Gourav Roy, FIG managing director, discusses the Indian label industry, challenges and ways to deal with them.
I divide the Indian label industry in four categories. First are the converters who are still making labels in conventional ways, like sheet-fed offset and finishing off-line, and the converters who are trying to get a foothold with entry level Chinese presses.
The second category is of converters who are working with Indian and certain manufacturers from South America. These guys are just calculating per sqm cost and fighting in the market within same category on price. They do not look at the large picture.
The third category is those running American and European machines. These printers normally like to print good high volume jobs and have the ambition to get into the top category. They are copy cats but with a conservative approach. Their kids coming into the business are making them look out of the box to look at something different to create a unique selling proposition.
And the final, fourth category is that of converters who have a fleet of equipment and multiple locations. They realize turnover is the key driver thus they are looking at best level technology available in the market which will help them to reduce the cost of manufacturing. They are investing in hybrid flexo, digital, diversification to print unsupported films like shrink sleeve, laminates, in-mold and more.
All the categories are facing same challenges including thinner margins, higher raw material cost, and lack of skilled operators. It is inevitable to implement lean manufacturing processes for high quality print yield with lesser dependency on human skill.
Low cost equipment is the way out as the printers have started realizing that investing in a capital expenditure is not a big deal as that's normally laid over several years. However the running cost which is directly linked with cash flow is the challenge. As the margins are shrinking, large converters are focusing on higher yields to achieve higher turnovers.
This is what makes Mark Andy Performance Series P5 press popular in India with 17 installations in the country. Converters targeting specialized labels like multilayer and unsupported films are opting for the Mark Andy Performance Series P7. We have three installations and have a few more in pipeline.
Converters are also realizing the need for quality detection and inspection systems. A lot of credit goes to brand owners. But converters are also starting to realize that delivering quality in a competitive market is critical to success. We have installed 40 Rotoflex machines in metro cities and 22 in tier II cities including Ahmedabad, Sonipat, Baddi, Jammu, Vapi, Sivakasi, Poanta Sahib, Dehradun, Mohali and Pune. This clearly indicates that though there is more demand in big cities, printers in smaller towns are aspiring to grow their businesses too.
With a country wide network, servicing of equipment is critical to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat orders. We, at FIG, understand the cost calculation of a converter and the return of investment. This is one of the most critical aspects which a converter likes us to know. We constantly work to shape technicians and engineers to support them. We are located in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and have engineers and technicians certified by Mark Andy and Rotoflex to support for preventive maintenance and breakdown.
We work on software where if a converter sends us an email or a call to any office, the call is registered in the online system and a ticket is generated. The service coordinator’s job is to assign the ticket to a specific technician. This information is exposed to the management and we internally observe the efficiency to solve the issue. This tool also helps convertors escalate any issues, if needed. As the system is closely monitored by the management, it enhances the customer satisfaction level. Regular feedback from customers not only improves communication but also helps us internally to evaluate skills of the technician and response time. Our support system helps us get repeat orders and cater to all four categories of printers.
Flexo Image Graphics is the exclusive distributor of Mark Andy presses and Rotoflex machines in the Indian sub-continent.