach which was exceptionally clean.

For me personally AIDC meant it was an association somewhat like the label association dealing with blank labels, printing and providing bar code printed labels to end users. The only extension appeared that they would also supply thermal transfer barcode printers and TTR rolls with some software support. This summit was an eye opener for me personally, realizing the amount and scale of technology that members of this association are involved with. AIDC stands for “Automatic Identification and Data Capture”.  It is a broad category of technologies used to collect information from an individual, object, image or sound without manual data entry.  AIDC systems are used to manage inventory, delivery, assets, security and documents. Sectors that use AIDC systems include distribution, manufacturing, transportation, medicine, government and retail, among many others. AIDC applications typically fall into one of a few categories: identification and validation at the source, tracking, and interfaces to other systems. 

As per Wikipedia, The actual technologies involved, the information obtained and the purpose of colletion vary widely. 
Current AIDC technologies include:
  • Barcodes are a bar of black and white vertical lines of variable thickness. These are as we see every day in retail and have been visible in our daily life routine. Higher end barcodes are used for industrial applications like track and trace.
2D barcodes store information not only horizontally, as one-dimensional barcodes do, but vertically as well. That construction enables 2D codes to store up to 7,089 characters. The traditional, unidimensional barcode has a 20-character capacity.
  • Magnetic stripes, as seen on credit cards, debit cards, key cards and swipe cards. The stripe consists of iron-based magnetic particles in plastic-like tape. Each particle is a tiny bar magnet. Information is written on the stripe by magnetizing the tiny bars in either a north or South Pole direction. The writing process, called flux reversal, causes changes in the magnetic field that can be detected by a magnetic stripe reader.
  • Smart cards, which are plastic cards about the size of a credit card with an embedded microchip. A smart card can store much more data than a magnetic stripe card. It can be loaded with data, used for telephone calling, electronic cash payments, accessing services and other applications. The card can be refreshed for reuse. Some smart cards can include programming and support multiple applications.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR), which is the recognition of printed or written text characters by a computer. The process includes scanning the text character-by-character, analyzing the resulting character image and translating that image into a machine-readable character code, such as ASCII. Among other things, OCR is used to digitize documents and books, sort mail, and process checks and mail-based payments by credit cards.
  • Radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, which consist of three components: an antenna and transceiver (often combined into a single device) and a transponder (the tag). The antenna transmits a signal that activates the transponder, which then transmits data back to the antenna. The data is used to notify a programmable logic controller that some specific action should occur. Because RFID does not require direct contact or line-of-sight scanning, RFID tags are replacing barcodes in many applications.
  • Biometrics: Various biometrics applications, which identify individuals by comparing captured biological data, such as fingerprints, voice characteristics and iris patterns, against stored data for that individual.  Biometric systems consist of a reader or scanning device, software that converts the scanned biological data into a digital format and compares match points, and a database that stores the biometric data for comparison. Authentication by biometric verification is becoming increasingly common in corporate and public security systems, consumer electronics and point of sale (POS) applications. Specific biometric AIDC technologies include finger scanning, electro-optical fingerprint recognition, finger vein ID and voice recognition.
  • The Internet of things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as "connected devices" and "smart devices"), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

The AIDC summit titled “Tarang-The wave of digital India” was thrown open by lighting of the traditional lamp. After the secretary AIDC’s speech Pankaj Bhardwaj Senior Director and General Manager of Avery Dennison delivered the keynote address, appreciating the work of the AIDC association he added, a young and educated India is bound to ensure growth and emerging of new technologies and that Avery is committed to empowering their customers with knowledge. 

Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated papers spoke on the enhanced reach and capabilities of SMI in regards to labelstocks manufactured by them. Other presentations were made by HP, Guagzhou Shangchen Electronic company, Novexx Solution, Stic-on papers and Epson. 

This was followed by entertainment program and networking cocktails.

The next morning after the secretary’s speech the representative from GS1 came onstage to give a very informative lecture on the role of GS1 and the developments being made on evolution of data sharing and tracking with barcodes. GS1 India is a Standards body (registered under Societies Registration Act 1860) with founder members comprising Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, FIEO, IMC, APEDA, Spices Board, IIP and BIS. It is affiliated with GS1® a not for profit global standards organisation. 

After a presentation by Avery Dennison on their products, a panel discussion took place on “Opportunity for AIDC industry in Transportation, Logistics and Retail Verticals.” Rohit Mehta of SMI spoke on labelstock selection procedures. He also informed that SMI had launched an App that can help users identify the product, its quantity, substrate and adhesive requirement. Chainway India spoke on their handheld RFID readers and devices. Ricoh Thermal informed the conference about their company, infrastructure and sales network that they have setup in India for their TTR Ribbons and other products. 

This was followed by a panel discussion on services and regulatory in respect of healthcare, Government, transportation. After a presentation by Honeywell International, the survey vertical by AIDC association was made public. 

It was indeed an interesting and informative session. According to the survey out of the total 52 companies reviewed, 32 companies had revenues of less than Rs. 5 Crores, 13 companies had between Rs. 6-20 Crores, 4 companies reported revenues of Rs.21-50 Crores, only one company had reported between Rs.51-75 and 3 companies had revenues in excess of Rs. 76 Crores. As regards usage of Labelstocks Avery Dennison heads the chart with over 50% market share in this segment of the label industry. The final session had more presentations from Todaytec, PGI Technologies, Xiamen Hanin, Armor, Heyday global Retail solutions and technologies before the final panel discussion on IOT (Internet of Things). IOT speaks about computers and smart devices communicating amongst themselves for data proliferation.  It indeed was a conference full of high level of technological presentations about offerings of sponsors. There was also a table top exhibition for sponsors to display on the sidelines of the conference.
Before the conference finally came to an end the AIDC association management lead bypresident Viral Vyas called me, Harveer Sahni, Chairman of Weldon Celloplast Limited to the stage to felicitate and honour me for having spent almost 40 years in the Indian label industry and for my contribution thereof. I was overwhelmed and in my small address to the audience I thanked all for this honour and spoke on the need to mentor and empower our generation next so that the growth and expansion of the enterprises the first generation has painstaking built is infused with the energy of the youth and new ideas to take the industry forward on a path of steady and continuous growth.

The conference ended but the fun part started with wonderful performances followed by the bar being thrown open. Feeling lighter, the members hit the dance floor and carried on till the wee hours of the morning taking back memories to motivate them to look forward to yet another edition next year.

Written By Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi June 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Anuj Bhargava, Kumar Labels: Destiny drove him to labels!

While still in school Anuj Bhargava loved good music and the quality of sound stirred up emotions within him such that he wished to make it better. He was in class six of New Delhi’s prominent Delhi Public School, when he developed an amplifier and sold it to a friend. Encouraged by the deal he went on to make almost 50 more such equipment and sold to friends and relatives at that young age. The interest in electronics lead him join YCCE College of engineering and pursue further studies leading to BE (Bachelor of Engineering) in electronics.  Thereafter he went to USA to do MS in electronics. As luck would have it, after the first semester he had a change of heart and switched to study industrial engineering. He worked to support his education while studying in America. On completing his masters in Industrial Engineering, Anuj took up employment in the central engineering department of Corning Glass for display technology. His job required him to coordinate with all Corning plants in various countries like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, etc. In 2002 itself he got posted to their plant in Japan. As luck would have it, before he arrived the company’s packaging development engineer had left job and Anuj was asked to replace him. Anuj whose family was in printing and packaging, had advised him to avoid printing and packaging as a career but that is kismet! Fate had destined him elsewhere he wished one day to be in electronics, another day he wanted to be in the furniture business but had to give up due to the huge investment needed, finally landed up with a job in a global company in their packaging department for large sized glassware.

In 2006 Anuj resigned from his job and returned back home. His father S K Bhargava was
planning to visit Ipex exhibition in Birmingham, Anuj decided to accompany him to visit the premier show in printing and packaging. While in college he was greatly influenced by a professor who was an expert and consultant to aerospace industry on lean management. Lean management was a subject Anuj always felt would be an asset to manufacturing which he would eventually indulge in. Digital printing appealed to him and implementation of lean manufacturing principles in the process seemed to be in synergy. Moreover digital printing appealed to him because of instant creativity and delivering possibilities that it offered. All through at Ipex show he kept studying digital printing but yet again fate had other plans for him. By end of Ipex he realized PSA labels were talk of the time. The growth that it was offering and the possibility of success on indulgence made him decide to seriously contemplate labels as his business. Strange as it is, destiny drove him to labels.

M K Bhargava, Chairman Kumar Printers
Anuj is from the second generation of the Bhargava family who scaled immense success in the printing industry in North. His uncle M K Bhagava who has been a mentor to Anuj, is the eldest of the three brothers, initiated his career in printing as a freelancer. He would seek orders from customers and outsource printing form other printing companies like Delhi Press, Zodiac Printers etc. In 1964 M K Bhargava started his maiden venture Kumar Printers with a leased single colour Dominant press, from a 200-300 square foot factory in Doriwalan in Karol Bagh Delhi. The second brother N C Bhargava and Anuj’s father; the youngest of the siblings, S K Bharagava who was pursuing studies at Allahabad Print College, joined Kumar Printers soon after. In 1970 all three brothers joined in Kumar Printers to take the business forward. M K Bhargava had gained knowledge from having worked with established printers during his stint as a freelance printer and it helped them establish and grow their maiden venture. With deep commitment to human values, quality, integrity and hard work, the family grew their business. Their mantra for themselves as also to their generation next was that each one had to work his way up in life and nothing would come to them served on a platter. They encouraged their second generation to set up their own ventures. M K Bhargava ‘s son Sandeep is an alumni of IIT Chennai, Sanjeev son of N C Bhargava is an MBA and Anuj has been described in the opening paragraph of this article. Sandeep inherited the reigns of Kumar Printers while his father still continues to be with him at work at an age of 83 years, Sanjeev set up his venture Premier Paper Packaging and S K Bhargava‘s only son Anuj set up his maiden venture Kumar labels. Interesting to note that the elder Bhargava brothers continue to be together as directors at Kumar Printers while their second generation, have set up new businesses separately. All three ventures are successful and continue to grow. The family businesses do not compete amongst themselves.

When destiny appeared to have lead him to labels, AnujBhargava on return from the Ipex trip in 2006 decided to evaluate a life in labels. In the process he did a feasibility study, met prospective customers and wrote a business plan. He spoke to many label printers and was surprised that most people suggested that he invest in a Mark Andy rotary flexo press, a very popular brand those days. Anuj was not impulsively indulgent, the as he researched, he came to the conclusion that major end user customers had now started to demand short runs on a regular basis. He saw the gap in that segment and decided to go for an intermittent Letterpress label machine instead of a rotary press that was suited for larger volumes as he saw a demand for short runs growing and smaller run supplies from rotary flexo printers coming hesitantly. Before investing in a press, he ordered a plate making machine. With negatives and plates he left for Korea and Taiwan. Using the same plates he got samples printed on various presses that included Iwasaki, Shiki, Bangsung, STR, Dolphin, Mida and Orthotec to do a decision analysis. While in Corning glass, he had learnt about Kepener Tregoe problem solving and decision making tool. This tool is used by all aerospace companies. Since he had been trained to use this tool he used it to make comparison and evaluation of the printed samples. On completion of analysis, Bangsung won with the highest numbers and the decision was made. The order was finally placed with Bangsung. As luck would have Anuj got a nod from PNB for machine loan based on which he placed order for the machine. However at the very last moment PNB declined and within 15 days Anuj obtained funding from SIDBI (Small Industries Bank of India).

It all started in 2007 with the arrival of his first label press, an intermittent Bangsung at a
The die cutting machine developed by Anuj
1740 square feet rented factory in Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi. Two years later in 2009, Anuj bought another identical Bangsung press and the shop floor space in Okhla fell short. In 2011 he shifted his factory to an 18000 square feet rented factory in Sector 83 NOIDA, on the outskirts of Delhi. He also added an inspection machine and a screen printing equipment. With space at his disposal and business growing, the outgoing entrepreneur in Anuj became unstoppable. In 2012 he added two Multitecflexo rotary label presses. One was installed in January 2012 and another in June 2012. In the same year Anuj started his own captive machine division to build semi rotary intermittent registered die cutting machine. He showcased this equipment initially at Labelexpo India 2012 and later at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels in 2013 and 2015. Till date he has sold 16 machines and all are working well. He is proud to say repeat orders came from export markets of Poland and Korea. In 2013 Anuj decided to integrate backwards and started to produce silicon release papers and self adhesive labelstocks for his captive consumption. 

The Gallus at Kumar Labels
By this time in 2013 not only was the space in the factory getting crowded but the lease was expiring and the landlord also was not willing to renew. Anuj, took the bold step of buying a plot of land admeasuring 1750 square Meters in Greater Noida. In 2014 he started construction, finished it in a record time of 48 days due to pressure of vacating the previous premises and moved into the new 25000 square foot factory in September 2014. Once operational in their owned new factory, Anuj bought another screen printing machine, a Gallus label press, and many ancillary equipment. For his label sock manufacturing he added equipment to produce label materials with special effects and textures. In the same year he filed two patents. A year on in 2015 Anuj bought the adjacent 1800 square Meters of land for further expansion.

Kumar labels is Anuj Bhargava ‘s sole proprietorship company, reminiscing his earliest days
Anuj Bhargava with Harveer Sahni
when he started printing labels he mentions his first customer that was his big  break, was Bausch & Laumb. They gave him a complicated label with a very tight registration to print. However much they tried they were not getting it right. That night he himself stood on the machine and kept on trying and finally got it right at 3am in the morning. He took the materials in his car and supplied to the customer some 80 Kms away and returned home at 5.30 am. Anuj has active support from his wife Somya, a Bangalore girl he married after his first year in labels. They have two children a daughter aged 6 and a son aged 4. Somya is an engineer with MBA and looks after Finance, procurement and HR and comes to work Mondays to Fridays. Kumar labels, is presently working with 9 label presses, 105 employees and a shop floor 25000 square feet in size. They have additional land next door for expansion. Anuj believes in continuously training employees so that they are not left stranded when some employees quit. He proudly states that he has trained over 300 persons in label conversion but is not comfortable with the fact that in this industry skilled employee retention is a problem. This so, at a time when competition is getting to be intense and reverse auctions making life very uneasy. He plans to shortly start a special technical training program under the aegis of Government of India SkillDevelopment Program.

As for future Anuj wishes to concentrate on art of print and create innovations in labels. He wishes his enterprise to be a front runner in decoration of labels for leading brands where quality and innovation will matter and not just volumes. He wants and is committed to make his business grow 15% per annum not just in top line but in the bottom lines so that with added profitability he can invest more in creativity. Digital printing does catch his interest and the indulgence may happen soon when his plans and ideas for it fall into place. He is also in the process of developing a process to reduce waste in self adhesive labels by almost 50% but for that he says, “I will divulge later when ready”.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director,Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India May 2017

The article was first printed in Printweek India.