Narinder Chhatwal hailed from a family of traders in Lyallpur, a city which is now in Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. Lyallpur was named after the founder of the city the then Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, Sir James Lyall, for his role in establishing the canal colonisation project. In 1977 the Government of Pakistan changed the name of the city from Lyallpur to Faisalabad (‘City of Faisal’) in honour of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who made several financial contributions to Pakistan. Faisalabad is the third-most-populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore, respectively. It was in the turbulent times of 1947 during the division of India into India and Pakistan, that the Chhatwals migrated to New Delhi. After completing his schooling, Narinder Chhatwal took up a job in the iconic Kwality Restaurant in coveted location, New Delhi’s Connaught Place, a venture set up in 1940 by P L Lamba and his brother-in-law I K Ghei who grew it as a multilocation restaurant chain. Narinder worked there until 1961. There was a strong urge to have his own business, so he set up a unit to produce ice cream cups but as situation warranted then, he left this venture and rejoined Kwality Restaurant yet again in 1964. Despite the stable job, the entrepreneur in him was restless and the urge to set up his own production unit re-surfaced and he finally quit the job permanently to start a printing unit nostalgically named Kwality Carton Manufacturing Company, in a single room rented at Kirti Nagar, New Delhi in 1966-67 using the manually fed treadle letterpress printing machine. He manufactured Ice cream cups, lids, cartons for Ice cream bricks and in fact a host of printed packaging items. In 1971 he could get an allotment for an industrial plot from government at Naraina Industrial Area and he moved the unit to this location where from, they operate to this date.

 
A little over a year after moving into their Naraina factory they bought their first offset printing press, a 712 single colour Dominant, a year later they bought another similar press and followed it up with a 714 Dominant. Falling short of space, the adjoining building was available, so they bought it as they were growing. In 1982-83, expanding further they acquired a two colour Planeta. Once into offset printing, Kwality was in expansion mode, they were adding equipment every alternate year. At this time, they renamed the company as Kwality Offset Printers. In 1986 Narinder Chhatwal’s son Rajeev an 18-year-old had joined business. Rajeev did his initial Schooling at Springdales School Delhi followed with graduation from Delhi University. The post partition Punjabi families who left all that they had, back in what had become Pakistan were hard working and were quick to start from scratch to regain their stature by sheer hard work. The second generation were all following their father’s footsteps and would be helping their parents in the work, spending time after school or college on the shopfloors of their startup units. For them, the shop floors became the training ground, and they learnt the nuances of business hands on. Rajeev was no different, with a  father like Narinder mentoring him and passing on the experience to his son who was a quick learner, he settled down in the business quickly. He however did go for a short training program at Heidelberg Germany. With his joining in, the business accelerated and soon the space in their Naraina factory was again falling short. In 1988, they bought out yet another next-door unit to make room for more production space so now the factory is operating from three adjacent plots. The same year they bought their first four colour offset press a secondhand Roland. Expansion became a routine process. They believed and were convinced that as far as possible it is better to operate from a unified single location in one city. This way the management which was Narinder Chhatwal, and his son Rajeev Chhatwal were not split and would remain a support to each other.

 

 

Until 1995 Kwality offset was producing Cartons, some commercial printed items and wet glue labels. In 1995-96 they decided to become a hundred percent label manufacturing unit which was only wet glue labels. The story of their entry into wet glue labels is interesting. In the early 1990s when the number of breweries started to grow and bottling speeds were on the rise. To label bottles at 250 bottles per minute, the labels needed to be perfectly die punched and stacked to run on highspeed lines. The normal flatbed dies would not work well. Kwality, because of their experience in ice cream cups and lids production were well versed in ram die punching and their workers were well trained in the process. Their manufactured labels ran extremely well on the high-speed labelling machines at breweries and distilleries and soon the word spread of their capabilities. This helped them get the orders from many other breweries and liquor producing companies. It was just a matter of time that they became the largest suppliers of wet glue labels in north India, though they were supplying pan national. It is interesting to note that normally people print and then get into label finishing equipment, here because of their knowledge of finishing the ice cream cup lids by hydraulic ram punching got them into high end big volume label printing. Their first customer for beer labelling was a government owned Haryana breweries at Sonepat making a popular brand of beer those days “Rosy Pelican.” Their success in making the perfectly die-punched wet glue labels also got them their first break in corporate world with orders from the multinational brand owner Nestle.

 

 

It was in the year 2000 when self-adhesive labels were gaining in popularity, the Chhatwals invested in a Mark Andy 2200  narrow web label press and in the following year, they also increased their investment in sheetfed offset by installing a six colour Heidelberg press. In 2002 they installed another sheetfed offset a five colour Roland with UV and online coater. Hereon, expansion became an ongoing process, they added three Mark Andy presses, a Gallus and a Xeikon in 2018 to make their entry into digitally printed labels with an ABG Digicon series 3 finishing and embellishing machine, which also has hot foil stamping , embossing and screen-printing capabilities. These investments enabled them to add multiple security features on labels. Increasing their footprint in flexo they also set up inhouse platemaking with Kodak Flexcel. Rajeev’s father Narinder Chhatwal passed away in 2008 until when, he was still attending business, though the reins had been passed on to his son Rajeev.

 

 

Rajeev’s other siblings include a younger brother who is into real estate and a sister who is a homemaker. His wife Shalini is also a home maker. His son Krish completed his business management from Sydney and joined business at Kwality offset four years ago. Two of those initial years were passed in facing the pandemic and last year in 2021 he got married. Krish’s wife Sanya, an expert in baking, after completing a course from APCA Malaysia, is running her own business, a bakery named Delhi’ce in Gurgaon making specialty cakes. Rajeev’s daughter recently completed her study in architecture and is now pursuing her career as an architect.

 

 

Having put in place a full-fledged team to manage all production, Rajeev, and son Krish personally look after sales and marketing. While Krish looks after all new customers, Rajeev manages and caters to, and successfully retains all old customers. The present spread of business is with three flexo presses, one digital label press Xeikon, Abg digicon, one Roland and one Heidelberg sheet offset press in a shopfloor admeasuring approximately 60,000 square feet. Total workforce is 130 persons all in one location at Naraina Industrial Area New Delhi. With no more space left for expansion at present location, they have bought a 2200 square yard plot at Manesar south of New Delhi for another factory to fuel their further expansion. When asked about future plans, Rajeev expresses that they are not really concerned about just volumes, they are more oriented to implement better and innovative technology and be profitable to grow the bottom line instead of focusing on bigger turnovers. Kwality has been growing at about 10 percent per annum and they are committed to maintain the growth rate. Conscious about the environment they have tied up with approved and certified waste management agencies as also cooperating with Avery Dennison on their waste management endeavours. They even try and source most of their paper materials from FSC certified vendors. Despite the aftereffects of pandemic, the father-son team are committed and firm to keep the expansion and investment in new technologies an ongoing process. Their resolve years ago to give-up cartons and other commercial printing to stay with 100% manufacturing of labels is unique in today’s situation. These days offset printers do integrate forward to produce labels and vice-versa label printers, in an effort to grow turnovers, expand into print packaging. They wish to remain specialty label printers, investing into innovation.

 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi March 2022

PS: Printing Magazine may publish this article giving credit to author Harveer Sahni and Blog https://harveersahni.blogspot.com  

In a largely populated country India, the normal of growth of population itself, translates into large volume growth in demand. For label industry growth in India estimates have been made at 7-15%. Even if we assume a 10% growth, market will probably grow by 100 million square meters adding a whopping 2500 million Rupees or about 38 million US Dollars to the existing market size. One is left wondering that with demand growth in double digits, why is then the label industry, facing intense competition and stressed margins? One simple conclusion can be that in a growing economy with government encouraging new industrial investments and banks ready to finance, people start looking for areas that have stable growth over the years, labels do move into their focus. Packaging industry in an effort to offer a complete bouquet of packaging products, keeps on adding labels in their manufacturing program. The capacity seems to be growing a little faster than demand. This leads to a situation whereby to service their debt and stay afloat, printers flock toward leading brand owners who pitch sellers against one another to get lower prices. There are other reasons like increasing raw material prices, reverse auctions and short runs which bring further pressure on margins. In such a situation it becomes imperative, that to achieve a better bottom line, there is need for “creating innovations in labels”. Many label companies in India have already moved into this direction by investing to enhance capabilities to create products that do not fall into the commodity or simple label range. Even brand owners who are in a race to catch the consumer’s eye while shopping, are on the lookout for such labels that make their premium products on the shop shelves being picked up faster.  They are willing to pay higher if the label has unique features escalating their brand image. Some of the printers who have moved in this direction are listed below with details of their moves to create labels that are different.
Gautham Pai

Gautham Pai lead Manipal Technologies, is a multi product and multi location company that has made substantial investments in label manufacturing. Though they have units located in India and abroad, a tour of their facilities in Manipal leaves one in awe of what they have achieved. The company has integrated backward and forward with investment in extremely diverse technologies enhancing capabilities to innovate. As for labels, they produce their own holograms, security labels, security envelopes, etc. They also produce their own self adhesive labelstocks on a Nordson hotmelt coater. 
 
 
 

Recent developments include; Electroluminescence Label: This is an eye-catching and low power consuming optical lighting system developed in-house with strong competency on printed electronics. It works best for promotional activities with various activation options using any of the touch sensitive, pressure sensitive, motion sensitive sensors. This can be adopted for both labels as well as carton packaging.
 
Glow in the Dark: The Glow-in-the-dark feature will completely transform packaging by hiding messages, creating a nightclub atmosphere, or an element of surprise.
 
 
 

 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kuldip Goel
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics Noida has repeatedly proven the need to invest time and money in creating innovations. Though he has always wanted to produce the best, stressing on aesthetics yet it was in the start of new millennium that he realized the pressing need to strengthen capabilities to produce labels that were not commodity labels done on one simple flexo press but those with added value by indulging in creativity. Anygraphics have to their credit the world label awards, Fespa awards, only Indian company to have been nominated for Global Label award for innovation, winning Printweek label printer of the year award for five consecutive years in a row, special Printweek Jury award for innovation and many LMAI label awards. 
 
 
 
 
Label created by Any Graphics
 
 
Anygraphics creates innovative labels and packaging using multiple equipment and processes for the same product employing technologies like Screen Printing, Foiling, Embossing, Doming, Narrow web Letterpress printing, Narrow web Flexo printing, Offset printing and Digital printing.
 
 
 
 
Booklet Label by Unick-Fix-A
-Form
Hemen Vasa’s Unick Fix-A-Form was set up in 1985-1986, in rented premises with one small machine (Semi automatic model) for making Booklet/Leaflet labels in Ahmedabad. In the initial years they outsourced printing.  They convinced Bayer-India to be their first customer for their Innovative leaflet labels made by using wet glue, developed for manual application on containers of agrochemical bottles. In 1992 another customer came for these labels in self adhesive format. Since pressure sensitive products were in a nascent stage that time and locally made silicone release paper was not consistent creating problem of label dispensing from applicator, Unick started import of Self Adhesive Paper.  Being the only manufacturer of booklet/leaflet labels those days, their business grew profitably and they expanded by moving into own premises and installing high-end rotary label presses, booklet making equipment and offset press. Their business has expanded to the pharmaceuticals segment with a range of offerings that include Cartons, Labels, in mould labels, Shrink Sleeves, etc. They have won many awards at home and abroad. Their supremacy in innovative leaflet-booklet labels segment has been the main reason for their success and expansion!
 
Pragati Pack (India) Pvt. Ltd., being one of the most awarded printers in the country is hesitant to share their work and endeavours in creating innovations. However still, Hemanth Paruchuri says, they try to bring innovation in labels by investing in the right equipment and pushing the limits of that equipment. Their knowledge and experience gained in the carton, commercial printing areas aids their efforts. The aim is to create innovations that are unique and have a high shelf appeal.
 
U K Gupta, Managing Director of India’s largest Hologram manufacturing company and specialty label manufacturer Holostik India Ltd. says, “Innovation is the key to drive any industry in the ever-changing dynamic world, anything that does not keep changing, ultimately loses track and is out of the race.” He has mentored his team to understand that ‘Change is the only constant’ and therefore they have to innovate with their products. Extraordinary labels, that are not just visually appealing but also render security to the product are now a necessity in view of the fact that security feature of labels cannot be ignored due to the tremendous growth of the counterfeiting business. Holostik has on an ongoing basis been making significant investments to enhance their capabilities.
 
Anil Namugade at Trigon Digital Solutions says, “Innovation is a continuous process.”  They are passionate, entrepreneurial, collaborative and creative to always deliver on their commitments. Trigon Digital established in 2007 has production facilities in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Dubai and an office in Singapore offering services in Pre-press, Print Packaging, Color management and serving over 350 brands including 20 out of top 100 global brands in 12 countries.  They provide packaging mockups on actual substrates with finishes like foiling, embossing, varnishing, lamination etc. for cartons pouches, shrink sleeves, lamitubes and labels. They specialize in Print on Demand, small and medium quantities for shrinks sleeves and Labels with personalization and variable data printing. With an ongoing innovation developing vision they aspire to be the best in the innovative label and packaging business.
 
Anuj Bhargava of Kumar Labels belonging to an extended family of label printers, is excited that his company has been recipient of many label awards in recent times including Printweek label printer of year award 2017. His team is trained to look at the product, its target audience, its selling price bracket and the brand’s desired perception that it wants to create amongst its customers, before proposing a label solution. For them innovation is not just increasing price of a label or adding shots of foil or screen inks. Different brands need different innovations. A mass market brand needs a re-engineered cost effective label stock with which it can reduce its decoration costs. A brand from the same customer, which may be targeted for the upper market segment, may need multiple foils and textured stocks. So no one formula works for all. By utilizing their expertise in print process, machine manufacturing and label stock making, Kumar Labels is able to offer different innovations. They produce their own specialized labelstocks that include textured and unique substrates normally not available.
 
It is evident that to drive in better margins, capabilities in print and decoration need to be substantially enhanced by making the correct and timely investments. Earlier only a reasonably designed and printed label was enough. Now with growing, knowledgeable, and well informed consumers one needs to study the demand perception and design the label to appeal and communicate with the end consumer in a short while that he or she is in front of the shop shelf. Pre-press is extremely important process to draw out the creativity that the design tends to deliver. Selecting the right substrate, the adhesive and shape of the label is another imperative. The label has to last the life of the consumer product as it remains visible until all of its lifespan and keeps delivering value to the brand by its aesthetic appearance. Finally it is the Press that will not only do full justice to the print but also decorate, inspect and finish the label with speed; ease of use and with least waste generation. Productivity and managing production waste are other imperatives that affect the profitability. Brand owners attempt buying at the lowest prices for their established products, however the fact still remains that to stay ahead of competition in getting the consumer attention, they need to dress up their products well. With numerous options available in an already crowded shelf space, brand owners will only consider higher prices if a label promotes their sales. To reach a win-win situation for suppliers and brand owners, printers need to invest in “Creating Innovations in Labels”!
 
Written exclusively for Narrow Web Tech, Germany by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India December 2017. 

The above article is restricted for reproduction without permission from the author or Narrow Web Tech, Germany
 

Converting process:

 

Designing a label is a designer’s job, passion and creative indulgence, but converting it into a label that will deliver the envisaged results of communicating with the consumer, is the job of a label converter.  If, as I mentioned in the earlier two parts of this series, the designer has taken care of the converters capabilities and challenges, the result is close to being as desired. However, if at the designing stage the eventual converting process is not revisited, converting may become a nightmare and may call for more time and involvement to make changes in design. Let us consider a label that is not one of the regular shapes like a square, a rectangle or a circle. If it is a like a star or an odd shape with sharp corners, it will be a challenge to die cut the labels slowing down label conversion, bringing up the cost of label. In such a situation label dispensing may also become erratic. Such label presses are now available with many label printers that die-cut and remove waste matrix of  complex shaped labels while converting but then these options are not available with all venders. The designers need to consider ease of conversion and dispensing. Sometimes designers tend to create labels in the shape of objects like a flower, a dumbbell, a butterfly, a bird or even like a falling drop. These shapes will either be difficult to die cut and will substantially slow down the label press during conversion. I am not suggesting that such shapes should not be indulged in, but on the contrary if the product and its marketing warrant’s it so and can support a higher conversion cost, it may even become a necessity to create such complex labels. At times when it is an innovation being created to reach out to a specific customer segment, the challenges in conversion and speed must take a back seat. Die-cutting in label conversion in-itself is a very exhaustive topic and an intricate technology which is beyond the purview of this article as we are dealing with the life of a label from concept, design, and conversion to its final resting on the product and its performance there from.

 

Brand Promotion:

 

Any brand from inception onwards, in its journey to success keeps gaining value as it reaches out to the product’s targeted audience. Label is one part of the package that contributes towards the brand promotion from the word go! The aesthetics and the decoration part have been dwelled upon earlier in this series, yet a very important part of the label is brand promotion. While the aesthetics and decoration of the label tempts the consumer, to impulsively lift the product off the shop shelf but it is the brand promotion in-built into the label that will bring the customers back to make a repeat purchase. A product may have been created with lot of skill and effort to be the best buy for the discerning consumer. Its commercial success will depend not only on repeated purchase by the impulsively indulgent buyer but by his spreading the message by word-of-mouth to others about the product. The information on the label should communicate the strength and reliability of the manufacturer. The label should deliver a message that the brand is “value for money” bringing appreciation from the judicious buyer who inadvertently becomes the brand’s ambassador. It is easy to mimic successful brands, but one must realize that the learned and well-informed consumer is quick to recognize a copy. I refer to this issue of duplication later in this article. The label needs to communicate the research and effort being put into creating the product to meet the emotional and aspirational requirements of the users. The label and eventually the product itself must communicate that it will add to the stature of the user. The message on label in the shortest form, given the limited space, is required to be conveyed emphatically and should be very strong and bold in branding! The content on the label is necessarily required to create an aura promoting brand recall. One must be mindful of the preferences and sensitivities of the target audience that could be children, young people, males, females or the elderly. The brand promotion capabilities of the label will create a communication link between the product and its consumer thereby establishing a channel for successful sale of the product on an ongoing basis. Often sales promotion is also incorporated in the label like free extra quantity or freebies with each purchase but here a word of caution is to be remembered, one should not confuse brand promotion with sales promotion. Brand promotion is a priority for building stature and value of a brand in the customers mind while sales promotion is a temporary step to give intermittent boost to sales. While brand promotion brings long term gains, sales promotion gives shorter gain.

 

Brand Protection:

 

As brands attain popularity and grow driving-in more revenue, another set of people wanting to make quick money by cashing in on the value of these brands, start to create look-alikes, duplicates and counterfeits. The innocent user falls prey to such unscrupulous elements by buying these non-standard products. They are exposed to dangers of being harmed by usage of such spurious products. Consumer is unable to judge whether the product is duplicate or the original product sold by the brand owner is of inferior quality. The brand is likely to suffer in value and reliability for no fault of theirs. The menace of counterfeits has attained gigantic proportions. According to a report by “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)”, Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has risen steadily in the last few years – even as overall trade volumes stagnated – and now stands at 3.3% of global trade, according to a new report by the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office. Trends in Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide based on 2016 customs seizure data at USD 509 billion, up from USD 461 billion in 2013 (2.5% of world trade). 

 

 

It has become an imperative to incorporate security features in labels and packages, as a part of brand protection keeping in mind that all brand protection features need to facilitate brand authentication as well. What good is a security feature if the user cannot verify its authenticity?  Holograms have been used for quite some time and they have a high level of security in them but in recent time holographic labels without security features but resembling the original holograms have made it difficult for the consumers to differentiate between the original and fakes. The topic of security is large and needs to be dwelled upon separately, however still I emphasize that security features need to be considered while designing labels for leading brands. These may be tamper-evident labels, labels with micro texting, thermo chromic inks, invisible inks, holograms and labels with special printing effects that help in brand protection. Building-in security or anti-counterfeiting features in labels and the packages is an exercise that needs to be revisited by brand owners and by label designers from time to time. If the label security features have not been reviewed for long, it is possible that the counterfeiters will develop something resembling it. It is a known fact when referring duplicators, “If someone can make it, there is someone who can fake it”

 

Innovation:

Consumer is the king! It is a famous quote, I would modify it a little and say, Consumer is the king maker!” If consumers approve of a product, it could deliver fortunes to the brand owners. So, to reach out to these king makers, the brand owner must innovate both in the package and label design. One sometimes wonders what innovation one can create in a label. A small patch of label that carries the brand and its information, can be decorated as mentioned earlier in this series with foiling, embossing, varnishing, lamination and die-cutting in various shape. However, in an effort to catch the consumers fancy, labels must have innovations as per the label segment they cater to. A food product label is created with a natural effect where you can see and feel the texture of the label. Portraying freshness, a leaf or a flower may be created to exhibit water droplets that one can touch and feel. These are accomplished by using diverse printing and processing technologies on their combination presses. Development of such labels is the outcome of creative capabilities of innovative label printing companies. I quote some of the innovations that I have seen in recent times;

 


Consider a wine label; Wine enthusiasts like to know about the wine before indulging in it. They wish to know the quality of grapes used for making that wine, the region and the terrain where the grapes came from. The label is made like a book to be read! One cannot put all this information on a single label, so labels are produced like a small booklet affixed to the wine bottle.

 

 

 

The hazards of using infected syringes, has been highlighted for long to curtail the spread of infection. There is an imperative need to dispose-off the used needles safely. I visited the Schreiner facility in Munich Germany, some time ago and was shown labels where after use the needle is broken on to a plastic trap which forms a part of the label on disposable syringe. These traps are then sent for safe treatment and disposal.

 

 

 

 


Another interesting example is a label created for the Heinz tomato ketchup pack. On one side if you open the pack, ketchup can be squeezed out like it is done from a regular bottle. However, if there is need to use the ketchup as dip, one can peel off the entire label by pulling the tab on another end to expose the ketchup and get a feel as if it was in a bowl.

 

 


Other innovations are like a safety temperature indicating label on cooking gas cylinders that would change colours to indicate safe temperatures or Braille labels on wine bottles for the physically challenged blind who also like normal people enjoy their wine and will like to read the information as wine lovers.

 

Summary

Label printing and converting technologies continue to evolve and I have written about the different processes on my blog where a lot of information is available. The printing that initially surfaced as letter press, moved over to flexographic printing followed by stand alone or hybrid presses incorporating combination of flexo, digital, screen, offset Rotogravure printing and diverse embellishing process like hot-foil, cold-foil, UV varnish, embossing, debossing, front and back printing all done in a single pass. The packaging development specialists now need to be well versed with all the technologies and processes. In this three-part series, one can see the journey of the label from concept to its life on the product after application. It goes through a technical life cycle interacting with diverse technologies from design, to printing, conversion, dispensing and life thereafter. Each of the technologies that the label encounters in its life cycle including the chemical, mechanical and physical properties is a science it itself. Before concluding we must keep in mind the end-of-life waste management while creating a label or package. The whole chain of persons who contribute to the life of a label are a team who eventually rejoice in the success of a product that adorns a label they created.

The complete 3 part series are accessible at the following links;

https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-life-of-label-i.html

http://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-life-of-label-ii.html

https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2022/02/life-of-label-iii.html

 

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 India, January 2015 and updated in February 2022