The Indian self-adhesive label industry has risen from basic grassroot levels, most of the initial entrants who pioneered to create these labels were first generation small entrepreneurs. Starting with manual screen-printing process in the 1960s in sheet form, they ventured forward into flat-bed narrow web label printing and converting. By the 1990s label printing further evolved to use flexographic printing process and went on developing continuously to transform into integration of multiple printing technologies on the same  label press with embellishing and converting in-line in a single pass. Most of the earlier entrants, the pioneers who provided impetus for the growth and spread of narrow web self-adhesive label, were either single owner or family-owned small businesses. These initial front runners were partners to industry in transforming a major part of the then prominently used wet glue labels to self-adhesive labels popularly called those days as “stickers”! What were hand applied labels started to be applied from roll form by automatic label applicators on packaging lines, ensuring increased usage and demand of self-adhesive labels. The 1990s saw a lot of growth in label manufacturing and by end of decade, international interest in the Indian label industry started to surface. But at this time the Chinese label market started to register rapid growth attracting the multinational material suppliers and printers turning their attention to the Growing Chinese market. Many industry experts did caution that eventually correction will take place and the growth will slowdown. However still the large population always indicates a robust growth as organized retail grows. Global investments in label grew. As China, India too has a large population and  on the other hand it continued to grow in a stable and steady pace. A young English speaking literate population assured a positive continuous growth of label usage, indicating a stability in continued growth and evolution. This fact started to sink in and the ownerships in the industry started transforming. 

In the start of the new millennium the international interest in Indian label industry became evident. Paper products Limited, established in 1935 in Lahore (Then a part of India), a flexible packaging company had entered label manufacturing in 1994 and in mid-1999 multinational Huhtamaki had acquired 50% of the shareholding in Paper Products Ltd. and later acquiring it wholly. Even though label manufacturing was a small part of their business yet, this I believe was the point when we saw the start of entry of multinational companies investing in label manufacturing in India.

Other foreign companies who entered and invested into label manufacturing in India included the likes of 3M in 1987, Brady’s in 2006, Printcare in 2008 and some others mostly in garment accessories business. Then we did have those who tried, indulged but had to shelve  their plans. CCL acquired a stake in Mumbai based Super labels in 2011 but had to stop as the relationship did not work out, Mikael Dahl of Nordvalls Sweden too invested with a partner and later quit and then there is Reynders who partnered with Goodwork company but later they split and both partners went their own way to run their own label companies in India, Reynders have their wholly owned company Reynders in Chopanki, Rajasthan. As regards material side in labelstock manufacturing, the world’s largest, Avery Dennison started manufacturing in Gurgaon India in 1997.

Kaygee Papers Pvt. Ltd. was set up by Pranay Godha in 1997. It became Kaygee-Loparex, a joint venture in 2001 with investment from Loparex, the world’s leading developer and producer of specialty paper and film release liners. In 2015, Loparex Group assumed 100% ownership of the Indian joint venture company, Kaygee-Loparex India Private Ltd. later renamed Loparex India Private Limited. Meanwhile the founder Pranay Godha moved on to join IPCA laboratories headed by his father  Premchand Godha. Pranay is now the executive director of this global pharmaceuticals company.

The mergers and acquisition activity in the Indian label industry got a fillip when in February 2012 Gururaj Ballarwad led Wintek Flexoprints based in Bangalore India, had been acquired by Hyderabad based ITW Signode, a subsidiary of the multi-billion Dollar fortune 200 global industrial products company ITW, head quartered in Illinois, USA. Wintek is now a part of Signode India Limited. Gururaj the co-founder of Wintek after completing his post-handover stint is now enjoying his retirement. He spent many months with his daughter and grandchildren in the UK and then some time in USA visiting and attending a wedding in family of a friend. His sons run their package printing business on their own. He now relaxes at his home in Bangalore and uses his time reading and researching religious epics like Bhagwad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharta, etc. He is also indulging in authoring some of his findings. However still he is available to his label industry friends for any advice they need from him.

Two weeks after Wintek was acquired by ITW, another European multinational label and packaging company Skanem, acquired India’s biggest label printers Interlabels, Mumbai. Headed by the brothers Bhavin and Gautam Kothari, Interlabels had been in the forefront of label industry. Bhavin Kothari has been one of the founders of LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India) and later the President of this association. Post-acquisition Bhavin is now heading a professionally managed company Qodenext. QodeNext is the merged entity of Mumbai based Intellicon Private Limited, Bangalore based Essae Technologies Private Limited and Mumbai based Intercode Solutions Private Limited. QodeNext is a supply chain traceability technology, consulting and service company providing solutions for Barcode, RFID, Vision, Cognitive Computing, IoT, Predictive Analysis and emerging technologies. Bhavin does oversee the business but it is not a 9am to 5pm job, he spends a lot of time pursuing his hobby of playing Golf. 

Gautam Kothari also has a startup in which he is actively involved. He invested in an enterprise started by his ex-employees, “Worldpack Automation Systems Pvt. Ltd.” manufacturing Automated Labelling Systems. Though it is a 10 AM  to 5PM business that he attends at least 4 to 5 days a week, but he is happy he does not have the stress that was prevalent when in label manufacturing. “I have more control over my time, taking time off for personal family vacation is now easy and without any stress” says Gautam . He also has a label factory with a partner in Bangladesh, he does visit some time, but in the last two years did not go there due to pandemic.

In September 2012, Mumbai based Positive Packaging Industries Ltd., a leading player in the flexible packaging space, a part of the international conglomerate, the Enpee Group with manufacturing facilities in India, Nigeria and UAE, acquired Bangalore based SGRE Labels Private Limited led by Sujeev G and Subba Reddy. Post-acquisition Sujeev and Subba Reddy set up SGRE Pack Pvt. Ltd. to manufacture rigid boxes.

By end of the year 2012 in November, controlling stake in Mumbai based Webtech Labels led by Amar Chhajed was acquired by Indian subsidiary of Huhtamäki Oyj. Later Webtech became an integral part of Huhtamaki and Amar was elevated to become the president of their labeling division. By March 31, 2022, Amar Chhajed left Huhtamaki to move on to other avenues. He has invested in real estate through his new venture Webtech Realty in which he is involved full time. In fact, he is now a builder and is building two important projects one of which is perhaps the largest real estate project in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. He has also  invested in a few other projects to support the promoters known to him, one of them is Pactech Machinery making label applicators, but his role is limited to being an investor only. That remains his only small connect with the packaging industry.

In January 2015 Huhtamaki acquired Positive Packaging Industries India Ltd. Since label manufacturing company SGRE had earlier been acquired by Positive Packaging, the label business was addition to the growing capacity of labels manufacturing for multinational Huhtamaki in India.

With Amar Chhajed at helm as President of their labeling business Huhtamaki India completed the acquisition of Indian part of Chandan Khanna’s Ajanta Packaging Private Limited in June 2018. Chandan was still young to retire and moreover he still had his UAE and Thailand factories. He initially visualized a sabbatical and fun times ahead using the geographical location of his factories for vacationing to mix business with pleasure. His wife Kiran had given up her work to bring up the children and now when they were grown, the entrepreneur in her surfaced. She suggested to Chandan that they had done enough business in B2B space, now they should try their hand at the B2C segment. She decided to let the designer in her to emerge and with financial support from husband Chandan, she initiated her startup Stylejunkiie www.stylejunkiie.com offering Apparel and Clothing for fashion statement makers. They started with online selling and a store in Mumbai. Chandan does support her as an investor partner and as an experienced person in managing business, he guides her, otherwise the venture is totally Kiran’s to run and grow. Surprisingly after selling Indian part of the business, Chandan and his wife Kiran are buoyant and with renewed energy ready to grow their fashion apparel business to great heights.

On April 29, 2022, Mumbai headquartered SMI Coated products Pvt. Ltd. Led by Ajay Mehta was 100% acquired by Jindal Poly Films’ wholly owned subsidiary – Jindal PolyPack. SMI is the largest Indian company that manufactures self-adhesive labelstock having production facility at Ambernath with a slitting and distribution company in Jebel Ali, UAE. Post divesting his stake in SMI, Ajay and family are taking a sabbatical for four to six months before deciding their next venture. At this time, they are relaxed and talking to people exploring options for their next move, but they are not in a hurry. Meanwhile they have setup an investment company in UAE to make investments where they deem fit.

Pensively Ajay mentions, that with this he has done the right thing for his team who helped him reach this level, however it is disturbing that he has got distanced from a lot of friends from the labels industry for which he did a lot and was always there to support. He is happy and thankful for the love and respect he has got from his peers in the label industry. Still positive and not calling it a day, he is ready to indulge and rise to another level.

Many years ago, when the world was going through a recession, our European and American friends expressed surprise when they met their Indian friends, they would say that in the western world when economically there is meltdown, any would make a face and either say, “surviving!” or “Not too good.” On the contrary if you meet an Indian and you ask, “How is business?” pat comes the reply, “GOOD!” It is our heritage and we have been taught that when questioned “how are you?” The answer in Hindi, our national language, is “THEEK HAI” means, “Fine.” So, for, all the India entrepreneurs  who sold their stakes, did not entirely quit, it is “theek hai” and now another venture and another success. They, or their families have either started new ventures or on the verge of investing to keep moving on!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi May 2022. Author https://harveersahni.blogspot.com and www.labelsandpackagingworld.com

Label printing technologies have undergone a sea change after the onset of 21st century. In the beginning of new millennium, the flatbed and letterpress processes made way for the narrow web flexographic printing which eventually grew to become the most preferred print technology for labels. With technological advances in prepress and plate-making process, Flexo print quality became closer to offset. This was followed up by hybrid printing using flexo, screen, gravure and later also offset printing in a single pass. We have been seeing the convenience of desktop office printers, inkjet or laser but they remained that way for long and were not used for high quality labels in roll form. It is only in the second decade of the 21st century that digital label printing began evolving. By middle of the decade, it was growing substantially in the western part of the World, yet but in India it did not find many takers.

 

In May 2015, I reviewed and wrote about the indulgence of Indian label industry in Digital printing equipment, I interviewed leading label printing companies of that time in an article titled; “Label Printing in India, digital has to wait”, available at the link;   https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2015/05/label-printing- in-india-digital-has-to.html

In the summation I wrote; I am quite amazed by the similarity of responses from most of the persons who responded. All of them had expressed that the cost per print in digital does not prove it to be a viable proposition, considering the prohibitive cost of the equipment and that of ink and consumables. The undercurrent in all expressions is that digital printing as things stand now will not be the mainstream technology. It will co-exist with existing technologies and will be used for specific demanding needs. As for the time frame before digital printing becomes largely visible and used in label printing in India, they said it varies between 3 to 5 years. So, for the time being, “It has to wait a while!”

 

Two years hence, on May 7th 2017 I did yet another survey and wrote my article titled, “Digital label printing in India, the journey has begun! Self Adhesive Labels Industry In India and The World: Digital label printing in India, the journey has begun! (harveersahni.blogspot.com)My estimation was as follows: By latest count, the population of leading brands of digital label presses in India had reached twenty-two in number. This was besides the low value small printers that some companies may have acquired. Now this was a fairly impressive figure when just until over a year back the industry felt that digital has to wait. Estimating the size of the digital label market, I calculated the total consumption in the industry for digitally printed labels to over 52 million square meters per annum, which translated into to almost 5% of the total self-adhesive labels in India to be printed digitally. This surely indicated that for digital label printing in India, the journey had begun!

 

 

European Label Industry Association Finat had revealed in a statement that European digital label press installations overtook conventional press sales for the first time in 2017. The journey that began, has now progressed to be on a growth path. In fact, repetitive purchase confirms that the technology is not only here to stay but also attain steady growth.

 

 

 

 
In the present private survey or research in respect of digital printing of labels in roll form, done personally by me, I have arrived at interesting results. The data being presented here is entirely my own estimation and I have not depended on any already published authenticated information. I have interacted with the following renowned brands to arrive at figures that I present in this article;

 

Domino

Durst

Epson

HP

Konica Minolta

Monotech

Screen

Xeikon

 

The number of digital roll label presses of leading brands in India has expanded from the 22 in 2017 to 51 in 2022 registering a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 18% as regards the number of press installations. Out of these HP Indigo accounts for 16 presses  which include two 25K which find usage both for labels as well as for flexible packaging and one HP Indigo for Lamitubes, Konica Minolta 10, Monotech 8, Domino 3, Xeikon 2, Durst 4, Screen 2, Epson was 5 machines as assessment done in 2017 since they did not respond I believe there have been no additions thereafter. Two water-based  inkjet presses from Astronova are also in the tally of 51 presses. If we consider just the numbers, Hp has 32% share of the installations, Konica Minolta 20%, Monotech 16%, Durst 8%, Domino 6%, Epson, Screen and Astronova account for the balance . However, this is not a real indicator of the quantum of investment by label printing companies in digital printing technology. I have done the calculation on the approximate costs of these equipment, the total investment in digital roll label equipment is more than Rupees 215 Crores or about 28 million US Dollars.  HP being the most expensive equipment of the lot, accounts for a whopping 66% of the investment made in value  while all others remain less than 10%.

 

Considering the geographical spread in number of installations; 36% of the established brand installations are in the West of India, 36% in the North and 11% in South. However, in terms of value,   the West leads the way, followed by South. As for label materials consumed, in 2017 I had calculated that 52 million square meters of labelstock was converted by digital printing. The consumption with increased investments and faster speeds appears to have more than doubled to over 109 million square meters registering a CAGR of 16%. As indicated by the people I interviewed there are many more installations being planned that will ensure continuous growth in this segment of label printing and converting.

Digital printing means web to print; it is an exciting process as compared to the analogue or conventional printing, yet it brings with it, challenges that translate it into a not so simple process. A technology that was initially being promoted as a complementary technology to conventional printing has reached a stage of being referred to as a competitive one. With presses going wider and running at higher speed and consumables getting affordable, it will not be long before it becomes a contemporary mainstream technology . However, those who have had the success and have understood the nuances of digital printing, are looking at expanding further in this segment of printing. I sought comments from many who have invested into digital capabilities and their responses make interesting reading.

Denver Annunciation, Janus International:  Janus International are pioneers, they were the very first label manufacturing company who invested in an HP Indigo press at their Thane facility. The brothers Denver and Janus are very enterprising. They have offset, flexo and Digital printing capabilities, all of which are doing well for them. They are a company who are growing beyond the inflationary growth. Being  manufacturer of beer and liquor labels, they wanted to do something different, and they took the challenge of investing in digital label printing. Since HP was the only established supplier of digital presses at that time with a proper setup, it was natural for them to install an HP Indigo press. Denver says, “Digital helped us cater to smaller businesses and widen our customer base while our other capabilities drove in the volumes.”  According to him digital does provide opportunities for creativity but it is not a standalone equipment that will deliver. You need different prepress and post-press finishing setup. It also involves additional resources that add up to per unit cost like requirement of same amount of manpower for packing, delivering and invoicing smaller shipments. Despite this adds Denver, “it gives a fair return and we will definitely look at expanding our digital capabilities“. Referring to their experience with digital Denver says, “Initial challenges were there, it has been a long journey, but surely enjoyable”.

Anil Namugade, Trigon Digital: Trigon Digital has been in the news in recent years for their multiple investments and expansion in the state of art digital equipment. Anil Namugade Managing Director of Trigon while answering why he opted for digital says, “Good label finishing and converting for me is like oxygen to heart, blood and brain for creativity.” Trigon has invested in multiple digital equipment and the biggest of them an HP Indigo 25K, his second HP Indigo after the first 6900. He asserts that digital has helped them grow, as since their inception 14 years ago they have been using only digital technology. Their business has been growing. Anil expresses, “digital is a mindset, we need to have a bit different approach in understanding the customer’s requirements and our capabilities to serve them.”

Honey Vazirani, Leap Digiprint:  Honey and Vikram, both directors of Leap Digiprints, spent 25 years in labels and packaging industry working for Paper products Ltd. later renamed Huhtamaki PPL Limited after acquisition by multinational Huhtamaki Oyj, so packaging is what they knew best. Wanting to be more futuristic, ecofriendly and wishing to initiate a small boutique business of their own, they made the choice to setup their maiden startup venture in Noida NCR Delhi. Selecting a strong digital print partner that time, HP was the best choice. The technology has helped them grow, giving the desired results from producing variable and short run of labels. Says Honey,” The turnaround times, print runs of 100-200 meters, variable printing…all the capabilities that attracted us to digital are still clear advantages.” Further she  adds, “Overall it has been good experience. However, it is not as trouble free as one would expect it to be. Also, the costs and pricing need to be handled effectively but unfortunately the downstream conversion for labels (post digital printing) is not as well developed as it should be to support short runs”

Harish Gupta, Sai Digistik: Harish Gupta led Sai Digistik has invested in two digital label presses HP with liquid toner & Konica Minolta with dry toner technology. According to Harish, the dry toner technology has limitations of only CMYK printing, no white and printing on limited substrates, so we have both liquid toner and dry toner printing capabilities to have the best of both. Cost of digital printing is high, it was very good working with digital during pandemic phase-1 when manpower was short, and requirements were instant. Short runs are easy to handle, and we got focused to help startups for their smaller needs with our motto “Startup for Startups.” With no need of plates and make ready etc., the turnaround time is less, yet it is not a simple technology, one needs to study thoroughly before investing. Cost of producing labels is higher as compared to flexo, but it is felt that, as we grow in volumes the costs of consumables will reduce. However, as we see the trends globally, with manpower becoming a challenge and reducing length of jobs, digital is bound to grow and find preference.

Surendra Shriyan, Maa Flexi-label: An offset printer who realised that volume-based production has decreased with more variables and short runs, in the given scenario digital is the future for good printability and  fast turnaround time. They opted for HP Indigo label press. Being new entrants, they are exploring exciting possibilities but feel pricing in digital is a challenge. After observing the changes in the western world regarding the digital label printing, even though they are convinced that it is futuristic, yet they say, “It is not all, a bed of roses.”

Nilesh Jain, Mahavir Impex: They opted for a Durst UV Inkjet label press for its print quality output without applying any primer on most substrates. Nilesh expresses that digital has helped to achieve desired results within minimal time and reduction of undesired wastages. They feel it will become the predominant technology , but the results from different digital print technologies (dry toner/liquid toner /UV Inkjet etc.) would not give a uniform and similar print result on various substrates. The advantage of digital for them is outstanding quality achieved at good speed and reduction of waste with no investment on plates and other expenses.

Manish Hansoti, S Kumar: Narrating his experience with digital label printing, Manish Hansoti says; “Looking to cater to demand of small quantity, variable printing multiple S K U’s and label on demand, we have invested in a Screen digital label printing press. We had assessed all technologies and found Screen ink jet printing technology was a better fit for us as we wanted to print labels with less ink coverage for specific customers. The cost of the ink in this process was found lower as against dry toner FASMA/click charges. We consider digital technology as part of customer service because in small volume there is no chance of making topline but can get customer satisfaction. The technology will grow if the capex goes down and ink price or click charges drop, then there will be big changes in global printing scenario. Short run or variable printing is profitable but there is limitation in getting many such orders, so we always have spare capacity. We do not see another investment in digital until costs of inputs come down.”

Priyank Vasa from Unick Fix A Form: “The Domino N610i digital label press was acquired by us in 2018. Wanting to free up our flexo capacity to improve turnaround time and job throughput, we started exploring options. We narrowed down to the Domino N610i because of Domino's strong presence in India and its service network.

Evaluating its media compatibility, color matching, accuracy of pantone reproduction, ink cost analysis, it looked the right press for us. The press was commissioned in the beginning of 2020. Dealing with a modern technology we knew there lies a learning curve ahead. In the present-day scenario, we have been able to take up new business both for flexo and digital. Digital has added to our sales where we are able to completely leverage the opportunity cost which could not happen in flexo. We do not limit use of the digital press to small runs. It has also opened new avenues for us in respect to products like IML, Shrink sleeves, Cartons and VDP.”

 

Vinod Vazhapuli, Skanem IndiaHaving run a very innovative campaign for the FMCG company Reckitt Benckiser(RB) Vinod Vazhapuli Managing Director of Skanem India is very optimistic about including more digital printing capabilities in his company’s expansion plans. Skanem  had been a part of Dettol’s unique packaging commemorating Covid warriors. Please see my blogpost titled Dettol Labels used to salute "Covid Warriors"! Skanem India, a part of Norway headquartered Skanem AS was one of the two approved vendor of RB who were roped in to execute this special campaign of Dettol customized labels. The deliberations for this campaign started when Reckitt approached Skanem in second week of May 2021 and discussed the possibility of creating one hundred variably printed unique labels. Having an HP Indigo press, the capability was there. They were given an order for two million labels. It was a gigantic task as there were one hundred artworks. RB wanted the right pantone shade of Dettol and the job had to be done in speed, so Skanem requested RB to give them the artworks also in CMYK because to match the green Dettol shade as close as possible to the required shade it is necessary to have the prepress right. The approvals were done online and the material delivered in time. That is the power of digital, the rest is history.

 

Rajeev Chhatwal, Kwality Offset: Rajeev sums it all well, he says he sees a good future for digital label converting. Printers need to look at this technology positively and separately without drawing a comparison with analogue or current capabilities even though it is a business that needs to run parallel with your current profile of business. One of the biggest advantage of digital is that it helps one to increase customer base. A larger customer base, if attended well, ensures continued growth. To find success in digital arena one needs to accept that there is a definite learning phase and one must provide for contingencies while planning and be prepared for them. Rajeev says, “It is a business that has a bright future in which the fittest, the one with guts and endurance, will survive and excel. It is a business that provides impetus to your present business and when you do short, variable and personalized run for a customer, you have a happy customer! In a young Indian population becoming spenders, ecommerce is looking up, does it not ensure positive growth of Digital which permits variable and personalized printing? Are we not looking at the numbers of startups on rise? My next investment, maybe a year down the line,  will be digital, I invested in a Xeikon with dry toner technology, which I am happy with, I will probably go for a UV Inkjet next to expand my capabilities”.

 

The author is grateful to the people without whose help and inputs this compilation may not have been possible. Those whose support I got, include Umesh Kagade and entire team of HP, Shayak Mukherjee of Konica Minolta, Ajay RaoRane of Domino Printech, Vikram Saxena of Xeikon, Jimit Mittal of Monotech and Ajay Agarwal of Insight Print Communication for Screen and Venkatesh Selveraj of Printronics for Durst.

Note: Printing magazine and portals can republish the above ONLY after giving credit to the author Harveer Sahni and mentioning blog https://harveersahni.blogspot.com 

 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India April 2022

On any given day, 96-year-old S.N. Dutta, Satya Narayan Dutta, the patriarch of Dutta family of Dutta Press New Delhi, can be seen strolling on the shop floors of their printing or machine building units, interacting with workers, and imparting instructions. The man is active and an institution himself in printing. Dutta was born on 15th of August 1926, long years before the partition of India, in a family that hailed from Lahore, then a part of British ruled united India. His father was the head of accounts for Indian railways. Sometime in the 1940s as a young man, he developed an interest in printing so went to a family acquaintance, Kedar Nath Mehta, a master printer in Amritsar for a one-year training in the art of printing. They used to print on Chandler & Price platen presses and supply labels to Punjab based distilleries in Hamira and Khasa. Chandler & Price was founded in 1881 in Cleveland, Ohio and manufactured a series of hand-fed platen jobbing presses, as well as an automatic feeder for these presses.

 

Chandker and Price Machine
Love marriages were rare in those days before the partition of India, however S.N. Dutta during his training days at Kedar Nath Mehta’s facility, developed a liking for Mehta’s daughter and eventually married her. Post partition the Dutta’s moved to their Haveli, a traditional townhouse mansion in Darya Ganj Delhi. The Haveli was a heritage building that had earlier belonged to one Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, one of the Navratans of Mughal King Akbar. It was allotted to Duttas on migration from Lahore to Delhi after partition for a sum of Rupees 4000 only. In 1951 S.N. Dutta started his maiden startup venture “Dutta Press” with a Chandler and Price machine on the ground floor of their Haveli. He bought the printing press for Rupees 1200.00 and did not have the money to put an electric motor on it. So, initially the machine was foot operated with a peddle. As a memento and a reminder of their past, the machine still stands tall on a pedestal in the lobby of their Okhla factory. Thereafter from 1951-1965 Dutta was on the move continuously, he also set up his own typesetting and composing section, then added two more machines, following it up with buying a new Heidelberg GT Platen press for just four thousand Rupees, then in the mid 1970’s a Mercedes Super Cylinder Press from Printer’s House in Faridabad, Nibolo and some more letterpress cylinder machines. Customer base acquired during this period included those from segments like beer, whiskey and lubricants with main customer being Mohan Meakin. S N Dutta has two sons Rakesh and Abhay, as business had grown and the boys were now grown up, it was time to move to the next level of business. In 1980 they moved to a new factory in Okhla and imported their first Heidelberg KORD offset press and Heidelberg TP Foil stamping machine from Germany. Those were tough times of needing import license for all imports, yet firm resolve made them to move on.

 

 

Heidelberg Weisloch Factory
Abhay Datta the younger son of S.N. Dutta, born on 16th August 1961, is an Alumnus of St. Xaviers School Delhi. He was never a serious student but had other technical interests. Barely 16 years old and in school, he started experimenting with making music systems. On finishing school, he along with his friend Joseph George set up their maiden startup venture Systm India to make and sell music systems. Abhay proudly mentions that in a couple of years his company’s turnover was higher than that of Dutta Press. Young boys in business families are prompted to spend time in family production units and Abhay was no exception and whatever exposure he got was by way of his father mentoring him to have a penchant for perfection and zero tolerance in whatever he did. One fine day his father came to him and complained, “you make so much noise testing your music systems, speakers etc., neighbours are irritated . It is not a respectable business. He appealed to Abhay that they needed help in the printing business and that he should wind up this music equipment business and join him in the printing business. Obedient as he was with immense respect for his father, Abhay could not refuse his father’s request. Abhay’s elder brother Rakesh was better in finance and other marketing activities. In just a matter of minutes Abhay decided to hand over the music business to his friend Joseph and moved on to the printing business at Dutta Press. He was sent to Heidelberg training center in Germany for training in print technologies where he spent time in the Wiesloch factory understanding mechanics and engineering of offset presses. It was an eye-opening experience for him. In India we did not have CNC machines, no auto cad computers, all the planning was done manually on huge drafting boards. It was there in Germany that he gathered an eye for perfection, low tolerances, fine finishing, good appearance and machine safety norms. This was as his father had mentored him to be a zero-tolerance person.

 

 

UV Coating Machine
Once back in the Okhla factory Abhay had to begin at the lowest rung of the ladder. He was required to clean up the machines, sweep the floor, take care of staff, serve them tea and support them in small errands besides operating all the machines personally. He learnt to run all the machines like an operator, make negatives/positives and offset plates and foil stamping blocks himself. Those were days when there were no PS plates, so he learnt all the chemistries hands on. Graining offset plates, putting sand, marbles etc. in graining machines, he did all that himself. He was a total worker like any laborer in the factory doing all kinds of jobs that included printing varnishing cutting packing and dispatch. The experience has rubbed on so well on him that even today on the shop floor in hot and humid conditions with perspiration trickling down his torso he enjoys remaining amongst his workforces. He is a hardcore technical and shopfloor production-oriented person while brother Rakesh manages the white-collar part of management. With Abhay’s penchant for perfection, he proudly mentions that we made quality, such that print buyers would come looking for them. Since they were supplying to breweries and distilleries, they came across a challenge; solvent base varnishes on labels scuffed and needed to be replaced with Water based varnishes, but these would not work on existing hand fed varnishing machines produced locally due to slow drying. Abhay was given a task by his father to make a machine that could coat aqueous varnishes at high speeds. He developed an automatic machine with the help of Sanjay Gupta of Ronald Machinery and added an anilox roll with a motor and hot air dryer to do the varnish. It worked and that was when his tryst with machine building commenced. Later he started manufacturing fully automated high-speed machines to do aqueous and UV coating with anilox rollers and chamber doctor blade systems.

 

 

Abhay Datta on Shop Floor
 

 

After that there was no looking back in machine developments. Abhay was young, success encouraged him to research, experiment and develop more from a shed in the driveway of their Okhla factory, it has been a long journey with lot of hurdles. He then started converting hot stamping machine for own use and sales. Since in earlier days they had bought a Heidelberg hot stamping machine, from experience gained, Abhay could convert die cutting machines and the Chandler and Price machines into hot stamping machines. When stamping foil suppliers became aware of his capabilities to make hot stamping machines, he became an accredited suppliers to many companies who indulged in hot stamping. In 1992 he successfully started making UV coaters and till 2016 they have supplied over 250 offline UV coating machines in India and Abroad.

 

 

During his 1995 visit to Drupa, he was fascinated by an Aquaflex label press printing Smirnoff Vodka labels. Unlike the sheet fed converting, the press was unwinding, printing, embellishing, laminating, die-cutting and delivering finished labels at the end of line in a single pass. Abhay was convinced that this is the future. Those days there was no WhatsApp where he could take videos and upload to inform his family about the equipment. Wanting his father and brother to also look at the machine before deciding, he made a trunk call, described the machine and requested them to come and see. Three days later both his father and brother flew into Germany, they saw and fell in love with the machine. They became friends with the founder of Aquaflex, signed the deal to buy a press and also became the sole selling agents in India. They opted for an eight colour press with rotary hot foil stamping. It was a bold decision as rotary tooling for hot foiling was very expensive, cold foil was not there that time and most of their production for liquor labels needed foiling. In their factory they already had 20 Heidelberg hot foil machines running, they used to buy used Heidelberg platen machines and convert them into hot foil stamping machines by retrofitting, all done by Abhay himself. The Aquaflex ordered by them was displayed at Labelexpo Singapore in 1996 and then shipped to India for Dutta Press to start printing labels on a narrow web press. Till the end of the millennium 1999 they were only printing wet glue labels on this machine. Pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) labels production commenced only in the new millennium in 2000, they kept adding Aquaflex presses in regularity.

 

 

Ultraflex Label Press
Between 1996 and 2003 as agents, they sold nine machines to customers like PPL, ITC, Modi Federal, Sai Packaging and others. They added four more press at Dutta Press. In 2001 Aqua flex got sold to Chromos USA . At this time when he was under pressure to offer a press to his customers, he met a software engineer who suggested the name of Shanti Pal Ahuja of Multitec and once the two met, they instantly decided to get together to build label presses. Abhay invited Ahuja to his facility and have a look at the Aquaflex label presses and to do reverse engineering of the press. A complete unit was removed from the Aquaflex and sent to Multitec facility in Faridabad. It was completely meticulously redrawn and the first Ultraflex machine was developed and sold to Nishi Labels in Ahmedabad and the second machine was exhibited at Nehru Centre in the first “India Labels show” which later became Labelexpo India. That machine got sold on the very first day of the show to Khosro Moradi, of Farah Banfash Manufacturing Company, Iran. Few years down, having sold over a dozen presses, their partnership fell apart and Multitec renamed their press as Ecoflex and Abhay Datta retained the name Ultraflex that he would build himself one day. Until such time for their own label manufacturing they invested in Bobst label presses

 

 

CNC Machines at UV Graphics
Passionate about making machinery himself, in 2017 after they bought their 3rd Bobst M5 press, Abhay visited Florence and was inspired to build his own flexo press. On return from Florence in September 2017, he dug deep into the Flexo Machines and studied other equipment that would enable him to build a narrow web label press. Keeping cost down and not compromising in automation he started planning a machine with zero waste and instant make ready. He launched his first Ultra flex made in his company UV Graphics. 

 

 

 

 

Ultraflex Plate Mounter
He insists that for a perfect and quick make ready, “a communication between the plate mounter and the machine is imperative.” Abhay also started making plate mounters. He asserts that with plates mounted on his plate mounters, the first meter of print which rolls out will be 99% in true register. This is his creativity. His machines and plate mounters are designed as perfectly complementary and compatible equipment  so as to make life easy for the machine operator. He claims that in 3-4 minutes you can perfectly mount an eight colour job on his plate mounter and have the machine running in full register within 3-5 meters. That says Abhay is our USP. Ultraflex machines offered by him are of international quality, fully servo driven with auto register control, it is value for money and affordable. Ever since, Abhay has already installed thirty-eight presses in India and abroad with the latest ten color machine being shipped to a prestigious customer in USA. This will be his first installation in North America and fifth machine being sold overseas.

 

 

 

Abhay has two sons Anuj and Akshay and a daughter Aallia. Both sons run the PSA labels division of Dutta Press while brother Rakesh manages the wet glue label business from Okhla. All family members are in business together as a joint family. UV Graphics and Dutta Press operate out of 66000 square feet factory in Noida and an 18000 square feet facility in Okhla with seven flexo presses in Okhla and six flexo presses in Noida. With a total of 280 employees, Abhay aspires that if God and Kismet helps UV Graphic will be a leading global supplier of diverse label equipment in 5 years. He proudly says, “we produce from nail to the hammer. In UV graphics we produce our own UV Systems, Plate mounters, Core cutting machines, Label presses, Slitter Rewinders, Semi Rotary Digital Finishing, Print Cylinders, Magnet Cylinder, Sheeting Cylinders, Hot Foiling Stamping Equipment, Screen Printing and almost everything that is needed for flexographic label printing and converting. We also make wide format Roll to Roll Hot Foil Stamping Machines for the tobacco industry.

 

The way Abhay Dutta is moving it will not be long before he achieves what he aspires.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi August 2021

 
 

 

UAE or the United Arab Emirates consists of seven independent city-states or emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Fujairah, Ajman, and Ras-al-Khaimah. Total population of all the emirates of UAE put together is much less than that of New Delhi India at 11.42 million with only 20% Emiratis and rest are expats making it the highest percentage  of  expatriates in any country in the world. The Indian expatriate population at 28% is the largest group in UAE. It is surprising that there is a substantial number of label printing companies there with more printers joining in year after year. In the start of the new Millennium, one could count the total number of label printing companies to around 10 which has now grown to over 40. Even though leading printers speak of intense competition and depleting margins yet there is a steady news of expansions and new companies joining the bandwagon of label printers. Obviously, it is not the local demand but due the business environment, conditions and facilities, the printing companies reach out to customers not only in the Middle East but also to Africa, Europe, and USA. It is a global hub from where they produce and export. It is normal to hear label printers in the region expressing difficulties due to a small market and intense competition, in such a situation it is heartwarming to see someone who comes from a fragile financial status, jumping into label printing and starting to register smart growth. One such person is Jagannath Wagle who endeavored to take the risk of setting up from virtually nothing, his maiden label venture, Sigma Middle East Labels that has started rising from humble beginnings.

 

 

 

 

Jagannath Wagle

It is rare to find humble people these days. Humility is putting pride behind, staying grounded to reality, have faith in oneself and learning from one’s modest beginnings to continuously move ahead with firm resolve and keep evolving. That is how Jagannath Wagle talks with respect and nostalgia about his humble background and times when he was growing up. this: As if living with his parents in a one 300 square feet room flat in Mumbai’s western suburb Nala Sopara along with two brothers was not crowded enough, to help the son of a family friend in village, his mother brought the boy to Mumbai to stay with them.” Jagannath’s father, an auditor with the government of India’s audit department had to manage within the meagre means to support a family of 6 people living in one room. However still they managed to impart the right education to all the children. Jagannath’s mother was a homemaker in true spirit, managing the household and the children by taking home tuitions, he reminisces fondly about her being an excellent cook.

 

 

Jagannath Wagle studied up to class 10th in Little flower English school in Nala Sopara followed by joining father Agnel technical college in 1992. Unfortunately, due to Mumbai riots in 1992 he could not attend college, had to drop a year, and later joined an institute in Vasai to complete the secondary school education. Later he wished to join an engineering college but could not afford the capitation fee demanded by institutes those days so as an alternative he studied to graduate with B.Sc. degree in Physics from Mumbai University in 1998. Due to the financial stress, a relative in Delhi suggested for him to join the Coast Guard but his mother did not relent as she wanted him to study further. He finally went on to get a B.Sc. (tech) degree that was equivalent to an engineering degree. Thereafter he started making applications for job in various organisations and also to start with, he accepted a job with a relatively small company TechGyan at a meagre salary of Rs.4000.00 per month (Approximately 55 dollars). He had a lot of interest in computers so had acquired knowledge about them and as a business to augment his earnings he started assembling computers for customers on job work basis charging Rs. 2000.00 per computer. He had already catered to almost 50 customers. At this time, he started getting interview calls from companies like HDFC, Wipro and Reliance. He was excited that he got selected in Reliance at a salary of Rs.18000. per month to start with. It is strange and a matter of kismet as to how life leads you to your eventual Karma Bhoomi, the land where one eventually works or performs his life’s deeds, this is as expressed in Indian literature. Before Jagannath could join Reliance, his family got a call from his mother’s brother in Dubai who had been tricked by someone to invest in a label manufacturing unit, knowing nothing about labels and he needed help. He requested the family to send Jagannath to Dubai.

 

 

Ajman
Like any young man Jagannath also had aspired to work in distant lands like Europe and USA but for the Dubai offer by his uncle, he was hesitant as he knew nothing about labels, his knowledge was limited to computers and engineering. His mother impressed upon him to go to Dubai and support her brother who needed help and who else he could rely upon except family at this time.  The decision was made and on 28 January 2004 Jagannath Wagle landed in UAE which everyone impulsively refers to as Dubai due to its being recognized as the face of UAE. He started to work with his uncle in Ajman, as a salesman on a salary of 1500 Dirhams per month. Though he started as salesman, but his job profile eventually became all in one, heading the label business with a team of only 3 persons just like a startup entrepreneur. Jagannath knew that with UAE having one of the highest per capita income, it would be expensive and difficult to manage in the income promised and more difficult if he got married. To make success of his career he plunged head on into the business he had no knowledge about. Customers and suppliers became his teacher and taught him all about plates, cylinders, color management etc. he was a fast learner. A business that was 10000 Dirhams per month when he joined and his uncle was pumping in money each month to sustain expenses, became 100,000 per month  in just a year’s time, all this with just one two color small tacky boy press. Any label printer will understand the  effort that must have gone into achieving this.

 

 

 

Pooja Wagle
In 2005 Jagannath convinced his uncle that to remain in business they needed another machine. A used 1980 model 7” 3color Mark Andy 830 was acquired. In today’s time of advanced servo driven modular presses that equipment sounds irrelevant yet by 2007 he was able to reach a sale of 350,000 Dirhams per month by working 24 hours every day, the Tacky boy press became redundant. Jagannath’s salary was enhanced to 3500 and he got married to Pooja from Bohisar in Mumbai. Pooja also came from a very humble background, the father having passed away, her mother taught children of poverty-stricken people. She was working as a credit card salesperson with ICICI bank. They came in contact through a matrimonial website and the marriage was arranged by parents with the couple having never met each other. Once married the couple faced financial stress and there was need to move up in life.

 

 

 

 

Part of Sigma old factory shed
There was no scope for further expansion with the existing Mark Andy 830 press, discontent crept in, Jagannath contemplated on starting on his own or returning to India, but his wife Pooja put her foot down that there was no way she will go back to India and bring up her children there. Meanwhile Jagannath’s cousin had joined the label business and took over the management. Jagannath decided to initially start his own trading business of making non adhesive liners for cores. Having no money to start manufacturing himself he started out sourcing converting also from his uncle’s company for whom he was working. He was so respectful toward his uncle because of whom he was in Dubai and had indulged in learning the label business, that he made sure not to touch any customer who was buying from them. He even kept working simultaneously with uncle during the day and after office hours for his trading business because he wanted to let his cousin to complete his MBA before he left that business completely. Once free Jagannath decided to get full-fledged into labels but making sure he never touched his uncle’s customers. He started getting his jobs done from a company called German labels and as luck would have it sometime later the owner of that company decided to quit business and sell the machine.

 

 

 

Old factory shed
Jagannath wished to buy that press but did not have the funds, so he requested the owner to accept instalments, fortunately as he was destined, the owner agreed to handover the press with 50% down payment and 50% in 6 months. Now the 50% down payment was also not there but a determined Jagannath Wagle refused to give in. In due course of time his two brothers and the friend who lived with him in Nala Sopara had all moved to Dubai and were in good jobs. They all came to rescue and pooled in money to help him buy the Mark Andy. The trade license he took in 2009 was converted to a manufacturing license in 2010. So, in January 2010 Sigma Middle East Labels Industries LLC  started their maiden venture operating with a 250mm preowned Mark Andy 830 press in an 1100 square ft shed in Ajman with just one operator and a helper. Hard work and sheer perseverance produced good results and at this time a difficult situation cropped up. The only operator he had met with an accident and in emergency had to go to India. It was during the Eid period when business is at a peak in UAE, not being the one to be left behind, Jagannath himself operated the printing machine for the next three months. When a container of stocks arrived, he and his only helper would unload and moved goods into the shed and stack them. As at that moment he could not afford help and this incident will always keep him grounded to reality. Watching him make the gigantic offer many suppliers came forward to support him. He is extremely appreciative of Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated products for his support in supplying material on credit to his start-up venture.

 

 

 

Multitec
In 2012 when his sales from just one press reached 150,000 to 200,000 Dirhams per month, it was time for Sigma to move on to the next level and acquire another bigger press, he wished to install a European brand, but paucity of funds made him decide on an eight color all UV Multitec 330mm label press which was installed in 2013. It was his first modular press and was a big jump for Jagannath. Even though he lost some money initially as his costing was not right but soon, he took corrective steps towards growth, “This was my biggest learning curve” says Jagannath. 

 

 

Bobst at New Premises
Two years down the line in 2015 a jubilant Jagannath fulfilled his dream of acquiring a European label press, a Gidue MX370 , 8 color all UV, 1 die station, delam-relam, cold foil and lamination was installed along with and some more additional equipment, also adding more shopfloor space. The fast unplanned expansion led to problems in cash flow and in 2016 Sigma ran into financial stress and troubles. Payments to suppliers were delayed and supplies became restricted. A person having risen from grass roots and not the one to give up, Jagannath kept constant touch with his vendors assuring them safety of their investment and in the meanwhile putting in enhanced efforts to nurture his company to good health. By 2017, recovery had started. Sigma moving ahead acquired yet another Gidue like the one they had. 

 

 

Brotech Finishing
Here on, a more professional approach was put in place, targets planned and achieved, more ancillary equipment including a Chinese press 5 colors with UV and hot air in 2019 to print the liners for cores was added and the second Gidue like the one bought before was bought. Yet again mentions Jagannath that SMI was there to support him, he remains indebted to them. However, learning from past experiences, he sold the Multitec press so that he did not run into financial stress again. The one 1100 square feet shed had multiplied to become 4 sheds and continued growth had become a reality at Sigma. The first used Mark Andy 830 that he had, was given to a friend in Oman at low price to help him.

 

 

 

New office

 

 

 

 

 

In 2020 things became comfortable, Sigma moved from the four 1100 square feet sheds to a plush well planned 12000 square foot facility with well-furnished and equipped offices. 

 

 

 

Going Digital with Konica Minolta

 

 

 

 

 

 

They invested 5 million Dirhams adding a Konica Minolta, foiling equipment and Esko and Asahi plate making system. 

 

 

 

 

Reception of new premises

 

In early this year 2021 Jagannath decided that his company had to upgrade to latest equipment to be more efficient in production, he sold the first Gidue he had bought and replaced it with a brand new fully loaded Gidue M5. Jagannath has finally put Sigma on its road to success and bigger business, he attributes the his journey so far to the inspiration that he got from a Indian picture “Guru” based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani the founder of Reliance Industries Ltd. He still quotes the dialogue from that film, “If I am doing well why not for myself ?”. 

 

 

 

 

The credit for this amazing journey largely goes to the woman behind Jagannath, his wife Pooja who solidly supported him right through, besides bringing up their only daughter. Pooja is a partner in the company holding the purse strings as the financial controller. No business succeeds without a good team Jagannath and Pooja carefully built their team as a family and took only people from grassroot levels and trained them, two of their teammates had joined as labour/helpers and now work as business development executive bringing in half a million Dirham business each. During their struggling days, Jagannath’s brother in law Kishor Vedpathak quit his job in Mumbai to come and support him, he now looks after Sigma as admin manager. Looking back, he reminisces that his first big break was when he got a big order for 100,000 price marking rolls from Centre Point Chain retail stores. He plans to enhance capacity again later this year with yet another flexo press plus another digital press. Up from just two employees when he started on his own, he now works with 55 employees including four designers inhouse, Sigma has registered a sale of 25 million Dirhams last year growing 30% in a pandemic year!

 

 

 

Jagannath in his new office


Deep in thought and with a smile he mentions that he wishes to be if not the biggest, he will try to be one of the biggest label printers in UAE in 5years time. He is confident that he will continue to lead Sigma Middle East Labels to keep rising to higher levels.

 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi June 2021

Print magazines my reproduce the above article by giving credit to author.

LMAI Board of directors


The 3-day LMAI label conference from 25th-27th July 2019 was an event that was efficiently organized and delivered the promise of comradeship, entertainment and knowledge sharing. From the time of landing at Kochi to the time of departures on 28th, it was all done with clockwork precision. It was a gigantic task of hosting over 550-600 delegates from all over India and various parts of the world attending this biennial event. They were put up in 317 rooms spread across 3 hotels The Bolgatty Grand Hyatt, The Marriot and The Taj. The event was held at Grand Hyatt, perched on 26 acres of plush green land on the serene Bolgatty Island, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is a waterfront urban resort overlooking the backwaters of Vembanad Lake.

After a smooth check-in and registrations, the delegates reassembled for start of conference. 

It all started with traditional lighting of the lamp.

Welcome address by Kuldeep Goel President LMAI followed next.

Pankaj Bhardwaj Senior Director and General Manager Avery Dennison delivered the thought-provoking keynote address, setting the tone of the conference. Pankaj, while referring to the growing Indian market mentioned, “Diminishing divide between urban-rural population in India and an aspiring middle class means a growing demand of consumer products and also label”.

Due to a delayed flight, special guest Lisa Milburn Managing Director Labelexpo Group UK could not reach in time to deliver her address and in her absence, Pradeep Saroha country manager Labelexpo spoke to update the audience about the forthcoming Labelexpo Europe in Brussels, it being the 40th anniversary of Labelexpo additional features included will be on sustainability, flexible packaging, digital printing and a host of other technologies.

Manish Desai Conference chairman spoke on the flow of events at the conference.

Shahidi Ainain Director SIES School of packaging who was moderator for the event gave the guidelines to be followed while making presentations and advised speakers on the need for time management.

The audience dispersed to re-assemble again later for welcome dinner with Thallaavia theme.

L to R: Ajay Mehta, Amit Sheth, Dinesh Mahajan, Raveendran, Harveer Sahni
Pankaj Bhardway-Avery, Kuldip Goel, Rajesh Nema, Sandeep Zaveri,
Vivek Kapoor, Ramesh Deshpande and Amar Chhajed

The conference being held in Kerala, it was an imperative to give it a local theme on the very first evening. All the Board of Directors of LMAI and Committee members dressed up in the local Malayali traditional dress, giving the evening a local celebratory touch. After felicitation of sponsors by committee members and their walk on the ramp there was Carnatic band playing, networking and dinner.

A surprise announcement was made for bestowing upon Amit Sheth of Label Planet and Intergraphic a lifetime award for contribution to the Indian Label Industry! After an emotional thank you speech, Amit walked the ramp with wife Rupa and their two daughters.

Next day after breakfast the audience reassembled for a busy day full of presentations by eminent sponsors and of very high standards. Past President Vivek Kapoor’s welcome address was followed by presentation by Manoj KM and Parag Bagade of Avery Dennison. While Manoj spoke on futuristic labelstock offerings, Parag spoke on the sustainability endeavours by Avery including collection and recycling of liner and self-adhesive waste.

Presentations made were as follows;
Avery Dennison India, Manoj KM and Parag Bagade, “Emerging Technology & Sustainability”Pulisi Technology, Olive Liu, “Relationship between Technology and Life”SMI Coated Products: Ajay Mehta and Rohit Mehta, “Technical Aspects of Applications of Label Stock Solutions”Domino Printech India: David Ellen, “Advantages of HYBRID systems for labels and Packaging converters”Vinsak India: Ranesh Bajaj, “Future Based Solutions”Retail Solution and Technologies: T. R. Ravishankar, “Trends in Barcoding and Enterprise Mobility”WEIGANG: Spring Xu, “Features enhancing to choose a good flexo machine”Luster LightTech Group: Carrie Duan, “Mining your potential”Nilpeter India: Manish Kapoor, Indian Label Indusrty – “The question of Scale and Scalability”Insight Print Communications: Ajay Aggarwal, “Transition to Digital – Now and for Future”Loparex: Manish Jain, “Future Sustainability”Heidelberg and Gallus: Samir Patkar, “The Power of 2 – when conventional meets digital (hybrid technology)”DuPont Advanced Printing: Shyamal Desai, “End user benefits”Flint Group India: Shailesh Kumar Sharma, “New Gen Color Management”HP India Sales: Appadurai, “Future is Now”BOBST Firenze SRL: Ludovico Frati, “Connectivity”Dragon Foils – Inter Films India: Raymond Lu, “Innovation and frontier of cold foil technology”

Two interactive and knowledge imparting Panel Discussions moderated by LMAI Board member Harveer Sahni of Weldon Celloplast were held after lunch. The first one was with printers where the topic was, “Creating the future vs embracing the future”.

Panelists included Priyata Raghavan Sai Security Printers, Tejas Tanna of Printmann, Aaditya Kashyap of Marksfine, Mahendra Shah of Renault Paper, Shakti Jain of Great Eastern IDTech, Yudhviram Solanki of Sicon Packs and Anurag Mohan of Interact.

The second Panel discussion was with industry suppliers as panelists and titled, “Evolving trends in Labels manufacturing!” Eminent suppliers who were in the panel and gave thought provoking inputs included;

Bhupinder Singh of Avery Dennison, Samir Patkar of Heidelberg Gallus, Appa Durai of HP, Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak, Pawandeep Sahni of Omet, Manish Kapoor of Nilpeter, Prasenjit Das of Dupont and Sreenivas Goud of Flint. Time being a constraint the audience wished there was more time for these engaging discussions but since the schedule for the conference was so packed that there was no room for extension

After the day’s presentations ended, there was an excellent talk sponsored by SMI and Pulisi on “Secrets of Impactful Success” by motivational Guru, Gaur Gopal Das which left a full packed hall of almost 600 people spellbound and in awe of what he delivered. 

The evening ended with yet another program sponsored by SMI and Pulisi, a musical performance by the visually impaired performers from the National Organisation of Disabled Artists. They sang old Bollywood songs so well that it left the audience full of awe and at that moment, compassion turned into joy, watching their special abilities to deliver so well to a large audience.

The label printing fraternity was up on its feet and on to the dance floor enjoying the renderings of this awesome group. Towards the end, the President LMAI on behalf of his team announced an additional sum of Rupees one lakh over and above what they had contracted for.

This was followed by many in the audience committing large sums to support the social cause of encouraging disabled artists.

On the final day after a welcome address more presentations as mentioned below followed;

Apex Asia Pacific: Carl Brock, “Nothing short of revolution in flexographic printing”Flexo Image Graphics: Ian Pollock, “Future of Printing Technology”ROGLER International Sàrl: Hannes Rogler, “Future based solution”Multitec Aids: Amit Ahuja, “Life beyond labels”RotoMetrics: Cain Harper, “It’s about more than the die”Brotech Digital Graphics: Ramon Lee, “The future of hybrid printing and finishing”GEW: Marcus Greenbrook, “Upcoming Technology”Numex Blocks: Supachai Theravithayangkura, “Innovative Flexo Plate Solutions for Narrow Web Printing”JN Arora presentation

A panel discussion jointly hosted and moderated by Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated papers and Amit Sheth of Pulisi Technology was conducted with young panelists that included Hemanth Paruchuri of Pragati Pack, Vidur Agarwal of Veekay Industries,

Krishh Chhatwal of Kwality Offset, Denver Annunvciation of Janus International and Naveen Goel of Any Graphics titled “Young printer’s perception on future of label industry”

After the presentations concluded that afternoon it was time for a “Sadhya” typical of that area. Sadhya in local language Malyalam is a feast of Hindu origin and of importance to Hindu Malayalis, consisting of a variety of traditional vegetarian dishes usually served on a banana leaf in KeralaIndia.

Sadhya means banquet in Malayalam. It is a vegetarian feast prepared by both men and women, especially when needed in large quantities, for weddings and other special events. Sadhya is typically served as a traditional dish for Onam, the state festival of Kerala. It was a feast for the eyes to see, a diverse gathering Indians and foreigners relishing the local cuisine and eating with bare hands.

Past president Sandeep Zaveri updated the audience about the next program of Round tables, the interaction between sponsors and Printers.

“Round tables” program with all sponsors attending to a rotating groups of label printers was a much-appreciated part of this conference. 

It gave the sponsors opportunity to interact with existing and prospective customers. This program was highly appreciated by the sponsors.

The final evening sponsored by Avery Dennison was themed “The Great Gatsby!”. 

American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. Fitzgerald—inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island’s North Shore—began planning the novel in 1923,

desiring to produce, in his words, “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” In the novel the character Gatsby throws very extravagant, excessive parties with hundreds of guests, all for the purpose to attract a lady’s attention. The evening had the settings of the 1920s.

The evening began with a vote of thanks by LMAI treasurer Dinesh Mahajan of Prakash Labels.

It was then time for SMI Managing Director Ajay Mehta’s talented daughter Nikita Mehta who trained in the USA and is all set to go professional in the Indian singing arena, to go on stage and give a melodious heartwarming singing performance.

Finally, while people enjoyed photo ops and networking over drinks.

Bollywood singer Nakash Aziz took the stage while the LMAI conference delegates hit the dance floor and enjoyed the fun until late in the night.

Credit goes to Hemal Bhagwat who heads the event management company Mercury Integrated along with her husband and a dedicated team. “Thank you Hemal for making this a memorable event, memories will linger on till it is time to plan yet another better and bigger LMAI CONFERENCE”

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Magazines are free to reproduce by giving credit to author.

At the last, Indian label industry event, “LMAI  Conference” in 2017 at Jaipur I promised to write the 2nd part of my first article titled  “History of the Indian Label Industry” which I wrote in 2006. It is available in this blog at https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2010/08/history-of-indian-label-industry.html
I have now written the 2nd part. This is brief reporting so I plan to complete a book on the subject with a lot more expanded information in the near future. In a large country with industry spread over such a vast area and a huge population, it is difficult to chronicle all in few words. Being a long article, the part 2 of History of the Indian Label Industry will be posted on my blog in a series of four articles. The first part of series numbered  2A is as below;

The first decade of new millennium was very eventful for the Indian label industry. After 2006 a global economic recession surfaced and kept growing, affecting businesses across the world.

It even impacted many industries in India where we saw companies reducing manpower, which in turn affected spending in all segments of retail. Surprisingly while printers in India as well, were complaining of recessionary trends and difficulty in operations, yet the Indian label industry overall, continued to grow steadily. Capacity enhancement kept on being made, though it was a little reduced. The Indians became indulgent not only as label printers but also as diverse product and equipment suppliers to label printing companies. For the first time an Indian company Precise Graphics, later renamed PGI Technologies in 2005 produced a magnetic cylinder that worked on a label press. Dhiresh Ghosalia led Jesons, manufacturers of emulsion pressure sensitive adhesives for the label industry at their large factory in Daman, expanded and moved northwards in India and setup an additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee. Kaygee Papers was promoted by Pranay Godha in 1997 to produce silicone coated release papers. In 2001 they made a Joint Venture, Kaygee Loparex Pvt. Ltd. with Loparex, a member of UPM group and world’s largest commercial Siliconiser. They continued to grow and became an important part of the Indian label industry in the first decade. In 2015 Loparex assumed 100% of the company and rechristened it as Loparex India Pvt. Ltd. In August 2007 Diehard Dies, based in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, started operations to become an indigenous manufacturer of flexible dies for the printing, packaging and label industry. By middle of 2019 Acme Rolltech a company led by 3 young entrepreneurs Parag Patel, Sandeep Sharma and Parag Koradiya started the first Indian facility manufacturing Ceramic Anilox Rolls. Sandeep, came to the partnership with 15 years of experience having worked with Avery Dennison, Kurz India and Domino Printech, Parag Patel and Parag Koradiya came from entrepreneurial background of manufacturing Gravure Cylinders. 

In 2007 the largest indigenous labelstock producer Ajay Mehta’s SMI Coated Products initiated an expansion program that would eventually place SMI as an undisputed leader in labelstock production by a wholly Indian owned company, not only in India but also in many international markets.

They procured a 6540 square meter plot in MIDC, Ambernath near Mumbai, constructed 2200 square meter shed, shifted all plant and machinery from Daman to Ambernath, added two silicon coating machines and one Acrylic Coating machine. In 2014 they increased the production area by another 3000 square meters and installed a Hot Melt coating line, following it up by installing yet another hotmelt adhesive coater later.  

In 2017 they purchased the adjoining plot admeasuring 9820 Square meters, constructed 1000 square meters to install Schaeffer moving racks for better handling of an increasing volume of goods in their expanding stores.

In 2019 they completed construction of another 3000 square meters shed and moved all coating machines to new premises along with a new emulsion adhesive coating tandem machine to do inline siliconizing and adhesive coating in a single pass, 1350 mm wide to run at a speed of 150 meters per minute, reaching an installed capacity of 19 million square meters per month. They celebrated their 25 years in grand style by hosting over 200 guests to visit their works besides take part in the celebrations. Other indigenous labelstock manufacturers also grew in their own respective regions. Stayon Papers and Sticon in Hyderabad, Million papers and NG papers in Chennai, Capri Coating Solutions in Mumbai, Shree Arihant, STP Paper, Gj Industries and many more in Delhi were some of the active and visible manufacturers. Some of the earlier leaders in the Labelstock manufacturing segment pulled back or shifted focus in view of depleting margins, intense competition and unviable credit terms.

Indian label press manufacturers transformed in this period to produce label presses that were comparable to international products and made their mark not only in India but internationally as well.

Amit Ahuja led Multitec is the front runner who had exhibited their first modular rotary flexo label press in partnership with Abhay Datta of Datta Press Delhi at the first India Label show in 2002 at Nehru Centre Mumbai. The association of Multitec with Datta came to an end around 2008. Multitec redesigned their label press as a competitive product with all basic features. After renaming the press, “Ecoflex” they relaunched it. Two year hence they launched yet another version of their label press and continued to upgrade their offerings and grow phenomenally. By the end of 2018 they had achieved outstanding success producing label presses from a quality accredited design and a fully integrated manufacturing facility spread over 26,000 square meters. At the time of writing this article their website reports having sold over 300 Label presses to over 25 countries through a team of agents spread across the world. Other Indian press manufacturers who also made their mark are mostly from Faridabad, south of Delhi, the same city as Multitec. They are Alliance Printech, Webtech Engineering, NBG Printographic Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., M Tech Industries, etc. Other than these, Ahmedabad based RK label machines claimed to have sold 150 rotary plus 600 flatbed label presses and Noida based Jandu Engineers had sold about 135 rotary flexo presses. Jandu is also a leading manufacturer of coating and laminating machines and has a large presence amongst local labelstock manufacturers and according to Baldev Singh Jandu, they have till date sold over 150 coaters.

The Indian label market was growing at a steady double-digit growth rate and interest of international label fraternity in India also kept on growing with it. Avery Dennison who had found success in the country had in 2007 invested in land admeasuring 22 acres at Ranjangaon near Pune for expansion.

In 2008 the facility was with a one-meter wide hotmelt coater having capability to run at 500 meters per minute with inline silicon coating, this compared to the first one-meter coater at Gurgaon that could run at 250 meters per minute. The then global CEO and President of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough specially flew in to inaugurate the facility. In 2010 Raj Srinivasan who had established Avery’s foothold in India returned to USA handing over reigns of the Indian operations to Anil Sharma. New wave of professionalism descended in the working of Avery; more expansion followed with installation of a 1.5 meters hot melt coater in 2011 at Pune. In the same year a slitting facility was commissioned in Bangalore in 2011 to serve the southern customers effectively. To help the cause of a limited number of trained press operators in India in face of a growing label press population,  Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre was also set up in Bangalore to train people for becoming press operators, but later in 2018 the centre was moved to Pune, next to their research and development centre. In 2014 an emulsion coater of 1.5meter width was added at the Pune facility. In 2015 Anil Sharma was elevated for bigger responsibilities and handed over charge to his teammate Pankaj Bhardwaj. Amongst international Labelstocks companies UPM Raflatac had established a substantial foothold with their slitting facilities in India while Lintec, Ritrama, flexcon and a few others sold through agents or directly.

Increase in number of visitors to labelexpo Europe in Brussels was a positive indicator of a growing label market in India and the interests of printers to invest in globally acknowledged label presses. In 2005 Weldon Celloplast Ltd. was the lone Indian exhibitor and by 2011 edition of the show, the number of Indian exhibitors had swelled to fourteen, up from four in the previous show in 2009.

At Labelexpo Europe 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 in 2011. The number just went on increasing, there were more Indians then before at successive labelexpos.

In 2007 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels Tarsus announced their acquisition of India Label show, a show that was set up by Anil Arora and his wife Neetu Arora.

The next edition of India Label show 2008 in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was held in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Mumbai and in the middle of a huge recession, yet the show stood its ground proving the strength of growing Indian label market. In 2010 the show was rechristened as Labelexpo India. The show owners Tarsus UK made a strategic alliance with Indian Label association LMAI for the event and to have an awards night and a gala dinner organised by Tarsus at every Labelexpo India. LMAI was to conduct the LMAI label awards which became a regular feature thereafter. In 2009 under the leadership of Vivek Kapoor, the longest serving president of LMAI who completed 3 terms of 2 years each, it was also planned to hold biennial LMAI conference in alternate years, the trend has carried on till date. The first LMAI conference was held in Hotel park Hyatt Goa in 2011 and the event grew to be held again in 2013 at Grand Hyatt Goa and at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra in 2017. 

In 2010 leading global associations came together under the aegis of FINAT and formed the federation of global associations called L8. Later with one more association joining it was renamed L9, the confederation of nine leading international label associations.

The alliance consisted of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America, LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Sandeep Zaveri of Total Prints took over the presidentship of LMAI in 2015 and handed over the charge to Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics in 2017.  At the 2017 conference in Agra 550 delegates attended making it the largest gathering of label printers at a single conference. A proud moment for me at the Agra conference in 2017 came when I was announced as the first and only recipient till then of a lifetime award for support to the Indian Label industry.  

In 2016 Labelexpo was moved to the Expo Mart in Greater Noida outside Delhi, a part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) due to non-availability of dates at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

In 2018 also it was held at the Expo Mart as the venue, Pragati Maidan in Delhi, was under redevelopment. In 2018 for the first time LMAI hosted a very successful L9 meet in India on the sidelines of Labelexpo India.

The evolution of label industry in India has been a continuous process, from the earliest days of screen-printed labels in sheeted format in the 1970s to roll form labels to be converted on very narrow width flatbed Japanese presses and then over to rotary flexographic printing label presses in the early 1990s.

Until the end of 1990s the flexo printing process used water-based inks with hot air drying.

The polymer plate making technology was also evolving. The process was evolving but it had shortcomings. It was faster than the flat bed machines but lacked consistency due to drying and viscosity changing issues. Better prepress and improvements in platemaking technologies brought flexo printing to almost at par in quality to offset printing. This led the rapid growth in flexographic label printing. As demand escalated, investments in equipment also witnessed increase with printers demanding wider presses for increased productivity and reduced wastages. By end of the last century UV curable inks became available and changed the way flexo printing grew. Originally, UV technology was introduced to the world in the 1960s. The drying effect for water-based inks is brought about by evaporation of volatile components. The required energy is supplied via IR-radiation and/or hot air. A loss in the dried coating thickness will appear depending on the amount of the evaporated components. The volatile components must be removed by an extraction. However, in case of the UV inks, the drying effect is due to polymerization, i.e. on cross-linking of long molecular chains. The energy required for cross-linking is supplied via UV radiation. For 100 % solid body systems the thickness of the dry coating corresponds to the thickness of the wet coating. There are no losses due to evaporation. By 2010 new UV inks came with enhanced ink transfer properties as well as faster reactivity to UV curing, meaning speeds over 200 meters/min. were achievable. Towards end of 2009 the conventional UV started to evolve to low power consuming LED UV with longer life lamps that had surfaced internationally, though the system had yet to be widely accepted in India due to non-availability of parts and inks, but it was being investigated and expected to grow substantially in demand or replaced on existing presses.  Some of the international equipment manufacturers had already introduced alternatives such as LED UV and even Electron Beam curing technology as an alternative. From the middle of first decade of 21st century onwards there grew a demand for high end hybrid presses with increased features like automatic registration, multiple printing processes for combination printing and decoration capabilities. As sustainability and environmental concerns became an imperative; waste reduction, and waste management became a necessity when an investment in equipment was being made.End of Part 2A, To be continued…
The remaining parts will be posted in gaps of 7-10 days 
Note: No one is authorised to reproduce, copy or reprint this article until permitted by the author in writing. 
Written by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Fifty years ago, 80% of India lived in villages.
 
People are moving from villages to cities to experience the modern-day city life as they see on TV and internet. 





 
The scenario has transformed over the years. As a result of ongoing urbanisation, the urban population in India has now grown from 19.4% in 1968 to 33.5% in 2017. The shift has a direct impact on the consumption of household goods, as daily needs in city dwelling are obviously different and more than that in villages. More so due to the impact of a growing rate of literacy level which is the percentage of people aged 15 and above who can read and write having increased to over 72% percent from 40.76% in 1981. People in the working age group 15-64 years has escalated to 66.2%, from a level of 55.4% in the last 50 years. In 2017 the median age of the country, which is half of the people to be younger than this age and other half older, was estimated to be 27.9 years. In a country of 1.32 billion people a growing need for household goods or consumer goods also referred to as FMCG or “fast moving consumer goods” means there is an ever-growing huge demand for labels and packaging that are a part of the consumables they buy.

 

According to a report in The Economic Times dated May 01, 2018, consumer products market grew
13.5% in the Financial year 2018, with eight of 10 leading companies posting double-digit value growth, FMCG being the 4th largest segment of the economy. Online sales of consumer goods is also seeing an enormous rise as number of online users is poised to cross 850 million by 2025. According to a report by marketing research firm “eMarketerOnline” retail sales in India are expected to grow by 31% this year to touch $32.70 billion, led by e-commerce players Flipkart, Amazon India and Paytm Mall. Retail market is estimated to reach US$ 1.1 trillion by 2020, up from US$ 672 billion in 2016 further expected to boost revenues of FMCG companies to 104 billion US Dollars. The data herein mentioned indicates a definite, constant and escalating demand for labels and packaging.

 

 

Indian Label industry has been witnessing challenging time since demonetisation of currency and later due to implementation of GST. While these measures may be beneficial for the industry at large, yet they slowed down the trade impacting margins and revenues. With capacity growth already committed by existing label companies who had already placed orders for new equipment and by those entering the segment in this period, slow down impacted adversely the positive sentiment in label industry. The Label printing and converting equipment was being upgraded globally by machine manufacturers to achieve efficiency in production, reducing wastages, producing to economies of scale and was becoming more expensive. An industry that was used to a quicker ROI (Return on Investment) and better margins found the situation challenging, decided to be cautious and held-back investing decisions. While the economic parameters of growth as mentioned in the earlier part of this article were on the move all the time, a pause or back stepping for two years created a gap that has resulted in now a positive situation whereby new investments to increase capacity are being made. However still, label printers are apprehensive that this sudden indulgence may result in over capacity, promote unhealthy competition resulting in lower margins and make servicing of loans a little difficult. Despite this the positive sentiment in the label industry is evident as those who have excelled are committed to expand and maintain their position.

 

 

Change is the only permanent in a growing scenario, also stagnation leads to deterioration so one has to keep improving, innovating and expanding to remain in reckoning in a vibrant colourful industry. The label industry, much to the discomfort of the existing peers of the industry is seeing a lot of investment from the sheetfed offset printers. The sheet offset industry is used to big time investments in equipment and voluminous sales justifying their lower margins with massive turnovers. They were content with ever growing toplines, yet when the bottom lines needed strengthening labels appears to be a solution. While this would not add much to the top line but would surely contribute positively to their bottom lines. In a conspicuous effort to make their balance sheets look more presentable, it seems the offset printing industry is becoming indulgent in labels. It is for this reason we see label exhibition stalwarts Tarsus targeting the offset printers for their upcoming Labelexpo India. This is much to the discomfort of existing label industry constituents as it would add to the intense competition bringing pressure on already depleting margins in terms of percentage.

 

 

The label demand in India continues to grow and investments in label printing and converting equipment is on the rise. Though not much authentic data is available, yet the author based on experience and time spent in the industry has attempted to reach a reasonable size of the market. There are about 1000 label manufacturing companies in India. These include very small and big plain label, barcode label and product label manufacturers both in roll and sheet, spread all over India. The number of machines that each of these companies possess varies from just one machine to multiple machines, in many cases the machines installed are in double digits. On a very modest estimation if I assume an average of just two machines per label company, the total comes to 2500 label converting machines. The number of rotary machines announced in media in the recent past as installed in India over the years till now by leading label suppliers like Mark Andy, Gallus, Nilpeter, Omet, Bobst, Edale, MPS, Weigang, Orthotec, etc. coupled with those supplied by local manufacturers like Multitec 200 machines, RK label 150 rotary plus 600 flatbeds, Jandu 135, Alliance, Webtech and others, is well over 1500. Now if we add the used machines, the intermittent and other flatbed/rotary options, the figure is definitely over 2500. Working backwards for converting capabilities with realistic downtime, the per capita consumption of labelstocks is well beyond 1 square meter.

 

 

Calculating quantities of label stock manufactured from the number of coaters installed with Labelstock manufacturers we have, according to the author’s personal estimation, Avery Dennison is leading the pack and SMI following, together they account for over 40% of the production in India with almost 48 Crore or 480 million square meters per year. According to Jandu Engineers, who have been the main coater laminator supplier to the unorganised sector, they have till date installed 150 adhesive coating lines in the country. While Jandu asserts that his coaters run at 100 meters per minute but for a realistic estimation their speed with down time has been considered at 50 meters per minute. Added to this is the production coming from numerous Hotmelt coaters installed and together with the stock lots used, the total again justifies the 1 square meter per capita usage. Another evaluation done with base consumption that most in the industry had agreed at 0.25 square meter in the year 2003. Applying a year on year growth rate of just 10%, this year we cross the 1 square meter per capita usage. The estimation is the author’s personal estimation only, many of the industry peers may not agree with the author’s estimation yet it appears that we have come a long way in the last 20 years. The self-adhesive label production and consumption in India all including roll, sheet, stock lots etc. this year seems to have reached a whopping 1.30 billion square meters!!!

 

 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India September 2018