LMAI, The Label Manufacturers Association of India has been spreading the message of an imperative need of implementing sustainability in their member’s products and manufacturing processes. Earlier this year in July 2023 for the highly successful and largely attended LMAI conference at Jaipur, the theme was, “Creativity Innovation and Sustainability”. Leading industry suppliers delivered presentations at the conference on how they were making their product offerings sustainable.

In my article titled “Sustainability and circular economy in manufacturing labels” and available on this blog, as also in my opening remarks during a panel discussion at the LMAI conference 2023 at Jaipur, I mentioned, “Sustainability in its simplest terms means, giving back to Mother-Earth or environment, society, or economy, whatever you draw from it. It ultimately delivers a message for us to leave a safer planet with minimum or no depletion of resources, for generations that follow, after meeting your own imperative needs”. Taking the initiative forward and reaching out to the label fraternity in the north of India, on the 13th of October 2023, LMAI organized an event titled, “4R’s of sustainability”. The 4 R’s stand for Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Report which sum up the sustainability endeavors.

Avery Dennison was the main sponsor for the event and provided two out of the three speakers, namely Sumantha Das, a specialist in sustainability from Avery Dennison, Amit Saxena, an Operations Leader who has led Supply Chain, Capital projects and manufacturing in marquee companies like Hewlett Packard, Mondelez, Merck and in Abbott Healthcare as Director Operations and Raj Karodiya: senior executive-partner growth and a specialist on EPR(Extended producer responsibility) from “The Trash Company” who are consultants to Avery Dennison and other brand owners for EPR Registration. 

Sumantha Das touched upon the four R’s of  sustainability and  goals targeted for achievement by 2030. 

Amit Saxena , spoke about the drivers for sustainability in Operations of companies in FMCG, Chemicals and Pharma. He stressed on the need to  cut wastages and save on all processes in operations which include, downtime, energy consumption, labour costs, packaging and logistics. 

The final speaker Raj Koradiya gave eye-opening insights into EPR, its compliances and penal provisions.

Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) regime is under implementation in Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, according to which it is the responsibility of Producers, Importers and Brand-owners to ensure processing of their plastic packaging waste through recycling, re-use or end of life disposal. Commenting on the implications of EPR which also impacts the label fraternity, Rajesh Chadha Director on board of LMAI and owner of Delhi based Update Prints said, “We have been given to understand that EPR registration is mandatory for all producers (including convertors) who generate plastic waste, irrespective of the size of the business. Only Micro and Small business brand owners are exempt from this and the onus for their waste generated also falls on the converters who are classified as producers.

The consequences of not registering in EPR are that the total plastic waste generation liability falls on the converter only,  and heavy fines are there on per ton basis of plastic produced /converted. Further since the EPR portal  is centralized by the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board), data about converters can easily be obtained through labelstock producers who are already registered in the EPR portal like Avery, UPM etc. In view of the above it is requested of all label converters to come forward and comply by with the same as soon as possible,  as time is short and deadline for registration is Oct 31st, 2023, this may or may not be extended.”

He also reiterated that on behalf of LMAI, “If we have a decent number of converters wanting to apply, LMAI can negotiate with this company ( or any other for that matter) to make the process economical and easier for all the converters and printers”.  Adding to this Amit Sheth another Director and founder of LMAI says, “It is an important subject which all of us must pass through one day. Even machine sellers also must register for using plastics for machine covers and packing “. He further adds, “It will be a good initiative by LMAI for its members if they come forward in substantial numbers”.

As per the EPR portal; https://eprplastic.cpcb.gov.in/#/plastic/home/pibopwp

Responsibilites of PIBOS

PIBO stands for producer, importer and brandowners. If you identify as PIBO and have your operations in India that uses plastic packaging as part of your operation, irrespective of your turnover or scale of operations you fall under the obligation of EPR. Under the current framework of EPR, PIBO are responsible to

  1. Register at EPR Portal
  2. Submit their Action plan
  3. Fulfill obligations for :-
    1. Recycling
    2. Use of Recycled content
    3. Reuse
    4. End of life disposal
    5. Optional engagement in collection and recovery of the plastics
    6. Submit annual returns
    7. Provide proof of certificates (Plastic credits)
    8. PIBOs can engage with PRO’s or other agencies separately to fulfill their targets but reporting and responsibility to fulfill the obligations is completely of PIBO

The event at Chandigarh was organized by LMAI at Novotel Hotel in Chandigarh and was attended by over 100 delegates from Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The event was moderated by LMAI secretary Jaideep Singh who travelled from Hyderabad. Speaking about LMAI and introducing the industry association to the widespread audience he said;

LMAI, the Label Manufacturers Association of India, is the representative body of the self-adhesive label printing fraternity of India. The ordinary members of the association are essentially producers of self-adhesive labels in roll form. LMAI was founded with just around 5 or 6 printers, by the efforts of Amit Sheth. Over the years LMAI has grown from strength to strength and now has around 400 members. LMAI regularly conducts seminars, panel discussions and culminating in the huge biennial LMAI conference. LMAI conferences in the past have been enormous successes at five- or seven-star properties at venues like Goa, Agra, Jaipur and Kochi. The last two events have recorded around 700 delegates from printer members , suppliers and their families. It is perhaps the biggest label industry event in the world with  a spend running into Millions of Rupees.

LMAI has partnered with Tarsus UK, now a part of Informa, for promoting Labelexpo India and Tarsus supporting LMAI for their events for the betterment of Indian labels industry. LMAI is a part of L9, the confederation of World’s nine leading label association and is recognized by Finat, the joint global platform for the international labelling industry. LMAI regularly conducts the LMAI awards for excellence in creating labels. It has also interacted with the MSME ministry for getting benefits for label industry. The winners of LMAI awards automatically qualify for submitting their entries for world label awards. LMAI sends two judges for the judging of the World label awards. At the judging held last month in Brussels on the sidelines of Labelexpo Europe, our LMAI founder Amit Sheth and Harveer Sahni were judges representing LMAI.

Vivek Kapoor, Rajesh Chadha and Jaideep Singh

LMAI has been making efforts to create knowledge delivery programs and  organising events to bring leading FMCG buyers to express the needs of print buyers and for them to understand the printers. Our senior office bearers Rajesh Chadha, Vivek Kapoor, Amit Sheth, Harveer Sahni and Jaideep Singh,  have travelled from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi to be with you all today”.

Concluding his speech, Jaideep informed the gathering that the LMAI president Rajesh Nema had fallen ill and could not travel to attend this event. He also informed that with the label industry expanding it reach in smaller towns of India, LMAI Presidents in their terms, will include regional representatives in their management teams for a wider reach and conduct programs in all geographical zones of the country for the benefit of its members. The presentations ended with a vote of thanks delivered by Vishal Vohra of Stic Prints Chandigarh and followed by cocktails and dinner. 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi in October 2023

Absence makes the heart grow fonder! There was a general perception that the impact of a fierce pandemic, the Finnish Paper Mills strike, Ukraine war, shortages and rising raw material prices, difficult logistics and increased travel costs have left the market sentiments bruised. There was strong narrative doing the rounds in the labels industry that Labelexpo Europe 2023 at Brussels will lose its sheen and may not deliver the desired results. Contrary to all perceptions the show was a huge success. The numbers may have been slightly lower than the previous years, but the quality of turnout brought cheer to the faces of exhibitors. The proof of that is given by the reported rebook rate for the next edition of this important event by Tarsus, announced at a whopping 96%! Labelexpo Europe 2023 was spread over 9 halls covering 35889 square meters. 36588 visitors flocked to the show, coming from 138 countries. Most stands reported robust enquiries or sales from established and serious printers from around the world. Though the aisles were not as crowded as in previous shows, the stands were busy. That is exactly what exhibitors expect from a globally renowned show. I cite a personal experience, I had to conduct an important meeting with one of our company’s several principals. Despite visiting their stand on all days at various times, the concerned person was busy with clients, finally I had to ask him to come to another meeting point other than his stand, so that we could discuss our project in peace. Such was the deliverance of Labelexpo 2023.

The Indian presence; The Indian labels and packaging industry has been continuously growing at steady pace to reach a position of stability and strength. The Indian visitors to labelexpo have also transformed. Earlier we saw many of those who mixed their visit with tourism, so the interest was diluted, and the enquiries lacked seriousness. This trend is seen as changing, given the increased travel costs and technologies evolving in different packaging segments, the smaller printers prefer to visit the domestic editions of Labelexpo. 

In 2005, my company was the only one from India to exhibit at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels, over years the number of Indian exhibitors has been growing. Indian producers of materials, machines and tooling have improved in quality to match global levels and offer their products in the international marketplace. 

From just the one exhibitor from India displaying labelstock in 2005 they reached 14 exhibitors in 2017, and in 2023 the number of Indian exhibitors grew to 26. This number included several label press manufacturers, manufacturers of coaters and laminators, raw material suppliers, tooling manufacturers, etc. In fact, registering their presence in all segments of label manufacturing. As for the visitors, it is an even more interesting result. In 2019 2% of the total of 37903 visitors were from India.

This works out to over 750 visitors. This figure has swelled! In Labelexpo Europe 2023. Indian visitors were 3.9% of the total of 36588 visitors and this works out to over 1400 visitors, almost double the number. We can imagine the dynamism and steady growth of “make in India” concept. The Indians are now quick learners who visit these shows and become adapters of global technologies to produce and offer to the world.

Diverse technologies displayed: Labelexpo global series was in the initial stages aimed at growth of stickers that had evolved as self-adhesive labels. The earliest web label presses were largely coming from eastern part of the World as 4 or 5-inch-wide flatbed letterpress machines for printing labels in roll form to eventually transform with development of label applicators, it led to automation in packaging lines.

Development and introduction of rotary flexographic label presses brought a paradigm shift as it provided better speed of printing.

Since the web width in the earliest stages was small, the industry eventually started being referred to as narrow web label industry. The rest is history. With evolution and development of prepress printing speeds and quality also improved making the technology widely acceptable. Printing widths increased to 10 inches or 250 mm and had for quite some time settled at 330mm.

Speeds that were just 5 or 6 meters per minute in the beginning with the flatbed presses, have reached up to 200 meters per minute and more. The narrow web label industry flourished and kept growing. With time label technologies have undergone a sea change. What was wet glue labels, transformed into self-adhesive labels but later the label grew towards various tangents. The label users started adopting a wide variety that includes wraparound labels, shrink sleeves, Inmold labels, heat transfer labels and many more. In the initial stages of transformation large multinational FMCG companies became users of wrap-around labels and shrink sleeves, because of the large volume they required, these became the product of the wide web rotogravure printing industry. With market changes happening, the need of smaller manufacturers and demand for short runs by marketing professionals, these diverse segments also became evident in the offerings of narrow web industry. 

The narrow started growing wider still, printing and converting evolved exponentially and became suppliers of not only to wide spectrum of labels but also flexible packaging, Lami-tubes and folding cartons. The flexo presses also transformed to be hybrid ones  employing combination of flexo, offset, gravure, screen and digital, etc.

At Labelexpo Europe 2023, one could witness displayed, a merger and combination of different printing technologies to produce excellence in print of labels and packaging. This was substantially exhibited by industry stalwarts like Gallus, Omet, Nilpeter, Mark Andy, Bobst, Weigang, Lombardy, etc. who displayed their finest web printing and converting equipment. It is interesting that waste reduction and sustainable manufacturing practices to reduce carbon footprint are becoming imperative for all responsible machine builders.

Overview: Material suppliers like Avery Dennison, UPM Raflatac and Fedrigoni displayed their vast ranges of labelstocks with an evident effort towards sustainability. Many did talk of linerless and the initial developments they have made but the actual linerless self-adhesive label for mass usage is still a far cry. 

As mentioned before, from the just one Indian Labelstock producer in 2005, there were five Indian labelstock producers at the show, Jindal SMI, SticOn papers, MLJ, Shree Lamipack and Varshil. Looking at the number of visitors on stands it was clear that the focus of label fraternity is shifting from commodities to creativity, innovation and sustainability. While all labelstock companies had a steady flow of visitors, the Fedrigoni stand that offered specialty textured and decorative materials was extremely busy. 

A similar situation was observed at the Cartes stand whose displayed equipment offered amazing embellishments with various combinations of digital jet screen varnishing and printing, screen printing, laser die-cutting etc. The electronic integration in labels is another field that attracted the attention of forward-thinking printing companies. RFID insertion options for labels and packaging were displayed by many, some of whom include  Avery Dennison, Beontag, Muhlbauer, Delta Modtech, etc. Another aspect witnessed is the growing number of finishing equipment manufacturers, which clearly indicates the need for printing companies to produce more with less. The concept of printing at full machine speeds on their expensive presses and finishing offline makes available more time on their main printing presses. The futuristic digital printing equipment continues to evolve indicating it to become a dominant label printing technology in future, given the wider widths and faster speeds.

The hall number 8 with exhibitors led by HP, offered a vast variety of digital printing equipment. The increased display of finishing or digital finishing machines is also indicative of the increasing importance of digital printing, which in recent times has become a necessity for prosperous label printers. Running short runs needs offline finishing. else the digital presses with inline finishing will not only be expensive but will not be able to deliver production to their full capacity due to short runs and quick changeovers.

One thing that has become evident at Labelexpo Europe 2023 is that the narrow web label industry continues to go wider and evolve, increasing its footprints in other segments of packaging and it would not be out of place to mention that soon it  will be referred to as “Web label and package converting industry.”

The end of show was a nostalgic moment, people bidding farewell to Labelexpo in Brussel where so many wonderful memories, stories of success and friendships had been scripted. The label fraternity now looks forward to making another beginning with Labelexpo Europe 2025 in Barcelona, Spain.

Pictures of my walk through Labelexpo 2023 and some of the events on the sidelines;

World Label Awards Judging:

One day before Labelexpo opened, the judging for label awards was held.

Same afternoon, L9 meeting was held, followed by L9-Dinner

The global Label awards evening!

On Wednesday 13th September 2023, fairwell dinner for Label Guru Mike Fairley was held

My Walk through!

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India September 2023

Prologue by the author : My family was in a business of  producing stationery and selling under brand Weldon, founded by my father in 1939. During the start of 1980s, I wished to add ball pens to our range of products. Those days the Italian city Turin or Torino was one of the best and biggest ball pen manufacturing areas and the author used to visit Turin quite often. Because of that Italian connection, my company was a member of Indo Italian Chamber of commerce and Industry (IICCI). I had just ventured into the labels industry a few years back, by starting siliconizing operations. During the visit of an Italian business delegation which included industrialists from various industries, the IICCI was organizing one to one meetings of the Italians with Indians in similar field. I was called upon to be a part of Indian labels industry group as there was one Italian industrialist in that segment. Surprisingly, I was the only Indian from the Indian label industry to meet the Italian, Angelo Bartesaghi, owner of Omet Srl. Lecco Italy. I reproduce image of his card given to me 40 years ago as below;

We struck a cordial relationship from the word go and I took him around NCR Delhi, to visit label printing and machine manufacturing enterprises. All along the three days we spent together, he kept suggesting me to be his agent in India. I excused myself because as a silicone paper producer, label printers were customers of my immediate customers, and I did not want to be a supplier to my customers’ buyers. As life came full circle, in around 2007, Angelo’s son-in-law Marco Calcagni, Sales Director of Omet, carrying forward the legacy of Angelo Bartesaghi, decided to make my company Weldon Celloplast Ltd. as their exclusive agent in India. Today Omet has a wholly owned Indian subsidiary headed by my son Pawandeep Sahni as Managing Director.

I recently met Marco Calcagni and his wife Paola Bartesaghi, daughter of Angelo,  in Omet’s new facility in Lecco near Milan in Italy for an interview about Paola’s father and founder of OMET. :Harveer Sahni Author

Beginning: Angelo Bartesaghi’s father Antonio used to work in a company called Fiocchi in the machine building department, Angelo also joined the same company in 1949. Angello had a sharp mind for creativity and machine design, but he became highly unsatisfied with his boss as his ideas full of creativity and innovation, were not being recognized, the excellent work that Angelo delivered would be owned by his boss as if it were his and not that of Angelo. Not to accept the situation, Angelo at the age of 29 years, quit his job to start his own maiden venture OMET in 1963 where he was later joined in the venture by his father and uncle Franco Gattinoni as the only workers. The family is proud to mention some of the machines designed by Angelo for Fiocchi are still in production!

The full form of OMET: OFFICINA MECCANICA E TRANCERIA (Factory for mechanical and sheering)

A big customer Noli Giuseppe owner of Milan based LOCSA , manufacturers of disposable paper products for restaurants and household use, approached Angelo Bartesaghi for a tissue converting machine. He was shown a picture of the machine needed. Angelo managed to see the machine in operation and thereon in 1965 he designed and built it. It was the very first machine that he built but unfortunately the equipment did not work properly and did not meet the customer’s satisfaction. This rejection landed Angelo in deep financial trouble, but he was a man of strong commitment and did not give up. He looked around for finance possibilities.

His own banker not only refused to extend more finance but also withdrew the existing facilities. Other bankers also followed the same process of refusing to fund him. Persistently trying, he fortunately found a considerate and helpful banker who saw the potential in this man and funded him. He even encouraged Angelo to go and repay off his debt to other bankers, which brought a surprising change in them, they offered double the finance. He then worked hard on the machine and with his penchant for creativity and innovation, he perfected the machine, once that worked, he did not have to look back. That was his first machine for converting tissue. When the machine worked, an excited Angelo bought a bottle of wine and celebrated the success with his creation by pouring the wine on the machine! Angelo learnt a very important lesson about how to manage his relations with the world of business and finance and that is what helped him through his successful journey in business.

A local company Eurolabel established in 1965 came to Angelo requesting him to make a label press similar to their existing one but wanted the same with many improvements. That was the first Label press, a die cutting machine which Omet successfully delivered with their own label on the machine. The Italian company Euro label is still there as a successful label company. Later they perfected their first printing machine a letterpress printing for EDP  or computer labels  and the first or one of the first such equipment was sold to the leading German label stock manufacturer Jacstadt, a company that was later acquired by Avery Dennison. That machine was a 16-inch fanfold computer label manufacturing machine, they also had a 10-inch version.

In 1997 they made the first water-based ink, flexo label press following which they continued to be a front runner in the evolution of label printing equipment. They lead the industry in waste reduction  with short web path faster speeds by introducing new waste matrix handling system without breakages, automatic state of art registration system in both machine and cross directions and introducing a host of pioneering innovative label printing, drying and converting technologies. In between growing the label printing machine business Omet also set up a ball bearing  manufacturing unit.

 A high point of time in Angelo Bartesaghi’s lifetime was in 2010, the creation of a complex platform printing machine combining the mechanical and electronic technology, the “Varyflex Lottery” for a Hong Kong based multinational company to print tickets for the Chinese market. It was the most sophisticated press until that point of time, delivered with 22 printing stations 20 inch wide and capable of running at 150 meters per minute. The total length of the machine is 56 meters incorporating Flexo, offset and digital printing. 

The more complicated machines with complex capabilities are now in production with amazing configurations all employing the diverse and latest printing, drying, embellishing and converting technologies. A single press can have flexo, gravure, offset, screen and digital along with embellishments and multiple die-cutting with a very high level of automation reducing operator intervention. According to Marco Calcagni, “We try to do something different and that the others are presently not able to offer.” Omet now has supplied around 2000 machines worldwide, they now are building an average of 200 highly sophisticated  machines every year. Being local their biggest market is Italy. They are also very strong in Europe. Interesting complex and good markets for Omet are America, South America, North Africa and the Far-East. China used to be good a couple of years ago but is now very slow. Marco further states. “India is also looking up well. It is a very interesting market, but the time taken to decide an order is many months to a year or more, while in USA, decisions are made in a matter of a couple of weeks compared to a month or so in Europe.” 

Aerial view of the Omet assembly shopfloor:

Post covid there has been a big change in the market, and it gave the company an opportunity to rethink and develop innovative technologies expanding into related printing and packaging segments. To start with they built and moved into a new building to trigger rapid growth and developments to cater to an evolving market. The focus, while remaining active in the label printing and converting segment, they did not just move into, but additionally expanded into the state of art printing and packaging converting equipment manufacturing. Important large customers in packaging recognize OMET equipment for its quality, reliability and capability to deliver the best with ease of use. Omet management asserts that they are at a stage to grow exponentially, yet they  are not in competition to produce general products but offer innovative plants that will be able to produce innovations. 

An innovation center has been created for labels and flexible packaging where 2 or 3 machines are installed for demo runs, test runs for customers, and also to train their operators and staff in running and maintaining the Omet equipment. In these days when good operators are short in availability, Omet endeavors to help train their people not only in running the machine but also with information on prepress, inks, aniloxes, dies, etc. OMET supports testing of new materials and creation of new products for customers using facilities available at their Innovation center.

Sustainability: Omet has designed one machine for linerless built as a prototype in cooperation with Ritrama which is now with Fedrigoni. They do understand that it is a topic of importance, and many people are interested. Creativity and innovation have been an inherent part of Omet’s strategy and being strong in that area, now sustainability is also added to their focus. Effort is to try and reduce the cost of energy in label or package converting by investing in better LED UV applications. As for reducing wastage, Omet has been on the forefront of developing technology. Years ago, they pioneered the short web path and still their teams are working on faster changeover and setup time, targeting to achieve a near zero waste in job changeover. Avoiding silicone release papers in PSA labels is still tough, yet they are working towards this.

Family: Angelo Bartesaghi passed away on the 29th of November 2011 at the age of 78 years. His legacy is carried forward by his family. His second generation is now in charge while the third generation has also started to work for the company. Angelo Bartesaghi has three children, two daughters and a son. Paola Bartesaghi is the eldest and looks after the finance. She is the wife of Marco Calcagni who is the Sales Director of Omet. Marco joined Omet as an employee in 1987 and a year later fell in love with Angelo’s daughter Paola. After three years of courtship, they married in 1992. They have three children, two sons and a daughter. 

Their elder son Andrea is the third generation to join Omet and Luca the younger son is in school. Their daughter Sara is pursuing higher education and training in Switzerland. When Paola was asked about childhood memories of her father she says, “ he was a workaholic and we seldom got to see him at home, even when at home he was working!” 

Angelo’s son Antonio now heads the company as Managing director, he has three sons and a daughter all still in school. 

This picture is at the Omet’s 50 years celebrations when they released a book.

The youngest of the Bartesaghi siblings is Raffaella who looks after the group company OPAC where they manufacture Wet wipes and cosmetics. Raffaella has a school going son. When asked about the plans for the children in the family, Paola Bartesaghi said, “Though we do not force anyone, but I am sure all will eventually join Omet as it is a good and well managed family company.”

Present scale of operations: The new Omet factory which is dedicated to building the label and packaging machines is 20,000 square meters and the innovation park and technology  center setup is 4000 square meters, then they have around 4000 square meters factory near Malpensa where they assemble the printing units for label machines, plus there are two buildings for Tissue manufacturing unit admeasuring around 5000 square meters. Additionally, a 2000 square meters plant is there in Luca for making tissue converting machines. They have another unit in Imola to make some special packaging machines like case makers, cartons and palletisers.

Omet also have their ball bearing division titled “System in Motion” with one factory in Lecco 2000 square meters and another 2500 square meters in China. Omet also has a unit titled “OPAC” for manufacturing wet wipes and cosmetics. Omet’s present turnover is 110 million Euros. Total group turnover, including that of OPAC, is 150 million Euros and on the rise. Total number of employees in the group is 500. Omet sales force includes a total of 40 agents around the world with some of them covering more than one country. They have own offices other than those in Italy, in Spain, USA and India.

 After the day spent at Omet, the author and his wife spent an amazing evening with Marco Calcagni and his wife Paola Batesaghi

Written and compiled by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India in August 2023

Rajeev Nair’s meteoric rise from just a fresh engineering graduate, starting his career as a technical sales, and marketing person to now heading the Stallion Group, is not only incredible but also inspirational for young startups. The author always remembered him as a salesperson and employee of industry stalwart P C Jain of Great Eastern, from the time he met him as a youngster in the 1990s. It was amazing to meet him recently in June 2023, when he came to pick up the author from his hotel in Dubai in his Bentley for a meeting to narrate his fabulous journey from being a sales employee to setting up his startup enterprise and growing it internationally, aspiring to rise even higher. Rajeev Nair is a businessman to watch.

Rajeev is the youngest amongst five siblings, four brothers and one sister. His father was in the business of grocery retail in the old Super Mart format of retail that existed those days. In their childhood the children used to go to their father’s shop to help him, more so during the rush of shoppers during evenings and festivals. By the time the children grew up, their father had wound up that business. Rajeev was born in Trivandrum, now named Thiruvananthapuram, and later in life settled down in Kochi. After completing his schooling, he went to Chandigarh, for further studies specializing in Industrial electronics from CSIR-Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO). He says it was a turning point in his life coming from Kerala and into the Punjabi heartland. Encountering the Punjabi culture was an experience and widened his outlook in life. After passing out he immediately joined Great Eastern Impex Pvt. Ltd. (GEIPL) in 1988 who were looking for an electronics engineer.

They were about to initiate their barcode business and fax machines business. GEIPL being the first one to introduce barcoding & fax machines in India, were very well supported by their principals Monarch Marking Systems with whom they had a very strong business partnership. Monarch Marking Systems, was acquired by Pitney Bowes Inc. in 1968. Rajeev was extensively trained by Monarch & Pitney Bowes to become the first trained person in barcode technology and fax machines. Leading bar code industry peers like A S Shekhawat, Anil K jain and many others were his colleagues at that time.

Ambition:

In 1992 Rajeev got married to Asha, also a Malayali but born and brought up in Delhi. The language spoken in Kerala is Malayalam and the local people are referred to as Malayali. After their first baby was born, Rajeev decided to move back to Kerala and to nature in God’s own country. He had difficulty in convincing Asha, who being a Delhi girl resisted, yet Rajeev’s mind was made. Firm ambition to start his own business took precedent over everything else.

In 1996 he left GEIPL and started his own company Stallion Onebyte Pvt. Ltd. in KOCHI, his brother who was a director in HCL helped him in the start-up. To start with, Rajeev followed the trusted principal, “for a rapid rise in business, copy the success already achieved!”  He began by trading and selling barcode technology products as he was doing in GEIPL, because in his stint there as an employee he had introduced barcodes in the country, he understood the business and was known to prospective customers all over. At GEIPL he was a part of the team that had set up the marketing, sales, and branch network so experience was all there.

Karma:

After simply trading for two years, selling barcode printers alone, one eventually finds the pressing need to also sell consumables like labels. He initially outsourced labels but eventually set up his first small factory to make labels in Kochi with two second hand Japanese label presses. From day one of starting manufacturing, he was clear that he had to buy the best raw material. 

He bought his label stock only from Avery Dennison, despite knowing that many in the industry were using cheaper stock lots to make better profits, his vision was farsighted. Stallion invested their time and effort in developing relations with Avery and have grown with them as major supplier-partners, till date. They initially started labels by offering plain labels only, but when customers demanded printed labels, they acquired a Weigang Chinese tower type 330 mm 5 color label press. There has been no looking back by the company thereafter.

Stallion kept on registering steady growth, increasing their presence all over India by establishing branches in major cities. In hardware they represent Honeywell for barcode printers and scanners and Datalogic Italy, Sunmi and Seuic as platinum partners. They also have partnered with Avery Dennison for their RFID products; in fact, they now offer total Solutions in the hardware along with consumables like labels, thermal ribbons etc. In the recent past moving forward, they have been working on project management basis for example for track and trace they supply end to end solutions like printers, mobile scanners, labels, ribbons, and implementation of the complete systems. “We have grown to be amongst the top few players in the barcoding industry” says Rajeev.

Around 2003, Rajeev decided and set up operations in UAE as well. Yet again copying his mode of success achieved from operations in Kochi where he started his business, he started in the same way in SAIF Zone, Sharjah which was an office area and they had initiated trading there. Once set up in UAE, Rajeev saw an opportunity that there was no one in GCC countries slitting and supplying thermal transfer ribbons for barcode printers. He decided to start the slitting operations immediately and Stallion became the first one to start slitting and supplying thermal transfer ribbon for barcode printing in GCC. Until then, all players were importing from China, India, and other places. 

Stallion kept on expanding and the shopfloor area increased to 6000 square feet. Last year in 2022, they set up their own corporate headquarter for middle east. They bought a plot and built 35000 square feet bringing manufacturing and office in one place. For India, the head quarter remained at Kochi. Rajeev keeps shuffling between India and UAE. He spends more time in UAE to maintain his NRI status. The growth in Dubai was faster. 

They invested in a Multitec eight color label press to enter the product label segment in around 2013, even before they did so to indulge in product labels in India. They found success and in 2021 they bought yet another Multitec label press.

Later, shifting focus towards business in India, they installed a flexo label press in their Mumbai factory. They did not invest to grow much in product labels in India earlier, as the number of players is already substantial and most of the label printing companies are well settled. He attributes slower growth in India due to not getting the right kind of people to manage the show. He feels there is a dearth of talented people in the label industry in India and the staff turnover is frequent. Rajeev is a hands-off entrepreneur and operates like a proper corporate entity, letting the team fuel growth. For future he is planning to indulge in product label manufacturing in India in a bigger way. Though he feels, given the big players already in the field, the labels business in India is challenging, yet he has decided to go ahead due to the sheer market size and expected growth potential. He was looking for the right person who can handle that part of the business and take it forward successfully, making it a valuable profit center. He reiterates, “I cannot handle all myself.” The team must be in a place to run the show. He already has one consumables business head who joined him a year ago and looks after the manufacturing and trading activities of that division.

Rajeev’s extended family had diversified into different tangents. His one brother retired as director from the central government owned company Hindustan Latex Ltd, another was commissioner of Kerala House in New Delhi, and the third brother is a Management Guru who was at no. 4 position in hierarchy in HCL, Hindustan computers Ltd. His sister is married, and the late brother-in-law was settled in Saudi with business. Rajeev and Asha are blessed with two children. A son and a daughter. His son Manav is an MBA from Australia and has joined his business now. His daughter Nimisha is studying film making from NYFA, Los Angeles, USA and will be graduating this year itself.

Success:

Both manufacturing and trading are poised to achieve continued growth. With the increase in organized retail a definite growth in sales is seen as happening. The steady growth over the past years has set an inertia which is providing them with natural growth each year for the entire group. They have three companies in India, the parent one is Stallion One Byte Pvt. Ltd. which is focusing on big end users’ complete projects like track and Trace, RFID, Bar Coding, Labels, etc. For his son Manav who has joined business, to get him started and get a feel of business, Rajeev started a company named Boxpush India Pvt. Ltd. It is a purely distribution B2B company to sell the products that they are manufacturing or trading in. Manav is the CEO of that company. They have third company in India called Makimpact India Pvt. Ltd. which is into manufacturing of hardware like printers, scanners. and supplying to OEMs. All the three companies in India, that in UAE named Stallion Labels Industries LLC. and those elsewhere are a part of Stallion group. They also have an Oman based company named Stallion Systems LLC. Another group company based in Qatar is Stallion Systems WLL. When asked by the author, “six companies?!” He laughed, “that is not all, I have other passions as well!” He is also into movies production and event organization with a company called “Impresario” which was started by three other people, he bought out the share of one and is one of the directors in that company. That is the reason his daughter Nimisha is studying film making in the USA. He also has a hand in the hospitality industry. He invested in a cardamom estate in the Munnar hill station, within which he has built a resort, it is a 3 hours’ drive from Kochi. From the estate they sell cardamom and have additional revenue coming from the resort, his hospitality venture.

They now have 300 plus employees in India alone and another 75 in UAE a total of 375 plus people. Once things were steady and in place, they had started expanding from just a small factory in Kochi and later they shifted to 15000 square feet facility. From another small factory set up earlier in Bangalore, they shifted to a larger factory in Bomasandra. Expanding in Mumbai as well, they bought a plot in Bhumi Industrial estate Bhiwandi and constructed a factory for expansion. The total shop floor area under production and warehousing is more than 55000 square feet. The group is managed through five divisions Consumables, Barcoding, POS, RFID and Software. Each division has a business unit-head, responsible for making it a robust profit center and reporting to Rajeev.

According to Rajeev, Stallion Group’s total turnover at present is more than Rupees 200 Crores!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi-110008 August 2023

The much awaited sixth biennial LMAI label conference, held from 20th to 23rd July 2023 at the sprawling Leela Palace Hotel Jaipur, concluded as a highly successful event. 

The event was organized following a hiatus of 4 years after an amazing showing at Kochi in 2019. 

A Total of 580 delegates that included Printers from all over India, domestic as well as international suppliers and leading printing magazines. 212 delegates came from 100 label printing companies and 357 delegates came from 101 supplier companies. Indian delegates came from Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Nasik, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Gandhinagar, Gurgaon, Faridabad, NOIDA, Vapi Kolkata, Hyderabad, Vizag and other cities in the states of Tamil Nadu, UP and Haryana. International delegates came from 10 countries like Germany, Japan, USA, Korea, UK, Italy, Israel, Indonesia, Denmark and Belgium. 

The event began after registrations on the 20th July2023 evening with the LMAI Board of Directors adding the colour and vibrance to the inauguration ceremony in traditional Rajasthani attire, the Jodhpuri Blue Bandgala suit together with a typical red Safa (Rajasthani Turban). 

There were 38 sponsors who also had the display area for a table top for showcasing their catalogues and interacting with customers. All delegates were accommodated in two hotels, The Leela Palace and The Fairmont. The event was fully sold out.

After the lighting of lamp, Rajesh Nema, President LMAI, delivered the welcome address 

This was followed by the opening presentation by Saurabh Agarwal Vice President & General Manager at Avery Dennison, South Asia who were the platinum sponsors for this largest labels’ industry event. 

Saurabh Agarwal, Avery Dennison

Jade Grace, Managing Director of Labelexpo group, who are partners for LMAI along with Pradeep Saroha, Director Labelexpo India, spoke about the upcoming Labelexpo Europe at Brussels in September2023. 

Manish Desai, Chairman LMAI conference committee then apprised the audience about the agenda and presenter guidelines. 

Manish Desai, Conference Chairman

Ramesh Deshpande of Renu Prints Aurangabad was conferred the LMAI lifetime award

Thereafter LMAI felicitated the extensive list of 38 sponsors in a royal style titled, “Darbar-E-LMAI”.

On day2 After the welcome address by Jaideep Singh secretary LMAI, the extensive list of sponsors started to deliver their amazing knowledge-imparting presentations adhering to the conference theme, “Creativity Innovation Sustainability”. 

What is most interesting is that the conference theme was dwelled at length, detailing past and envisaging future as regards to the industry imperatives for creating labels that act as marketing tool with innovations built into them but keeping in mind the need to be sustainable and for the planet to be safe for generations that follow. 

Emphatic presentations were made by Vinod Vazhapulli of Jindal-SMI, Priyanka Rathi of Monotech and many others.

One of the most talked about, powerful and intense presentation came from Pawandeep Sahni Managing Director Omet India Pvt. Ltd. subsidiary of Omet Srl Italy.

To witness this presentation Click the link; https://1drv.ms/v/s!Ap6vcIHnSHydgYUKaMSlFMjP2L1wdg?e=vJhxaF

On the last day 22nd July, it started with a panel discussion moderated by author Harveer Sahni. Panelists included Ankit Gupta (Holostik), Umesh Kagade (HP), Hemantha Paruchuri (Pragati Pack), Upal Roy (Flint Group), Rajeev Chhatwal (Kwality Offset), Sajeev Sharma (Avery Dennison), Manish Kapur (Nilpeter) and Akshay Datta (Datta Press)

The presentations ended with concluding remarks by past president LMAI Vivek Kapoor. After Lunch, a special event titled “Round Table” was held whereby all sponsors were seated at a round table with seven chairs at each table, displaying their catalogues. Printers were required to visit each table to meet each sponsor and get stamped, a passport given to them. Those who visited all the sponsors qualified to participate in a random selection process to get three winners of the visitors to the round table.

Later part of the evening after a presentation by Dari De Meoof Bobst and Manish Kapur of Nilpeter, Celebrity actor and motivational speaker Boman Irani came on stage to keep the audience spellbound for over an hour. 

He summed up his lecture with an amazing delivery of a Frank Sinatra song, the audience was ecstatic, gave a standing ovation, cheered, applauded and exhibited appreciation. To hear his full song please click the link https://1drv.ms/v/s!Ap6vcIHnSHydgYUypk16kGTBPDPf6w?e=BTstKX 

Gala Evening: 

The last part of the conference was an entertaining Gala Evening and had been set up as Roman theme “Veni Vedi Vici” 

Formally dressed Board of Directors with KD Sahni in picture

They later adorned the Roman look and made a grand entry.

\

The Roman attired Board!

After a vote of thanks by past President Sandeep Zaveri, the bar was thrown open, networking commenced, and the celebrity “Kakkar sisters, Sukriti-Prakriti” came on stage and the dance floor was rocking! The party went on till late in the night, participants to the event vowing to meet again at another LMAI event.

Wonderful Images from the event!          

The next morning after breakfast, it was time to say goodbyes, and promise to meet again at another industry event soon, taking back wonderful memories of the three days with the virtual who is who of the Indian Labels industry and the number of global suppliers who supported the event at this property, The Leela Palace, portraying the great heritage of Rajasthan. The hotel management displayed good hospitality.

My coverage of the event would be incomplete if I do not mention the excellent job done by the event organizer Mercury Integrated team lead by the beautiful Hemal Solanki Bhagwat, who even in the most stressful situation was always managing to keep smiling! The author had the pleasure of clicking a wonderful picture with her.

Written and compiled by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008  July 2023

The author is indebted to respondents who provided some important inputs for this article. They include Ajay Rao Rane of Domino, Shayyakk Mukherjee of Konica Minolta, Vikram Saxena of Xeikon, Jimit Mittal of Monotech, Venkatesh Selveraj representing Durst and Appadurai of HP.

Unlike the sudden spurt in growth of self-adhesive label industry that we witnessed in China some years back, Label printers in India have moved on steadily and cautiously. We are now considered to be either already a bigger population than China or about to surpass them in numbers, yet in times of growing demand of label and packaging, our label industry continues to exhibit resilience and achieve a steady double-digit growth.

Our printers have adopted the evolution of printing technologies with varying degrees of indulgence based on their customers’ need and wish to deliver creativity and innovation. Indian label printers moved on to adopt evolution as it occurred, from flatbed label printing to semi-rotary intermittent letterpress, flexo, digital flexo and combination printing with flexo, screen, gravure, etc. all in-line. However, when it came to digital label printing, the industry treaded this path-breaking technology with extreme caution and calculated steps. In January 2018, an article in Labels and Labeling mentioned that in around 2008 the first HP Indigo press was installed in China and by 2018 the number had swelled to 180 and thereafter registering almost 40 new installations, small and big,  every year. While in India the first HP Indigo press was also installed at Janus International in 2008, the same time as in China, yet by 2023 the total high-end digital label presses are around 40-45 but with all small and big included this figure may have reached 60-65.

The author interacted with leading digital label press manufacturers to ascertain a percentage of growth of their installations, it was not possible arrive at a concrete number. This is so, because the base numbers are so small that the percentage growth rate may become misleading. Take for example; if a manufacturer has only two prior installations and just one in the current year, then it means a fifty percent growth in numbers. For sure it will not convey the actual scenario. The statement made by HP Indigo country manager Appadurai sounds more relevant. He says, “We have seen a Triple Digit CAGR in the Linear meters of Jobs printed with customers in India . This is the most important metric of our business.

We expect not only to  sustain this growth but to scale it even further.” Appadurai’s statement does reflect a realistic look at the growth of digitally printed labels. However, to arrive at a realistic figure that will indicate the growth in the installed base of digital label presses, we need to dwell on the number of  installations, which grew from 22 in 2017 to 60-65 in 2023. With these figures in hand, one can calculate that the CAGR rate to be 19%. Vikram Saxena of Xeikon, who mentioned the growth of installations to be 18-20% was the nearest to the figure that the author has arrived at. While at the higher end HP continues to lead in the number of installations and in the volume of investments, Monotech excels in the over all number of installations mainly due to the price advantage. Those entering the digital arena are looking for affordable equipment to start with and later upgrade. At the current rate of growth, we can expect 12 to 15 installations per year, it includes the big ones and the affordable ones.

 “I believe the future of label printing is firmly in the realm of digital printing” says Shayakk Mukherjee of Konica Minolta commenting on future of digital label printing in India. The market of digital label printing, after the initial holding off until market matures, has been looking up and rapidly growing as more and more established label companies have invested in the technology that accords the ability to produce high-quality, cost-effective, and customizable labels in shorter runs. The growth of ecommerce has acted more like a catalyst for increased demand for personalized and customized labels at short notice.

Increasing focus in India towards the young population, with encouragement from Government, a whole community of startups is emerging giving a definite fillip to creation of jobs and innovating with new products that will appeal to their own generation-next. The startups need to have labels and packaging in smaller quantities in the initial stages of their journey into manufacturing. All respondents have mentioned the key advantages of digital label printing and its ability to enable shorter runs and faster turnaround times. The vision at HP is quite expansive, they state that digital label printing  besides just labels is also increasingly being used for packaging. Appadurai adds, “The trend in the label printing industry is the increasing focus on sustainability, with many companies seeking to reduce waste and environmental impact. Digital printing technology can help in this regard by reducing the need for excess inventory and minimizing material waste.” Corroborating the view Ajay Rao Rane of Domino Printech says, “Labels and Packaging converters are engaging and trying to understand the benefits they would achieve through digital printing and taking a well-informed decision about investing in the latest technology.” 

Most contemporary or emerging technologies initially face a lot of hesitation by investors but once they are able to establish their fruitful deliverance, they do find people who will adopt them, though the cost of end product so manufactured does play a definitive role in decision making. Labels too have faced a similar situation. The convenience of digital printing was an awe-inspiring development, triggering wish of ownership, but the cost of labels as compared to those produced by analogue process was, and still is, a deterrent.

With time the convenience of producing from computer to print without the need of extensive pre-press, plate making and long setup time, attracted many a printer’s attention. Coupled with the ability to produce customized and personalized labels with variable data many jobs became a necessity to be produced on digital label presses. Now when rapid growth in the number of installations there is some ease of pressure on input costs but still it is much more than those printed by flexo presses. According to Jimit Mittal at Monotech, with the increase in number of digital equipment, the cost of logistics and consumables can be optimised to a certain level. Digital is no longer just for short runs but can also satisfy medium runs cost-effectively delivering value addition to any customer workflow more than the run lengths only. The HP team agrees that the gap in cost of printing on flexo and digital will narrow with an increase in numbers while the thought process at Domino is that the cost comparison between digital and flexo printing will vary depending on the specific job requirements and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Venkatesh Selveraj states, “In Durst digital solution the production cost gap is already narrowed down.” The gap in cost for both flexo and digital is substantial. Vikram Saxena at Xeikon sums it as, “This question is an irrelevant question. Both are not competitors but complimentary technologies.” Increasing print length does not mean that the job will become cost effective on digital on the contrary shorter runs are better. This is so because in flexo the prepress, plate cost make-ready and setup adds up on a small size of the job.

Most of the respondents in response to the author’s questions have expressed that digital label printing is now not limited to short runs. There are companies like Trigon Digital, Leap Digiprints, Digistick, etc. who are only committed to digital printing and have plans to stay invested in the same technology and expand in it. When asked if in future digital will replace analogue or flexo or Hybrid the general opinion was that there does not appear to be such a possibility in the near future, but in fact the two will be complimentary technologies to each other.

In the western countries, more digital presses have started being sold than conventional ones. But this may be because of a smaller base of installed digital label presses in comparison to conventional ones and the pressing need of printers to expand their capabilities and cater to needs of customized, personalized or variable printed labels. Most successful label companies will have these two technologies in their companies together.

The growth of digital printing gets enhanced when the equipment manufacturers promote their products. The standard procedure followed is to display their products at industry exhibitions. Labelexpo and other printing shows have been seeing an increased presence of digital printing equipment manufacturers in recent times. Being a technology that is still evolving, there is a lot to be learnt by the printing fraternity. The first knowledge about digital printing comes when new prospects visit the exhibitors stands at the printing shows, but the more detailed information comes when sales and technical professionals make presentations to printers at their own offices followed by showcasing existing installed running presses at other printing companies.

Unlike other printing technologies like flexo, offset, screen and gravure, there are many variants in technology as to how digital printing is done. The diverse types of technologies available leave the printers in confusion as to what is the most appropriate technology in which they should invest. Available technologies offered by various manufacturers of digital equipment are as follows;

Dry toner based.

Liquid toner based.

UV Inkjet

 Water-based inkjet

Exhibitions, direct mail and personal reach-out to educate prospective customers about their equipment, remains the most preferred marketing process for digital label press manufacturer. However, the modus operandi by Domino and HP is stated to be a little different. Ajay Rao Rane of Domino states, “We also engage with the brand owners to evangelize the benefits of Digital printing to them.” HP goes a step ahead and Appadurai at HP sums it up, “We invest a lot into educating brand owners about the benefits of digital printing, we always look for creating more opportunities for our PSPs, apart from working with large brands in creating campaigns like share a Coke, Kit-Kat valentine pack, Dettol covid warrior pack, we also work extensively with many association of food & beverages, pharma, personal care to educate the brands associated with them on the benefits of digital printing, which saves them lot of cost, (better cashflow), faster time to market, while also helping them to use more sustainable printed packages.

The future of digital printing is growth oriented, and it will keep evolving as all electronic, IT based, or AI based products keep changing constantly. But then as it is said, “Change is the only constant!” As a matter of fact, the changes come so fast that the winners will be those who adapt to this change quickly to offer innovative products ahead of others.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi May 2023

CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE TO WITNESS THE AUDIO/VIDEO

LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India) has recently announced the 6th biennial LMAI conference 2023 themed, “Creativity-Innovation-Sustainability”, to be held at Jaipur on 20th to 23rd July 2023. The registrations for the same have begun. The main conference is slated to be organised at hotel The Leela Palace Jaipur and due to the big number of delegates expected, accommodation is also arranged at Hotel Fairmont Jaipur, just a few minutes away. The Leela Palace is nestled against the majestic backdrop of the Aravalli range. It boasts over eight acres of landscaped gardens and an enviable location – near key heritage and tourism sites within the ancient city complex. The majestic splendor of Rajputana heritage at this landmark structure uses traditional thikri craft, inlaid mirrors, Shekhawati paintings and silver foiled domes in its decor. The second hotel, the Fairmont Hotel is an ode to Jaipur, popularly known as the pink city, through awe inspiring architecture and decor, inspired by the Mughal Dynasty and Royal Rajputs of yore. This luxury Jaipur hotel is also nestled amongst the majestic Aravalli hills, all 199 rooms and suites are elegantly appointed, to reflect a perfect blend of traditional Rajasthani décor and modern amenities. Over 600 delegates consisting of label printers, leading industry suppliers from India and around the world and media are expected to attend this biggest event of India’s label industry.

Harshdeep Kaur performing at LMAI conference

In 2011, writing the preview of the first ever  LMAI conference, which was held at Hotel Park Hyatt Goa, the author wrote in this blog, “History is being created”. So true it turned out to be! The 2011 LMAI conference titled “Innovations Unlimited” was an immense success. Now 12 years on, we nostalgically look back to rejoice the value of this biennial event that brings the entire Indian label industry, including printers and suppliers, together for 3 full days to network, share knowledge and party together. In 2011 the progressive Indian label fraternity was elated by the presence of suppliers and media from destinations around the world and the journey has moved on with growing numbers of delegates at the conference. The large congregation justifies the saying, “More the merrier.”

Gaur Gopal Das at LMAI Conference

The previous editions of LMAI conferences have been held at venues that include Goa-2011, Goa-2013 Jaipur-2015, Agra-2017, Kochi-2019, due to the pandemic 2021 had to be cancelled and now planned to be held at Jaipur 2023. The number of delegates has been steadily growing, from just 271 in the first showing, it is likely to cross over 600 in the forthcoming conference. The label industry has been undergoing a tremendous transformation in the ensuing period. India is already or almost, the most populated country in the world. It is one of the five largest economies with a young population having median age of 29 years and a huge young population being educated and coming out of universities and skill development centers. The demand for consumer goods is steadily rising and

Images of Kochi Conference

 so is the demand for labels and packaging. Labels have always been registering a robust double digit CAGR (compounded annual growth rate). Currently there is an increasing number of new entrants in label manufacturing leading to intense competition as well. In a continuously evolving scenario, LMAI has been putting across message to its members to adopt innovations that will result in value addition. However, this year sensing the imperative need for industry to implement sustainable manufacturing processes, LMAI in this year’s theme for the conference is putting across a message to be creative and innovative along with a focus to manufacture products that are sustainable and have reduced impact on the environment. Thus, the theme “Creativity- Innovation- Sustainability.”

Delegates partying!

The LMAI organizing team works hard to put together a variety of programs along with technical presentations, to liven up the moods of their members who attend the conference. There is knowledge sharing, entertainment, partying, motivational presentations, and a lot of fun. Already 31 leading industry suppliers led by platinum sponsors Avery Dennison have confirmed their support as sponsors for this prestigious conference. There are still many others who are in-waiting to confirm their sponsorship. Once the list is complete and the offer for sponsorship closed, the complete list will be shared with industry. The memories of these wonderful events linger on, triggering yearnings to have more such events that bring this colourful industry together.

Panel Discussion

The LMAI conference is open only to its members. Nonmembers who wish to attend the conference and events thereafter, must enroll as members of the association before applying to join the conference as delegates. Printer members and Sponsors will be accommodated  in the main venue The Leela Palace Jaipur. Associated members other than sponsors and the late registrants will be accommodated at the Fairmont. There will be adequate arrangements for moving the delegate between the hotels.

Those wishing to become members of LMAI may download the membership form from the link https://www.lmai.in/membership/LMAI-Membership-Application-Form.pdf . Members wishing to register as delegates may download the forms from the following links and send to LMAI secretariat mentioned below along with remittance;

 OM Form (for ordinary members or Printer members)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19r1lEXhSIZA7POefMQSeG_zG54VJyezj/view?usp=drivesdk

 AM Form (for associate members or supplier members)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vLSJjYYbLj4U2_SKCyrRm6ItfMJuT-Hc/view?usp=drivesdk

CONFERENCE 2023 REGISTRATIONS 

· Email: lmaiconference2023@gmail.com

· Contact No: +91 88392 13636 

Manish Panchal

(Admin Secretary)
Label Manufacturers Association of India
Navi Mumbai

Mob – 8097333995

WhatsApp – 8097333995

Email – lmaiorg@gmail.com

YouTube – 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi May 2023

Dehradun headquartered Zircon Technologies has invested in the first ever OMET XFLEX X7 670mm machine in Asia.

The machine is capable of handling films and foils starting from 12micron PET. It has been equipped with special coating and drying technologies which will allow Zircon to deliver decorative packaging with sustainability built into it.

With this investment, Zircon will offer brand owners solutions in flexible packaging and labeling which are second to none globally. The press has capabilities in printing soft-touch and tactile varnishes, metallic foil and the most varied special effects.

Sanjeev Sondhi, Managing Director of Zircon says,  “Zircon has always been the front runner in bring latest and best technologies available globally to India. With the new OMET XFLEX X7, we aim to provide brand owners with flexible packaging solutions which enable them to attract and engage with consumers better, while still maintaining their sustainability targets! It is the first of its kind machine in Asia!”

Sanjeev Sondhi has been associated with the author and his family for many years and it is appreciated that he says, “ I treat Harveer Sahni as my mentor and this decision to upscale with a state of art Omet is due to motivation by him!”

This machine with capability to print at speeds of 250 meters per min, while automatically maintaining all critical parameters of printing, will take the Indian packaging to levels never reached before. It will allow consumers a unique experience with Shrink Sleeves and Stand-Up Pouches, the products of the future.

As per Andrea Angeli, Sales Area Manager of Omet, “In life, as in business, having a vision is the ability to imagine and anticipate the future: If you can see the invisible then you can achieve the impossible. This is the idea behind this OMET XFlex X7-670mm machine that has been specially designed for Zircon, based on the new innovations requested by their team, led by Mr. Sanjeev and perfectly developed by OMET.”

“Zircon and OMET are companies driven by passion to innovate. With this new investment, the relationship between Zircon and OMET is strengthened further. We anticipate new innovations in embellishments and sustainability being launched by Zircon, in the near future. We are excited to be Zircon’s partner in these new solutions!” says Pawandeep Sahni, managing director of Omet India.

Marco Calcagni the Sales Director of Omet Srl, Italy commenting on the Omet-Zircon relationship mentions, “Zircon and OMET are known to be strong partners to jointly develop technologies. This investment celebrates 10 years of partnership between the 2 companies, and I am sure, together we will achieve great heights in the future to come!”

Pawandeep Sahni

Managing Director ‑ India and Subcontinent

OMET India

Mobile: +91 98 10237954

News authored by

Harveer Sahni

Chairman

Weldon Celloplast Limited

304, 3rd Floor, 9/2 East Patel Nagar,

New Delhi-110008 India

Telephone: +91 11 25740089

email: info@weldoncelloplast.com website: www.weldoncelloplast.com

Blog: http://harveersahni.blogspot.com 

Total flexo solutions…printing, converting & Finishing!

Ever since 1450 when goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press, which started the Printing Revolution, printing technology has been evolving. The technology has come a long way from the first use of flat wooden blocks being inked and stamped on to paper to production of metal typesetting mechanizing the process. The history is very interesting and long. Printing process or technology has evolved in many forms of contact printing from flat bed to offset printing in sheet and roll to other forms of printing like rotogravure and  screen to finally reach the present-day non-contact digital printing without the need of blocks or plates and with just click of button from computer to print.

With time, labels and packaging evolved and there was a dire need to decorate the packages and labels to catch the attention of discerning customers. Embellishing processes have also been developed to become an inherent part of printing and converting process. These include varnishing, hot-foiling, cold-foiling, embossing, debossing, lamination, die-cutting etc. With the development of different printing technologies it became apparent that each technology has its own advantage. For high quality images to reproduce skin tones and vignettes, offset is preferred. For the desired pantone shades, flexo is preferred.

To achieve higher deposition of ink, screen printing delivers the desired results and to get the good metallic effects in printing with metallic inks, gravure printing is used. To produce personalization in print, have variable printing, to achieve track and trace information and security information, digital provides the option. The advent of organized retail and e-commerce becoming a part of our daily life, has brought about the need to bring the best of each technology together and achieve excellence in printing and packaging. The organisers of Pamex 2023 exhibition, All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP), in association with Print-Packaging.com saw immense value in adopting the theme “Convergence in Print” and delivering the importance of this theme to printers and other visitors to this prime show.

The theme was conveyed to the printers in the nation at different geographical venues in India  by the promoters. Roadshows with presentations by sponsors offering equipment with convergence in print and panel discussions were a part of these presentations. Technical presentations on technologies such as printed electronics were also a part of the roadshows. Diverse information and knowledge was delivered to attendees at locations like Bangalore, Pune, Guwahati, Indore and Haridwar.

The focused efforts by the team of AIFMP headed by President Ravi Joshi, Tushar Dhote and organizer Anil Arora of Print-Packaging.com produced a successful event. The final show Pamex 2023 held at Bombay Exhibition Centre Goregaon Mumbai on 27th-30th March 2023 was an immense success. 33,812 visitors and over 450 exhibitors thronged the venue and came from many countries around the world.

On the penultimate evening Pamex 2023 played host to a glittering awards ceremony at the Gala Exhibitors’ Evening. AIFMP decided to institute several new awards to add to the prestigious NAEP and  VCPLA Awards that were given away in the last edition. The awards was with full attendance and printers and suppliers networked and celebrated the togetherness.

I present my walk-through pictures of the event:

If the number of visitors at recent printing and packaging shows is an indicator of growth in demand, it sure is a time that indicates that demand is rising, and the shadow of gloom spread by the pandemic seems to have faded if not disappeared completely. So scary was the impact of Covid-19 that despite the resilience this industry portrayed, all investments were put on hold as uncertainty prevailed. Indians are largely brought up such that as a deliverance of heritage, when anyone questions, “how is business?” Most of the times the prompt answer is, “Good!” This is expressed so, even though there may be a slowdown or other challenges in the workplace. However, when an Indian answers “Very Good” with a broad smile, like we have witnessed at the recent packaging shows, it surely indicates happier times are back again.

The exhibition industry has faced some of the most challenging times due to the pandemic but when the shows returned, the number of visitors and participants have been on the rise. Last May 2022, as PrintPack India drew to a close, reviewing that event , Noel D’Cunha managing editor of Printweek India wrote, “A feeling of business returning back to normal was apparent”. Many found that despite two postponements and the scare of Covid, the Greater Noida event to be busier and more successful than expected. IPAMA, the organisers of Printpack reported 1,03,412 visitors from 52 countries visited the show that was showcased by 487 companies. In July 2022 PackPlus in New Delhi also reported success with 12239 visitors and 153 exhibitors. Labelexpo Americas in September 2022 saw 362 exhibitors and 13,569 visitors from 77 countries including India. It is surprising that many Indians travelled such long distance for a label show. Later in November 2022 Labelexpo India also reported a triumphant return after a hiatus of 4 years, they reported over 12000 visitors, a 22% increase over the  last show with 250 exhibitors.

After being postponed for over a year, Pamex 2023 being organized in Mumbai from 27th to 30th March 2023 is heading for a massive success. The last edition of the show witnessed over 35,000 visitors and 375 exhibitors. The current edition of the show is slated to be 25% larger than the previous one.

It will be spread over 12,000 square meters in 3 halls with 425 exhibitors and the organisers are expecting over 40,000 visitors. According to Anil Arora President Print-Packaging.com, the organizer of Pamex, “despite no direct participation from Chinese exhibitors, the show will be at least 25% larger in terms of space sold over the last edition. We hope to see a similar growth in visitor footfalls”. The label, printing and packaging industry is already optimistic and looking towards a great show with networking opportunities with not just national but also global peers.

There are diverse estimates of the market size of the packaging industry in India but a conservative figure hint at close to USD 200 billion growing at around 10%, but this all includes many segments of packaging. The Indian pressure sensitive label industry is a miniscule portion of the total packaging industry though it is the largest segment of the overall labels industry. Labels have now moved into different tangents like wet glue, shrink sleeves, wrap around, in-mold labels, etc. The global pressure sensitive label market is estimated at about 50 billion US Dollars.

As for the market size of pressure sensitive labels industry in India, it has been estimated at very diverse figures. The author’s personal estimate has always been considered higher, but the author asserts it is more realistic and estimated on strength of his experience in the Indian market. The finished label market size according to the author’s personal estimate is between Rupees 4500-5000 Crores which by current conversion rate amounts to 610 million US Dollar. The figure translates in less than 1.5% of the global pressure sensitive label market size, indicating a huge potential for growth. This estimate includes all the labels in roll form, sheet form, Barcode/EDP labels, plain labels and manually produced pressure sensitive or self-adhesive labels.

Current trends as witnessed from the moves and actions of the labels and packaging industry indicate a robust growth in capacities. The increased demand for packaging has been witnessed with the advent of developments in ecommerce, tempting more and more consumers to make purchases online from within the confines of their homes. Innovative and attractive labels and packaging ensure a greater brand recall without dependence on shop shelves to decide what to buy and where to buy. There have been challenges due to a dire need for sustainability, but the good thing is industry is now making efforts for the betterment of humanity by taking these challenges positively. Now industry is moving away voluntarily from single use plastics, compostable or bio-degradable, using materials that are recyclable or reusable and reducing adverse impact on environment.

New investments are being made with such sustainable measures in mind. Reducing production waste, producing to economies of scale and managing waste responsibly  are imperatives considered when expansions are being made.

Another change that one has witnessed in the last few packaging shows is that the Make-in-India effect has become evident and acceptable not just for consumer products but also for equipment and tooling. It was interesting  to see so many Indian label press manufacturers offering good acceptable quality equipment that is comparable to the international presses.

All the press manufacturers who exhibited at the labelexpo India reported sales and some of them multiple sales with information of them having made numerous installations successfully not only in India but also around the world. The Make in India concept was not limited to press manufacturers, there were Indigenous manufacturers of magnetic cylinders, anilox rolls, tooling, inspection systems, plate mounters and in fact the whole gamut of requirements of the printing and converting fraternity. The best part is that the offerings not only perform fairly well but are also affordable and come within the reach of middle level printers and converters.

With the middle level printing companies increasing their capabilities by investing in new India-made modular all-UV and all-Servo presses with all accessories as in the international brands, there is intense competition. Such label printers have an advantage as the impact of the capital expense on input cost is substantially reduced.

Thus, there is a need for the top end printers to further enhance their capabilities by investing in higher end equipment with hybrid printing presses employing diverse printing technologies including digital, gravure, screen and offset besides flexo, embellishing and innovative possibilities, quick changeovers, reduced dependence on manpower, faster job setup with high-end automated registration controls ensuring minimal setup waste, lower energy consumption, nonstop continuous production for longer runs, etc. There is compelling evidence of new demands from print buyers.  The industry is in an evolutionary phase, on one side there is increasing competition due to increasing number of label printers on the other hand, print buyers big and small are also demanding  short runs with digital printing for variable and personalized labels. It is time when the sustainably endeavors indicate efforts to cut down on secondary packaging, the need for higher end more embellished labels with security features are in demand to aid aesthetics that will enhance brand value. The growing Indian population and increased literate workforce is ensuring an increase in demand with better labels and packaging. At this time when the growth is becoming evident, the better equipped and the fittest will excel!

Written By Harveer Sahni, Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi  March 2023