Balaji Wafers Pvt. Ltd., the Rajkot-based snack food manufacturer, also owns Balaji Multiflex, which is a full-fledged flexible packaging material supplier for its continuous and rapid growth in the snack and processed food industry. Just as the Balaji group has invested in high technology with automation for its hygienic and green factories for food and snacks, it has also recently added a greenfield flexible packaging plant in a new location in Rajkot.
The greenfield Balaji Multiflex plant is driven by a new W&H Varex 3-layer blown film line and a Heliostar 9-color 500 meters a minute gravure press. The very high specification and high speed blown film line and press produces high quality flexible packaging material that is converted on a pair of Nordmeccanica solvent-less laminators brought over from Balaji’s older plant.
The new plant was shown to the more than 150 participants and delegates of the Image to Print show, organized by six leading flexible packaging technology partners and held in Rajkot on 19 and 20 September 2018. Image to Print is a shared technology platform that travels to various global packaging market destinations. Windmoeller & Holscher, Nordmeccanica, Janoschka, Rossini and Siegwerk were present at their first joint event in India and the 18th global event of the shared platform.
Delegates to the Image to Print conference included a large number of major flexible packaging converters from around the country and also a significant number of polymer, prepress technology and consumable suppliers. The highlight of the event was the Open House visit to the new Balaji Multiflex plant to witness the working of the Varex 3-layer blown film line, the Heliostar gravure press and the pair of Nordmeccanica laminators.
The 9-color Heliostar is the first W&H gravure press to be installed in India although several have already been running in Pakistan in the past few years. The 500 meters a minute press includes the highest level of automation, including W&H’s own-developed registration system whose controls are integrated into the single panel used for controlling all the systems on the press. Both the fast makeready with extremely low wastage and bringing up to full 500 meter speed were demonstrated at the Balaji Multiflex open house.
Even at full running speed, the press was shown to have extremely low noise and was demonstrated using non-toluene non-ketone low migration inks supplied by Balaji’s regular supplier – Mumbai-based Hi-Tech Inks. While there were no fumes in the large and modern pressroom, provision has been made for installation of solvent recovery and air-scrubbing equipment connected to the efficient dryers on the press.
Chandubhai Virani, one of the founders of the Balaji group, made clear at the beginning of the Image to Print conference itself that the group is committed to invest in the latest technology in both food processing and packaging. He evoked the group’s ability to take risks for fast growth and its commitment to the latest hygienic and environtment-friendly best practices.
Hard work and risk taking is vital for any entrepreneur to succeed, he said. “If there are no challenges then your life is incomplete. When one fails in one venture it does not matter. One should learn and emerge stronger. Nobody should be afraid of taking risks,” Virani stated on the eve of the open house visit to the new Balaji Multiflex flexible packaging plant, also in Rajkot.
One of the biggest reasons behind the success of Balaji Wafers is that the company has always embraced technology. “We have invested in state-of-the-art machinery at all our plants. If you buy quality machinery, you incur one-time cost but save on long-term costs by minimizing machine downtime and increasing productivity.”
Virani also talked about Balaji Multiflex, the flexible packaging division of the group, which is headed by Pranav Chandrakant Bhalara, who happens to be Virani’s brother-in-law. Before setting up the flexible packaging divsion, Balaji Wafers was buying flexible packaging material from third parties. But with rising volumes, third-party suppliers were unable to keep pace and Balaji Wafers had to stop production occasionally. That is when Bhalara suggested that a flexible packaging division should be set up as part of forward linkage and integration. “My brother-in-law had no experience in flexible packaging. But still he decided to take the risk as he was not afraid of failure. Today, Balaji Multiflex is doing extremely well,” Virani said.
The Balaji group has built strong relationships with its suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers who are seen not merely as supply chain partners but as the human components of its continued growth and success. Virani is clearly a practical industrialist who relentlessly builds trust to deliver value for money food products in world-class packaging.