Major Indian converters at K continue to increase capacity

K Review Part 1 – Sustainable laminates are an eye-opener

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Varex II blown film line showcased at the W&H stand with the newly introduced IoT automation suite, Ruby. Photo PSA
Varex II blown film line showcased at the W&H stand with the newly introduced IoT automation suite, Ruby. Photo PSA

Many Indian flexible packaging converters have recently placed orders for gravure and CI flexo presses and blown film lines. Some, perhaps fearing further draconian utterances by the government on plastics, even waited till the Prime Minister’s speech on 2 October, before finalizing their orders. Following this, the orders for blown film lines and presses rolled in.

Major exhibitors at K confirm that at this year’s event, a few Indian visitors were newbies to the industry. The speculators and first-time investors from other sectors, who earlier thought flexible packaging was a fast growth goldmine, are discouraged by the anti-plastic and anti-packaging drift of the current public discourse. This may be a blessing for the experienced flexible film and packaging converters who seem determined to invest in growth and who are ready to grapple with the sustainability issues. For the technically sound part of the industry, the focus can shift to innovation, sustainability and viability.

Blown film lines, metallizers, presses

There are, to our limited knowledge, approximately seven blown film lines on their way to India in the coming months, including a 9-layer and two 7-layer lines. While the majority of these are from W&H, a Brampton water-quenched Aquafrost blown film line is coming to Vishakha Polyfab in Ahmedabad. We believe that an MDO blown film line is on order from Reifenhauser, as well.

A healthy number (in the high single digits) of vacuum metallizers is coming to Indian converters. These are predominantly from Bobst. The thin layer of aluminum (less than .1%) can give most laminates (even those based on single polymer PE layers) the barrier properties needed for food pouches and other flexible pouch applications. The thin layer of aluminum makes the high barrier laminate recyclable.

Also, in the delivery pipeline to Indian flexible packaging converters are several high-speed gravure presses from major European manufacturers. These include the Bobst Rotomec that landed at Parakh Flexipack in Pune just after the start of K, and a pair of presses coming to Aditya Flexipack in Kanpur together with a vacuum metallizer. GLS and Skypack in the Delhi/NCR have Bobst gravure presses coming as do Modern Packaging in Mumbai, Akash Flexibles in Chennai, and Pyraa Flexipack in Mysore.

Gravure holds steady while CI flexo cools down

Gravure and fast gravure with automation seem to have strengthened their grip on the Indian market while there are signs of over-capacity in wide web flexo. There is a significant drop in the influx of CI flexo imports in the current year. The decline is attributed both to the improvements in high-quality gravure presses that can handle thinner and more extensible substrates, such as PE films and laminates, and to the general robustness of a process that has dominated the Indian market. 

Although there is an excellent promise in the technology and it is indispensable for some applications, even brand owners seem reluctant to change over to CI flexo immediately. Vinay Nalawade of Parakh Flexipacks, a company that hitherto was running a fleet of four CI flexo presses, says the company was compelled to buy its first gravure press to grow its markets. There are many types of flexible packaging that still demand the barrier properties than can only be delivered by laminates most efficiently printed on gravure presses.

Indian suppliers at K

Although we will cover these exhibitors more extensively in our K review Part 2, in the December issue of Packaging South Asia, it is clear that the Indian exhibitors had an excellent show. Rajoo Engineers and Kohli Industries are positive about their exports. Rajoo’s 7-layer line was sold to a Vietnamese flexible packaging company before the show. Other exhibitors such as Gayatri Rubtech, which manufactures rubber rollers, and Carbon Light, a first-time exhibitor, had an excellent show. Gayatri said that quality inquiries and sales were double that of the previous K.

Carbon Light was successful in meeting many of the major equipment suppliers who are ready to look at a technically adept and reliable supplier of carbon fiber rollers from India. The company was able to have high-level discussions with several companies at what could be a breakthrough event for the young organization. Apart from the positive discussions, the company has been able to conclude an order with a significant European roller OEM supplier in just days after the show ended.

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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