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  

 

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.

The narrow web label industry is a smaller segment of the larger diverse printing and packaging industry. It remains in focus for being the face of all products and an imperative identity providing part of any package. It is estimated by many that the Printing industry in India is growing at over 12% per annum. Some segments get slower and there are others like packaging are growing at a faster pace of 17% to compensate the shortfall by registering better growth. The label industry has been growing in a very wide band between 10 and 25%, the growth has always been in double digits. While Offset is the largest segment of the printing technologies employed yet the past 2-3 decades have seen growth in adoption of other printing processes like flexography, Roto

In recent times the convenience of “just in time computer to print capabilities” has resulted in adoption of digital printing by many printers such that the segment is registering robust growth of 30%. The narrow web label industry that is largely employing flexographic printing has been conservative and hesitant in adopting digital printing for labels because of higher investment in capital equipment, expensive inks and costly printheads needing replacements resulting in costlier labels in comparison to those produced on their existing equipment. The return on investment appeared to be unattractive. It was just a matter of time that the growth of digital printing of labels in India would start to attract investment. Finat, the European label Association with global membership had reported a couple of years ago that European investments in digital presses for labels in a year had exceeded that in flexo presses. We now see an evident interest and indulgence in this digital label printing technology by Indian printers as well.

Recognising the need for knowledge and understanding  digital printing technologies since label printing and converting is in an evolutionary phase of adopting digital printing, while still growing with analogue, LMAI-The Label Manufacturers Association of India organized a program titled “DIGITAL PRINTING IN LABELS – THE WAY FORWARD” for the benefit of its members only. The program took place at ITC Welcome Hotel, Chennai on the 20th of December 2019. Unlike the other printing processes digital printing has largely four different tangents; Dry toner printing, Liquid toner printing, UV Inkjet printing and water-based Inkjet printing. To deliver the knowledge, leading companies came forward to sponsor the event as also to make very interesting presentations. The following speakers from their respective sponsoring companies made presentations;
 
  • Dry Toner Digital: Xeikon. Presenter; Vikram Saxena, Sales General Manager Xeikon India (Part of Flint Group)
  •   Liquid Toner Digital: HP. Presenter; Ashok Pahwa, Sales Manager-Indigo & Inkjet Solutions (HP India Sales Pvt Ltd).
  •   UV Inkjet Digital: Domino. Presenter- Ajay RaoRane, Asst. Vice President-Digital Printing Solutions. at Domino Printech India LLP
  •   Water Based Digital: Astronova Inc. Presenter-Goutham Reddy, Regional Sales Manager
  • Non-speaking support Sponsors: Avery Dennison and Durst Phototechnik AG
After welcoming more than eighty delegates present and after felicitating the sponsors, LMAI Secretary Rajesh Nema handed over the moderation to Harveer Sahni member LMAI Board of Directors.
 

Sahni updated the audience on the journey traversed by the label printing industry in India. Starting from the first self-adhesive label made by screen printing process in 1965, he covered many landmarks in the evolution that included the first flat-bed very narrow web Japanese label presses to produce labels in roll form in 1972, rotary label converting in 1982, flexographic label printing in 1993, adoption and development of UV flexo from 1997 onwards, setting up of LMAI in 2002 and the first installation of digital label presses toward end of the decade of 2000.

All the speakers gave important insights in the technologies offered by them and emphasized the need and importance of short runs, personalization and variable data on labels and for that how Digital Printing capabilities are fast becoming a necessity.

Goutham Reddy from Astronova explained the cost effectiveness of water-based process and also dwelled on their offering equipment to print on finished packages, 

Ajay Rao Rane of Domino highlighted the strength of UV inkjet and achieving a higher colour gamut besides printing opaque UV white that is needed for transparent films, 

Ashok Pahwa demonstrated the success they achieved in personalization of leading brand of beverages giving another dimension to retail marketing of fast moving consumer products and finally 

Vikram Saxena of Xeikon informed that digital printing was picking up pace with over 32 high-end installations reported in India. He further informed the benefits of dry toner digital printing technology and that it did not require any precoated media.

It was encouraging to note that despite the event being organized in South India many printers travelled from all over India to attend and to learn the nuance of this emerging technology. Some of the printers seen at the event included Gee Kay-Bangalore, Seljeget-Sivakasi, Fairfix-Tirupur, ITC-Chennai, Manipal Technologies-Chennai, Prakash Labels-Noida, Kwality Offset-New Delhi, Pragati Graphics-Indore, Speclabel-Kolkata, Total Print-Mumbai and Zodiac Graphics-Hyderabad.

LMAI founder members Raveendran of Seljegat, Sandeep Zaveri of Total Print, LMAI founder promoter Amit Sheth and Board member Ajay Mehta of SMI were present at this important industry event.

An interactive question answer session was followed by a vote of thanks by Rajeev Chhatwal Vice President of LMAI. The evening ended with networking cocktails and dinner.

On the 22nd of November 2018 at the LMAI Avery Dennison Awards night, held on the side lines of Labelexpo India, the winner announced in digital printing category-Wine and Spirits was Trigon Digital Solutions, Mumbai. Just over a week later, on the 29th of November 2018, Trigon was declared the Printweek India “Digital Printer of the year”. This was Trigon’s fourth award; the first two were Printweek “Pre-press Company of the year” awards won in 2015 and 2017. It is an incredible performance by a company promoted by first generation entrepreneurs just 10 years ago, with no previous experience in running a manufacturing company. They moved into roll form digital printing of labels merely 3 years ago. They have invested in a digital printing press at a time when we are witnessing the evolutionary shift of label production in India from conventional processes to digital. Digital printing is a segment of label industry that leading label manufacturing companies have been extremely hesitant to invest in, due to high cost of equipment and consumables. Anil  Namugade the co-founder, along with partner Milind Deshpande, have promoted Trigon Digital and successfully led it on its digital label journey.

 

After graduating in Economics from Mumbai University Anil Namugade, also a Printing Technologist from the Government Institute of Printing Technology, took up jobs as a scanner operator from 1994 to 1997 in few of the leading pre-press houses in Mumbai. Here he acquired immense knowledge in repro-colour separation and prepress. In 1998 he joined Heidelberg as a software specialist and continued to work there until 2003. Anil joined Kodak as packaging and proofing specialist in 2003. It was a purely technical job where he developed his passion for proofing, learnt the nuances of colour management and the imperative need of good prepress for excellence in final print. During his stint with Kodak he was also handling technical and sales support which helped him gain experience in selling as well. Unfortunately, by 2007 Kodak was seeing a decline in business and as restructuring process was being put in place, he had to exit Kodak. Suddenly that one day he found himself jobless, away from a stable job in an MNC(Multi National Company). He firmly believed in and followed a simple mantra of success and excellence; “Look at problem as an opportunity and learn to grow and excel”. Drawing inspiration from this mantra, he along with partner Milind Deshpande who is also a printing technologist, set up their maiden start-up venture Trigon Digital Solutions. 

 

From past experience and knowledge he had acquired from working in the previous jobs, Anil knew that customers needing packaging, wanted to see how their product would look, before they opted for actual printing and production. He saw the opportunity in this need, so Trigon was set up as a proofing and mock-up producing company. His knowledge of prepress and colour management helped him to achieve his goal. Earlier it used to be the creative agencies that visualised and created a format for packaging, Trigon creating an actual marketable mock up for the companies was a new and welcome development for brand owner companies. The first equipment they invested in was Kodak Approval NX that printed in sheet format and started to take up proofing and mock-up creation for customers. Finding success in their endeavors he soon realised that being closer to the customer is an imperative.  In 2010 Trigon opened a facility in Bangalore and followed it up by setting up a unit in Delhi in 2012. In 2015 they went international by setting shop in Dubai and later an office in Singapore. All the units except the office in Singapore are equipped with Kodak Approval NX.

 

In 2015 they saw the opportunity in customers demanding label mock-ups in roll form, so in their Mumbai facility they invested in an Epson Surepress to produce samples including Flexibles, Laminates and Labels by digital printing in roll form. Moreover, the production on Kodak was turning out to be expensive and limited to sheet format. Soon their customers upgraded from demanding just mock-ups to ordering short runs for their specialised marketing needs.  They also started to see business emanating from the shrink sleeve segment as also a growing demand for other roll form variants. The slow speed of Surepress could not cater to the demand they were getting and also there was a limitation that it could not produce shrink sleeves. At this time in 2017 Trigon decided to take a major step of investing in an HP Indigo 6000 digital press and enhance their capability to produce a larger range of products. A year down the line in 2018 Trigon yet again upgraded their HP Indigo 6000 to HP Indigo 6900 which had enhanced features. On this HP 6900 they could do inline primer coating saving them the time and valuable space, print metallic inks and florescent inks. With a widened customer base and enhanced capabilities they now cater to applications in FMCG, Liquor, Personalised labels, Variable Data labels, QR codes and a lot more. They now produce and sell a range besides labels, offering flexible packaging, complex laminates, lamitubes and shrink sleeves. Anil Namugade firmly believes that digital is the future of printing and innovative packaging. Dwelling on the general apprehension of label printers regarding ROI (Return on Investment), he feels that it becomes better from an expanded vision of providing specialised services to the customer. These services that Trigon offers include brand management, database management including validation, preparing the mock-ups for test marketing before indulging extensively, offering creativity to customers for their evaluation and aiding decision making, personalisation or customisation and incorporating variable information on each label or package at short notice. Their experience in pre-press has helped them greatly and he believes that by adding full post press setup Trigon has become a one stop shop for the needs of brand owners. The additional cost of digitally converted products needs to spell value for customers to justify the cost. Anil asserts that the vision for success of flexo graphic printing and Digital printing should be looked at separately and not as a comparison. 

 

Trigon Digital Solutions plans to remain focused in digital Printing. With already a facility in Dubai and an office in Singapore they are a global entity and they will be expanding their global reach by establishing a setup in U.K. in 2019-2020 as they already have customers in 18 countries including UK and Europe. They have endeavored to remain logistically close to customers to be able to provide service at their doorstep. Surprisingly due to their business model of being linked to packaging development, marketing and brand management, their revenues do not come from purchase budgets of customers but come from their marketing budgets. Trigon making optimum use of space operates out of around 1800 square feet shop floor area of all facilities put together. Headquartered in Andheri East, Mumbai they have a workforce of 102 persons. At Trigon every new creation is a challenge but developing it is not. Anil proudly says innovation, technology, extensive knowledge of prepress, and having “People with Passion” in their team has always been a winning force for Trigon. They are committed to improve upon what the customer wants or brings to them for creation of a label or package that will spell success for their products and brand. 

 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman WeldonCelloplast Limited New Delhi December 2018

 

Thirty-one years after joining Huhtamaki-PPL (formerly Paper Products Limited or PPL), Suresh Gupta retired as its Executive Chairman. He joined the company in 1987 at a difficult time for the company, as business had slowed down since 1980 and they had to sell off their paper mill. When Suresh became a part of PPL the turnover of the company was just Rs.24 Crore and with a large workforce of 700 employees. He led the company until his retirement with sales reaching almost 100 times to Rupees 2300 Crores and the number of people working rose to 3500! Huhtamaki-PPL is now the largest producer of printed and finished flexible packaging materials in India. Under his leadership, the company, led not only PPL’s but also India’s foray into diverse label technologies as well. They were the very first entrant into shrink sleeve labels in association with Fuji Seal of Japan. Today Huhtamaki-PPL is the largest player in label manufacturing segment in India with their label sales touching 400 Crores which includes Pressure sensitive labels, Shrink Sleeves, Wrap arounds, In-moulds and other label forms. They are vendors to the virtual “who is who” in the Indian branded consumer goods and pharmaceutical industries. In pressure sensitive adhesive labels alone also, they are the largest at 200 Crores after taking over Webtech Labels, Ajanta Packaging and Positive Packaging.
Suresh Gupta
Being an army man’s son Suresh’s childhood was spent at various locations within India. His father who is now 92 years of age, was a paratrooper with artillery from the well-known 17 parafeild regiment of Indian army and retired as Director of Military intelligence. After retirement he was assigned as Director SSB (Special Security Bureau) by the cabinet secretariat. Retiring from SSB he was taken by the Himachal Government to be the chairman of Himachal State Electricity Board. Suresh has a brother who is 9 years younger than him and followed his father’s footsteps to join the army, has primarily headed combat formations, served in the UN Peace Corps and is currently a Major General. Typical of army families, Suresh’s schooling took place at various schools across the country, the last two being St. Georges School, Agra, and St Xavier’s School Delhi where he was in the boarding and finished in 1967 with excellent marks.  Being underage, he could not apply for admission into the IIT or Delhi University colleges, so at the age of 15 years he did a year of pre-engineering at Government college for Men Chandigarh, where the youth in him got the better of him in not attending any classes other than chemistry. He did poorly, much to the disappointment of his father who was posted in Ambala at that time. His mother gave him 200 Rupees and sent him to Delhi to his grandmother. Admissions had closed for most good courses but a good school marksheet helped him get admission for BA economics honours in the prestigious Hindu College Delhi University. He studied hard and in the very first year he got a first division and ranked in the University to win back his father’s confidence. After graduating from Delhi University Suresh went to the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management studies Bombay, which then was considered amongst the best two in the country.



Finishing his MBA, he was motivated and impressed upon by the head of HR department of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute who was also the vice president of Corning Borosil to join Corning Borosil, which he eventually did as a management trainee in 1974. 




 
Suresh and wife Kumi




The following year in 1975 he got promoted and got married to Kum Kum Talwar fondly called Kumi. Kumi graduated from the prestigious Lady Shriram College in Psychology honours and did her Masters in Social Work when she topped her class in Delhi University, and has been Suresh’s close confidante. At a young age of 23 he was posted in Madras as Regional Manager South for Corning Borosil who manufactured custom designed glass reactors for specialised industrial chemical processes, laboratory glassware and consumer ware under brand names Corning, Borosil and Pyrex. Surprisingly his immediate colleague working under him, the Head of Sales and Service was 52 years old. 






 
With daughters Ratna(L) and Shivani(R)
He enjoyed his stint in Madras as it was great learning time there and in 1979 his elder daughter Ratna was born. Post Emergency when the Janta government came to power the then minister George Fernandes came down heavily on US companies. While Coca Cola left the country, Corning was asked to dilute their equity to less than 40%. Suresh Gupta was at this time transferred to Delhi as Regional Manager North with additional responsibility of interacting with government and convincing them to excuse Corning from this equity reduction as a special case. Being a high technology company also supplying critical materials to defence, they were not allowed by USA government to setup ventures where they did not have full control. It was tremendous experience for Suresh, one side interacting with government and other side selling to large industries, government laboratories and finally setting up channel sales for their consumer products. Once it was clear that government of India would not relent regarding equity dilution, the company stopped further capital investment into the country. Now that it was evident that there would be no growth in the company, Suresh decided it was time to move on in life.
He shared his thoughts with a friend at Usha International, who instantly arranged for Suresh to meet Lala Charat Ram of Shriram group. He was taken on board and became Divisional Manager of the Lucknow Division of Usha International, stationed at Lucknow when he was 28 years old with almost 200 people working under him. Usha was selling sewing machines, electric fans and agricultural pumps. This was a challenging job as the market was extremely competitive and majority of the employees i.e. the mechanics, belonged to a militant union and were unionised. The area of operation for him was interesting as criminals and bad elements roamed free there. There are interesting and scary stories of his time spent in those areas. Due to his frequent tours his family at home had to be provided armed security guards due to threats.
Sardari Lal Talwar Founder Paper Products






During this period there was pressure from his wife Kumi’s family to join Paper Products Ltd. the company founded by her father Sardari Lal Talwar.











In the meantime, a close friend of Suresh Gupta from Middle East came visiting him in Lucknow out
of the blue with a first-class open ticket and a proposal to join the Doha headquartered Almana Group whose Chairman wanted an executive director who he could trust to join his Board as there seemed many issues with his existing team. Suresh took the trip to evaluate what was being offered, finding it very exciting he accepted the offer and joined them in late 1982. In due course, various businesses were put under him some of which he started, and seven companies including an IBM agency reported to him. He then was designated as Executive Director-International, he started businesses or had oversight of investments in Saudi, Dubai, Turkey, UK and US. After joining he recruited 16 Indian Managers in his team and parted company with four other Managers already in the company. He spent the next five years in Doha and reminisces of them as fascinating years, as a time of immense learning, travelling all over the world for 15-20 days each month. His younger daughter Shivani was born there. In the beginning of 1987 Suresh and Kumi were reviewing their career and lifestyle. Their eight-year-old elder daughter who was going to British school could not speak a word of Hindi, their mother tongue. They wondered if they should continue to live in the Middle East. The Almana Chairman understanding their dilemma offered to station Suresh in another country of his choice. At this time Suresh was also toying with the idea of taking up an assignment with United Nations but Kumi’s family was persistent and he decided to return to India and join Paper Products. 
Rare picture of Suresh Gupta and father in law Sardari Talwar
In October 1987 Suresh Gupta and family returned to India to join Paper Products as a promoter and he acquired a minority shareholding. As mentioned earlier even though being a legendary company it had problems, the paper mill they had in Roha was sold. Kumi was the youngest child of Sardari Lal Talwar her two brothers were ageing and not keeping well and have since passed away.
Paper Products Limited was founded by Sardari Lal Talwar in 1935 in Lahore, that time in undivided India. Sardari Lal was running one of the four largest departmental stores of India of that time called Moolchand of Lahore with a customer base of Indian royal families and Britishers. The store stocked goods like a modern-day multi product retail and was founded by his Grandfather Moolchand and Uncle Khairati Ram who were also very charitable persons. They were running Hospitals, Schools, Temples and Dharamshalas (subsidised dwelling for travellers). Moolchand Dharamshala in Lahore was just opposite the Lahore Railway Station. The founders passed away at an early age and leaving the business to a young 15-year-old Sardari Lal. Moolchand store was importing milk bottle caps made of paperboard and paper crimped cups for the army till one day a British army officer in charge of the Dairy came to him and suggested that he import the paper and make the caps and pastry crimp cups in India. It would save the army some amounts enabling them to extend their budget. Sardari on advice of his international friends got the hand presses developed in India, imported some dies and punches and started to make the caps and cups in Lahore in 1935. 
To start this maiden manufacturing venture, he emptied one of the Moolchand store warehouses and commenced production with the signboard outside reading, “PAPER PRODUCTS”. He later imported machinery from Windmoller and Holscher Germany in 1939 to start manufacturing paper bags. This was the inception of what is today Huhtamaki-PPL.
Moolchand Hospital Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi
Then came the partition of India, all was lost and left behind in Lahore when the family migrated to Delhi. For all the charitable work that the family did in what was left behind in Pakistan, Sardari Lal was given land in Lajpat Nagar as compensation. He had an emotional need to carry the philanthropic ideals of his parents, so before doing anything else he established the “Moolchand Kharaitiram Hospital” in Lajpat Nagar, South Delhi. He also started making packaging products that he was already doing before. Immediately after world war II in 1948 the Germans were holding the first Drupa, Sardari Lal, travelled by ship to attend where he met and struck friendship with some of the leading packaging people in Europe. Owing to his good reputation, Windmoller and Holscher gave him five Bag making machines with printing, on open credit. He returned to start a factory in Faridabad in 1949 followed by one in Ghatkopar Mumbai. Paper Products started to grow steadily and Sardari Talwar took his company public in 1951 retaining 51% with himself. Paper Products started to grow steadily and Sardari Talwar took his company public in 1951 retaining 51% with himself. 
Thana Factory
Billy Heller owner of Milprint (now a part of Bemis Company, Inc.), then the world’s leading flexible packaging company based in Milwaukee, USA became a dear friend of Sardari Lal. Billy was also a philanthropist wanting to share his knowledge with the world, had set up an organisation called Milprint International Club with global leaders including Paper Products as members. With Milprint’s technical help he built the Thana factory in 1960 to the then world class standards. At this time his elder son Dr. K K Talwar who had done his doctorate in USA at the institute of Paper Chemistry returned to India. A little later his younger son Suresh Talwar completing his master’s in economics from USA, also returned to India. Dr KK Talwar was amongst India’s foremost scientists in chemical technology and paper making, he drove the company’s technology leadership. Suresh Talwar was the dynamic operational business head of the company. Business grew after Thana factory was commissioned, and many small factories were constructed across the country at Madras, Calcutta, Nagpur, Hyderabad and a paper mill in Roha.
Around 1980 things slowed down due to various reasons, the paper mill in Roha got sold, it was a difficult period. In 1987 the family had convinced their son-in-law Suresh Gupta to return to India and join the company. Suresh joined in October 1987 and spent a whole year working hard, travelled extensively in India and around the world to learn the technology and business as also meeting all the major customers and suppliers of PPL to understand the intricacies of their business. By 1989 Suresh was ready with his business plan that included induction of new latest technologies, while very slowly shutting down all factories except Thane. Due to the humane angle they did not abruptly sack people but informed transparently that in 10 years’ time this would happen. This with intention to let ageing employees retire and not add any new ones. However, expansion in Thane factory was kept going on, old machines were phased out and replaced by new ones and the staff from shop floor workers to upwards were given in-house training in latest technologies. Meantime a new cadre of craftsmen trainees, diploma trainees, graduate engineer trainees and management trainees was started with inductions of freshers from ITIs, diploma schools, engineering colleges and management institutes. An elaborate program of in-house training was put in place. The program was designed by Suresh and his colleagues to suit their specific needs may they be technology, customer or people handling. They were transforming the company to project their acumen in offering the latest in packaging. They went digital way ahead of time in 1989 when they started digital scanning and digital engraving of cylinders. They also started to computerise the company ahead of time. A start up consultancy company was recruited to put-in a modern computer hardware and software system (one of the first ERP’s) to replace the old card punch system. While modernising operations in Thana factory he shut down the old printing and wax coating converting lines and installed modern gravure printing and lamination lines making Thana a state of art unit once again. The first metalliser capable of producing certified barrier coatings was commissioned in 1994. There were many things done for the first time in India.
With Amar Chhajed
Suresh continued to add new products and expand his footprints into the world of packaging and in one of his frequent travels in 1990 he saw shrink labels in Japan. He established contact with the Fuji Seal Chairman Masaki Fujio, the global inventor of shrink sleeve and became the only licensee of Fuji Seal for shrink sleeve manufacturing in 1991. At around the same time he was discussing Therimage label technology with Dennison, later merged with Avery to become Avery Dennison. This technology enabled labels to be printed on a coated film and transfer the images on to the bottles eliminating the need for release liners. PPL installed the Therimage label production facility in Thana. Therimage was a challenge for Avery’s core business of pressure Sensitive adhesive products, so they bought Dennison and killed the Therimage business. Suresh saw the future of Therimage with Avery was not bright, so he shifted focus to pressure sensitive labels where the growth looked inevitable. PPL invested in an Aquaflex Label press and they were into manufacturing PSA labels at the Thana factory in 1994. In later years wanting to grow in labels business, since he was not finding enough of the right people and expertise to expand, he decided to buy expertise. For this reason, he bought Amar Chhajed led Webtech Labels, the leader in pharma labels in India. Then, Suresh extended his reach in fmcg by buying Chandan Khanna led Ajanta Packaging as well. In between he had acquired Positive Packaging which though large in flexibles had also taken over the labels business of SGRE in Bangalore. Therefore, now they have pressure sensitive label production in Mahape, Baddi, Rudrapur, Thana, Daman, Hyderabad and Bangalore.  


 
Silvasa Factory
Being a first-time entrant into some of the evolving technologies he had to develop global suppliers and was instrumental in their eventually coming India. By 1994 Suresh was wanting to build another world class factory, despite resistance coming from the family which still held 51%, he went ahead with his plans for building it in Silvasa. PPL made a rights issue to raise the money to build the factory and enhance the working capital for growth. Construction began in the 12 acres property in 1995 and in one year the unit was in production for mainly flexible packaging including shrink sleeves. They made profit in the first year itself. Paper Products Ltd was growing at breakneck speed ranging between 20-30% per annum.
In 1998 Suresh bought the Hyderabad unit of Gautam Thapar, Ballarpur Industries which had been 
Hyderabad Factory
setup as a joint venture with A and R, a leading European flexibles company. The unit was completely refurbished and new capacity was added. Hyderabad became the centre for wrap around labels. Meanwhile the company had made another rights issue to fund growth and the family’s holdings reduced to 32% as some members did not exercise their options. To fund the continued growth and expansion Suresh wanted to do yet another rights issue and wanted the family to increase their holding. But the younger generation were pursuing other professions, so it was decided to bring in an outside investor in synergy with PPL’s business. Van Leer and Huhtamaki combination which eventually merged to be one entity became the major investor chosen from amongst many options. Rather than the family selling its shares, PPL’s share base was doubled and the foreign partner directly invested into the company through preferential allotment of shares equivalent to 51% of the enhanced equity on 16 July 1999.
The company now with Huhtamaki as the new majority shareholder continued to aggressively pursue growth. Huhtamaki worldwide as a Euro 3 billion consumer packaging major had almost 100 companies across the globe. In 2001 and again in 2005, the Huhtamaki Board awarded PPL with the most exclusive and prestigious award of “Best Company of the Year”. PPL also received the “Most Innovative Company of the Year” award. Meanwhile Suresh was awarded the globally best “Manager of the Year” award, a unique honour.
Consequent to new fiscal incentives being announced by Government for Uttarakhand, a huge factory was built yet again on a 12-acre plot and commissioned at Rudrapur which again made a profit in the first year of production, and PPL continued with growth.
Huhtamaki wanted Suresh Gupta to head Huhtamaki’s global flexible business which he was hesitant to accept as he had no interest in moving out of Mumbai. However, he accepted to take the responsibility for Asia Oceania, operating from his base in Mumbai for three years. Finally, Huhtamaki removed his objection to running the group’s global flexible packaging business by telling him he could run it from his Bombay office. He had to accept the responsibility and ran the global business as an EVP and member of the Executive Board for Huhtamaki for six years. Thereafter he reverted to be the Executive Chairman for PPL but stepped down from his role as a promoter and simultaneously as per Huhtamaki’s desire he sold his shareholding to Huhtamaki.




Meantime industry peers honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and Print Week, based on a readership vote. ranked him number 1 in the top 100 ranking of individuals in the industry. In Feb 2018, Suresh handed over day to day running of HPPL to the new Managing Director while he focused on tying up Board issues.
 






On 31st December 2018, Suresh Gupta retired and left the company that he so fondly nurtured.
 

In recent years, as a hobby, Suresh has been a supporter of socially beneficial enterprises from start-up stage and of businesses with purpose. He is also deeply interested in Art. He plans to intensify his work here and run a packaging industry advisory from his new office in Bandra. He would be happy to be of help to industry colleagues. He also plans to continue his active role in the “Indian Flexibles and Folding Cartons Association of India (IFCA)”. He leaves behind for his successors in HPPL his philosophy for success: “Sound fundamentals are enshrined in Good values; being Good compassionate people, knowing knowledge is power to be used with integrity, ever improving quality and service and continuous innovation makes for happy customers. Be the flag bearer of standard in your industry”.

Suresh Gupta can be reached at his email: suresh.gupta20@gmail.com

Print Publications are free to reproduce this article by compulsorily giving credit to author and mentioning blog address http://harveersahni.blogspot.com 
 

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. January 2019

Indian Label industry has for the last many years been registering steady double-digit growth. The industry largely consists of family-owned small or medium-sized enterprises employing 1-5 label presses. A handful of larger enterprises have surfaced in recent times due to acquisitions or mergers by multinational companies.

The size still needs to become bigger to reach the size of large international label producers. Ironically some of the upcoming existing companies in this segment who were growing and appeared to become large players, opted to be acquired rather than go it alone. We do see some Indian owned label companies now rising from the crowds to become evident in growth beyond the average size. It is hoped that they will also not opt to be acquired, we do need indigenous companies that will grow and prove their mettle. There is an imperative need for these companies to break away from being single owner or family driven businesses to become professionally-managed entities. They need to optimise production processes, manage wastages, invest in workflow automation, etc. leading to continuous growth and better profitability. Stronger bottom lines in the industry is sure to enable printers investing in expansion and employment of new technologies leading to evolution of the industry, presenting state of art products. A large population and expanding retail trade are driving the demand for labels. The industry that originated in just the metro cities is now spreading to the interiors of India, there is need for further growth as printers realise the need to be multilocational to be able to service customers in a large country more efficiently. At this time the exhibition Labelexpo is looked at with interest as it provides knowledge not only to existing printers but also to new entrants. It showcases the best of indigenous and international label production equipment, materials and consumables at one place. India’s label association LMAI not only supports this important exhibition but also adds value to it by organising events on the side lines, making it worthwhile for their printer and supplier members.

LMAI, L9 meet: L9 is the informal platform of leading global trade associations for the labels and narrow-web industry which was founded in 2009 for the purposes of communicating regional issues and developments to the global industry, identifying and jointly examining issues of transnational concern to industry members, sharing information, developing and recommending best Industry practices regarding efficiency,

training, technology, safety and environmental matters, recognizing Industry achievements and pursuing such other programmes and activities as may promote and better the industry worldwide. The alliance consists of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America), LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Every year L9 meets in one of the member association countries. At the last 7th L9 meet in Beijing China it was decided that LMAI India will host the next meet. LMAI has made elaborate plans. It is now scheduled to be a 4-day prestigious global meet that will include multiple events and agendas including Label Exchange Program, L9 Board Meeting, Industry visits, Labelexpo visit, networking and leisure activities. The event will also cover a wide range of subjects within the label industry including sourcing and consumption of raw material, future demands, quality parameters, new machinery, innovative technologies and global trends. 

Spearheading the program LMAI past President Sandeep Zaveri says, “We are very excited to welcome the L9 participants to India” acknowledging support of his LMAI colleagues Vivek Kapur, Amit Sheth, Ajay Mehta, Harveer Sahni, President-Kuldip Goel, Rajesh Nema, Ramesh Deshpande and Dinesh Mahajan in organising this important event, he further adds, “It is an opportunity for all our label printer friends to meet international label printing leaders and hear them on various ascents like recycling sustainability.” The L9 meet and related events are sponsored by SMI Coated Products as main sponsor and Intergraphic Pulisi. 

LMAI Avery Dennison Label Awards Night: This prestigious Label industry biennial event has

traditionally been organised by Tarsus, the organiser of Labelexpo India along with the show Labelexpo. This is the first time that the event is being organised by LMAI under the leadership of their President Kuldip Goel. LMAI Avery Dennison Awards night will take place on the first day of Labelexpo India on 22nd of November 2018 at Expo Mart Greater Noida, UP India. It is expected to be a memorable event full of information, presentations, entertainment and global networking opportunities as the international visitors who will come for L9 meet will also be present. The award categories are as follows;
·       Flexo Category 
·       Letterpress Category
·       Offset Category 
·       Combination Printing Category  
·       Digital Printing Category 
·       Screen Printing Category
·       Rotogravure Category (under Gold Category)
·       Booklets & Coupon Labels Category (under Gold Category)
·       Innovation Category (under Gold Category)
·       Green Sustainable Category
The entry to the awards night function is restricted to either invitees or paid ticket holders.
PRICES AND BOOKING;
·       Individual places – per seat price – Rs. 3999
·       For LMAI members the cost is subsidised to Rs. 2999 Sponsors for this gala night are as follows;

  • Avery Dennison           Gold Sponsor
  • Vinsak                          Silver Sponsor
  • Nilpeter                        Silver Sponsor
  • SMI Coated Products   Silver Sponsor
  • OMET and Dupont      Silver sharing Sponsor
  • Intergraphic Pulisi        Silver Sponsor
  • Gallus/Heidelberg        Silver Sponsor
  • J N Arora and Co.        Silver Sponso

Labelexpo India: Labelexpo India is scheduled to be held at Expo Martsharing , Greater Noida, UP India from 22nd to 25th November 2018. It is the largest event for the label and package printing industry in South Asia – with more products, more launches and more live demonstrations! The exhibition will display Digital and conventional printing presses, High tech label and packaging materials, Prepress and platemaking technology, Finishing and converting systems, Inspection, overprinting and label application equipment, Dies, cutters, rollers, Inks and coatings, RFID and security solutions, Software and interactive technology. Spread over 4 days in 4 halls the show has 250 exhibitors which include Avery Dennison, Bobst, Esko, HP, Hyden Packaging, Martin Automatic, Monotech Systems, Nilpeter, OMET, RK Label, Xeikon, and Zhejiang Weigang Machinery. The last labelexpo India in 2016 saw over 8000 visitors.

Brand Innovation Day: Labelexpo India 2018 hosted “Brand Innovation Day” will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 22 November (Day 1 of the show). It will include a series of presentations followed by a short tour of key suppliers, highlighting the latest technologies and showing how brands can achieve stand-out product presence. About 50 brand owners and packaging designers in India are expected to attend. The purpose of the program is to equip delegates with expert insight into making the most out of their brand, how they can overcome key challenges on the path to future growth and staying ahead of competition in a fast-paced industry. 

Labelexpo Global Series managing director Lisa Milburn, who will open the Brand Innovation Day, said: “Our most commonly asked question at Labelexpo India is how brands can learn how to use their labels and packaging to stand out from the competition. Given the success and popularity of our educational program for our other Labelexpo events including our Americas show in held in last September, we wanted to provide similar opportunities for Labelexpo India attendees. The appetite for labels and package printing continues undiminished in India and it is now one of the biggest growth markets, so it felt the right moment to offer this educational opportunity to brand owners and packaging designers at the show itself. “The Brand Innovation Day” is a rare chance for them to gain industry insights into how a brand can be inspired to innovate, experience the highlights of Labelexpo India 2018, and learn the tricks of the trade from the experts.”

The Labelexpo India Brand Innovation Day is sponsored by HP, Avery Dennison and SMI.
The above article is written and compiled by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India, October 2018

In an ever-evolving label scenario, the need to produce more efficiently, reduce wastage, shorten downtime, reduce interest and financial stress due to big inventories, reducing manpower and achieving more revenue per asset are necessities that will add to financial health of companies. To achieve the here mentioned imperatives, many companies are increasing the use of digital technologies, automation and artificial intelligence. This not only helps them to be system driven rather than being human driven but also empowers them to add to their bottom lines with peace of mind. Chris Ellison the 20th President of leading global label association FINAT has transformed his company OPM Group, Leeds UK, to be a lean manufacturing one with increasing use of automation and digital MIS system to put in place a workflow that performs efficiently and delivering the desired results. This leaves the management in a comfortable managing environment, their customers happy and results in better relations with all stakeholders including suppliers and customers. A walk through the OPM facility is a delight. There is perfect workflow with no bottle necks or stagnation of materials. A very neat and clean unit where every process leads to the next with aid of an IT enabled workflow and automation. The MIS system has been created by involving the internal team, all suppliers, prepress developers, logistic partners and customers as well. Generally, printers do not share information with their vendors, here the vision of the Ellison family has created a system that makes the unit to work with perfect harmony and the appreciation they get helps in better relations with their customers.
 
In most printing companies the sales force is nowhere in sight and the general perception on the shop floor is that sales people have all the fun travelling and partying with customers. Chris’s vision is to inculcate a sense of togetherness and team work in the entire workforce. Each shift when workers enter the factory, in the first room they get to see behind a glass wall, is the sales force working hard at their desks preparing for yet another gruelling day with customers creating a continuous flow of order. This also instils a sense of bonding as Chris feels that all the workforce needs to feel committed and create success with the inspiration, “Together we will”! Each order that is entered into the system goes through a digital workflow that is available on screens throughout the company and every department can see the progress without any hindrance. From costing, quotation, order approval, pre-press, inventory management, delivering raw materials to presses, finishing, packaging, despatch and invoicing goes on in clockwork precision. All staff, vendors, transporters and customers are hooked on to the system for the information that they are required to access and react to. It is an information highway created for smooth travel of all orders from initiation to delivery. 
 
One cannot see any congregation or unnecessary movement of workers in the factory or over loaded warehouse. A company with 20 million pounds turnover has just 73 employees. Chris says, “implementation of these system has helped us achieve a high turnover of 4 million pounds per asset or per Label press” he further adds that trained and efficient people are scarce to find so they must invest in an IT department and in training people, which is expensive, but it is justified for them to be more efficient. Subscribing to principals of Total Quality Management, all products at OPM are produced to ISO 9001:2015, BRC/IoP Global Standard Food Packaging standards Grade AA and PS9000:2016. They are printed using low migration/ Food Grade Inks. Truly, Chris Ellison as industry leader is setting examples for peers to follow.
 
Jack Ellison and his three partners ran a small engineering company building overprinting machines. His 20 years old son Chris wished to have his own business so started importing Dot Matrix printers from Germany and selling in UK. While in school Chris did not really excel in academics but was very inquisitive about how things worked, enjoyed creativity by changing things and wished to do something different and innovative. After finishing school education, he went on to a technical college to study engineering. He had two brothers and a sister. Both his brothers died due to cancer, one passed away at the age of 34 when Chris was just 15 years and the second at the age of 40 when Chris was 20 years old.  These losses left a void in him and he vowed never to waste a day in his life.
 
One Christmas a person made him a good offer and Chris sold his Dot Matrix business. Mean while one of the partners in his father’s company died in 1986 and discontent started between the partners creating uncertainty. His mother too was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 64 however she passed away much later at the age of 93, just one day after Chris moved his operations to the present facility. His father Jack Ellison could not take the stress at that time, so Chris first took over his father’s share in the business that his father was in with partners and later, since he had the cash from sale of his own business, he bought over rest of the partners. The company had at that time just installed a small Tackiboy label press. Operating out of 1000 square foot factory, 95% of the business was coming from the label press, machine manufacturing was terminated making them primarily a label manufacturing company. 
 
The company was renamed OPM Labels & Packaging group as Chris wished to produce labels and flexible packaging which till date remains their core business. In 1989 OPM bought their first flexo press Propheteer the very first one to be sold into UK. By 1999 OPM flexibles was in place to produce printed films, filmic laminates and sachets. They had by then acquired 6 Nilpeter label presses. As time went by OPM have upgraded their machines by replacing the old ones with new machines. This was done to achieve better efficiency, low wastages and faster production, the number of presses remain; 6 Nilpeters. A seventh Nilpeter is expected to be installed in the last quarter of 2018. About waste management Chris Ellison says “OPM take their environmental responsibility seriously, we are proud to assure our customers that their label products are being produced with as little impact on the environment as possible”. They have recently been awarded their Zero Labels 2 Landfill Certification.
 
OPM is jointly owned by Chris and his wife Susan Ellison. Susan is active in business, looks after the human resource functions, Manage and organise implementation of MIS and Automation systems, Project Managing, R&D alongside with Chris, offers inputs from a design and repro background, takes initiatives for new developments, marketing-Communications and strategic planning. She came to the business with reprographic experience having worked with various companies in the field. Their daughter Charlotte 28 and son Arnold 26 are also working in OPM making it a totally family owned and managed company. 
 
 
Chris feels it is challenging to keep pace with your business as it evolves. One must rely on people and motivate them to grow with your business, the leadership must have the desire, passion and will to take it further and pass it on to his team. Chris and Susan also are involved in a lot of charity work investing time and money in cancer research and aftercare. His elevation in FINAT as president has helped him to get a broader perspective of international label trade. It has helped his expand his knowledge through the global networking platform that FINAT offers. He tries hard to connect with the large spread out membership base and create value for members.
 




The above article is exclusively written for Label and Narrow web magazine USA. This may not be reproduced without permission.
Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman, Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India September 2018
 
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

 

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
 
Waste matrix stripping or removal in production of self adhesive labels is a very important part of label conversion and is an imperative that leads to a web of labels which can be dispensed on automatic label dispensers in high speed packaging lines. Even though it sounds to be a simple process of stripping the ladder like extra waste after die cutting of labels, yet it remains to be one of the most complex and problematic area of label converting process. A problem with waste removal, like matrix breaking or labels lifting with the waste ladder may slow down the machine or in some cases make it extremely difficult to remove it online. Converters may have to resort to removing the waste manually offline making the process unproductive and costly. A host of parameters affect the process and it is difficult to address the issue in a singular way. With so many variables that impact the waste removal process, it is difficult to predict a simple solution. It could be due to the shape of label, size of label, release liner, face stock, adhesive, die cutting process, speed of conversion, die blades or the design of the waste removal section that may affect the correct and efficient removal at the optimum machine speed. Any of these may impact the final result and slow down the machine and the printing process. No one solution can apply to all problems. The traditional waste rewinding system is gradually becoming unpopular due the fact that tension is the key to efficient waste rewind. The rewound waste matrix ladder roll has empty spaces from where labels have been die-cut and as the roll becomes bigger there is lot of irregular tensions leading to breaks. As the market becomes extremely competitive with rising prices of labelstocks printers tend to reduce the gap between the labels to 2mm making the process even more difficult. This article will dwell on most of the variables mentioned here above.
 
Release Liners: The most widely used base papers as release liners in self adhesive label materials are glassine, super calendared Kraft and clay coated Kraft. These are uniform caliper, densified and non porous papers that have adequate strength and accept a uniform coating of silicone giving excellent releasing properties to become a proper backing for self adhesive papers. In recent years due to possibility of recycling and reducing the tonnage of waste generated, filmic liners also are being used as backing in labels. Release liners play a major role in die cutting and in turn impact the waste removal process. The die blade has to cut through the laminate and stop at the face of the liner so has to achieve a perfect half cut or kiss cut. The uniform thickness or caliper of the liner is an imperative. If the liner has variations, it will create problems at die cutting and eventually at waste stripping. If the release gets thicker the die will pierce the liner making a through cut and exposing paper fibers to the adhesive.  This also may result in web breaks. If the liner gets thinner, the die will not cut resulting in labels lifting with the matrix. Release level of the liner is also very important. If the release level is tight the matrix will tend to break due to tension and if it is too easy, labels will tend to lift with the ladder. Uneven silicone coating or pinholes in coating may also create problems. If the labelstock prior to waste matrix removal goes through a nip roll that has excessive pressure between them, the edges may develop micronic nicks that may render the face paper susceptible to web breaks. The paper rolls may also develop these rough edges in transportation and mishandling. The web needs to be inspected thoroughly before taking up label conversion.
 
 Face Paper:  Paper and films are generally used as face materials. A fairly high strength paper will perform well if all other parameters are addressed. If the gap in labels is too small, 2mm or less, the matrix will tend to break repeatedly. Moisture content in paper should ideally be between 3.5% and 5.5%; sharp increase in moisture will affect the strength adversely. The tensile strength of paper at Relative Humidity (RH) up to 50% is maximum after which it moderately decreases with RH up to 65% and on further increase in RH, it drops sharply. The uncoated papers are hygroscopic, so they tend to absorb moisture faster than coated papers. Evidently weather and storage condition of paper does have an impact on waste removal. Even when using emulsion based adhesive if the adhesive is not dried properly, the face paper will tend to absorb the residual moisture from the adhesive and result in deterioration of paper and affect waste stripping. In case of filmic face stocks, weather may not impact but the condition of die and quality of die cutting does play a major role. If the die is damaged or blunt it may not cut properly resulting in label lifting or film tear.
 
Adhesive: Commonly available labelstocks are coated with either emulsion based or hot melt pressure sensitive adhesives (HMPSA). In both cases for a perfect waste removal it is necessary that the die cuts through the adhesive as well, as otherwise if the coated film of adhesive is not cut, labels will lift with the matrix. Emulsion adhesives have good die cut ability however hot melt adhesives for better die cutting properties have to be specially selected. In case of HMPSA if the waste is not lifted immediately after die cutting the adhesive may rejoin and lift the labels with the matrix.

 

 

Size and shape of a label: These are parameters that are customer driven based on their specific needs, so the converting company cannot request changes from customer.  Small labels have a very limited area of contact and reduced tack holding it to the release liner and with little force the label may fly off or lift off with the matrix. In such a case die makers suggest packing self adhesive foam in the die shapes so as to push the label back on the release liner. Other times printers have found limited success in addressing this problem by increasing speed of the web. Waste ladder removal of irregular and complex shaped labels with sharp corners like in a star shape, is even more complex to handle. This becomes even more difficult in substrates like BOPP where a small nick may lead to web break. Converters need to slow down the machine to a great extent to finish the labels online. Machine manufacturers have addressed this issue of handling complex shapes as explained later in this article.
 
Die design: The die has a definite role to play in waste matrix removal. The subject is extensive and can take a full article to dwell on the nuances. The blade angle, blade height and coating on the die are factors that lead to ease or difficulty of label conversion.  Thickness of the face materials, type of adhesive and thickness of release liners are all imperative inputs that are needed before a die is put into production. A die that is designed for paper material is not recommended for filmic materials. Blade angle for paper is kept wider so that after penetration of around 80% into the paper the rest of the cut happens by crush or bursting of the material before stopping at the surface of the liner. In case of filmic face material a sharper acute angle is needed to pierce the film as in case of a wider angle the film will stretch and not be cut. An acute angle blade appears to cut better but wears off faster than the wider angle blade dies. Depending on the materials used the die angle varies between 45degrees and 110 degrees. The blade height needs to be adjusted to cut through the face, which maybe paper or film or a laminate, and adhesive without piercing the release liner. If any of the parameters is not right, the waste matrix removal will become a challenge. If the blade pierces the liner even slightly, it may expose the release paper fibers to the adhesive and get stuck to them causing waste ladder breakage. If the blade does not cut through the adhesive, labels will lift with the matrix. In case of coated materials like direct thermal and thermal transfer the coatings on the paper are abrasive in nature and tend to make the die wear off soon. In such case laser hardened dies are recommended. Adhesive sticking and building up on the dies also results in uneven cutting and also resulting in early die wear off. This is more evident where aggressive high tack hot melt adhesives are used. For this reason special non stick, coated dies are available so that the adhesive will not stick to them. The standard gap between the magnetic cylinder and the anvil is also very important as in case of die wear off the gap increases resulting in spaces where labels are not cut and would lift off with the matrix and to get a perfect cut the die pressure is increased. This results in faster wearing off of the bearers leading to a smaller gap and over cutting. Care has to be taken in die storage and handling. Before commencing any job proper inspection of die should be done regarding cleaner blades, blunt edges or nicks. The dies need to be stored in an environment avoiding excess humidity which may result in rusting.
 
Machine manufacturers have been consistently making efforts to address the issue of waste matrix removal to aid faster converting. Some of the steps taken include; 1.Lifting the waste matrix immediately after die-cutting. 2. Taking the die to a larger diameter stripping roller that would support the waste ladder on separation rather than a thin diameter roll that would provide a sharp angle to waste being stripped off. 3. By rethreading the paper in such a manner that the label web is peeled off the matrix instead of the matrix being pulled off. 4. De-laminating the web and re-laminating it before die cutting as this would reduce the tension required to peel off. These measures did help to some extent but complex shapes and a host of issues and factors that impact this process have had machine manufacturers continuously researching this area to keep implementing changes. One such solution that came around some years back was suction of the waste matrix into a suction and shredding system. This does take care of the tension and also manages waste by cutting it to small pieces and compacting it, but such systems have other problems. They are expensive, large in size so difficult to be fitted on presses due to lack of space, costly to operate as they use extra motors, compressor or vacuum and very noisy to run. Yet there is a brighter side to it, there is development going on to separate the waste and recycle it inline so as to reduce the impact on environment.
 
 
The larger established press manufacturers seem to have reached a viable solution. Some years ago they have introduced a big innovation in the industry by designing a simpler contact system rewinder for waste matrix. The idea was very simple; instead of pulling only the matrix up to the rewinder, we pull the entire web up near the rewinder. Here the matrix is peeled off against an idle roll and immediately pasted on the rewinder. Basically this reduces the travel of the matrix from 1 meter to hardly 5 cm and the journey is even supported by a roll. This system has now become the standard with many label press manufacturers
 
 
 
 
 
“Simple solutions are invented to simplify the label converting process however It does not hold true for all jobs, when a problem comes it can be challenging and creating a solution can be another game changer”!
 
 
 
 
Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi January 2018
 
NOTE: This article is exclusively written for magazine Label and Narrow Web USA. Publications desirous of reproducing the article may write for permission to Steve Katz editor LNW : skatz@rodmanmedia.com