Greenfield flexible plant takes up the Covid-19 opportunity 

Vijayneha Polymers running to capacity within 15 months

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Vijayneha’s supply of flexible packaging has kept the packing lines of major food brands running during the Covid-19 lockdown

Hyderabad-based Vijayneha Polymers officially inaugurated its huge and ultra-modern flexible packaging plant on 17 January 2019 in the presence of its customers, machine suppliers, raw material providers, and bankers. Initially projected to run to 80 to 85% of capacity in the first year, the massive project has gone through a period of turbulence and still achieved near-full capacity utilization. During the pandemic, 700 employees have been running the new plant and one of the company’s older film plants.

The promoter and managing director of Vijayneha, Shiv Kumar Gupta, seized the opportunity thrown up by the Covid-19 lockdown across the country. The pandemic has allowed him to go all out in supporting essential food, pharma and FMCG companies maintaining production in their processing and packaging plants. “Every disruption or pandemic-like situation is an opportunity,” Gupta says. “In a country with such high domestic consumption, there is always growth. For instance, the demand for people restricted to being and cooking more at home has increased the requirement for hygienically packed ingredients.”

Shiv Kumar Gupta with one of two new blown films lines from W&H commissioned in January 2019. Gupta has run the plant hands-on with his loyal team of employees during the lockdown

Gupta made firm commitments to food, milk, oil brand owners, and processors to help keep their lines running by supplying packaging material on an all-India basis. “Handling a crisis such as the current one requires strong hands-on management. . . I am in the factory with my team, and this is one reason why we have taken up the responsibility. We have been able to maintain pan-India deliveries of packaging material by talking to the owner-truck drivers and coming to an arrangement with them that includes paying for freight both ways,” he says.

“You have to approach the customers and the suppliers, and I thank them. The suppliers have extended credit, and the customers have made payments on delivery. Artworks have come online, and approvals were given in video-conferences. Brand and special colors have been approved online without the old shade cards, and this only shows that sometimes it takes a crisis to move forward in the use of technology,” Gupta explains.

The optimist succeeds

With more than two decades of experience in the plastics processing industry, Gupta says, “One good thing about plastic in India is that it has grown, it has never shown de-growth,” he says. When we talked to Gupta at the beginning of 2019, he was optimistic about the massive new plant’s prospects for growth and success. He said then that while at every stage, he will establish volumes and confidence in his customers, he was quite sure of eventually reaching the more profitable part of the value chain. At that time, the disruption that was being talked about was of waste management and recyclability. Sustainability, too, was an opportunity, “The waste management rules are disruptions that will help the industry and Vijayneha in its growth.”

Now, after fifteen months in production and able to leverage the automated high-value investments that have catapulted Vijayneha into a major supplier of flexible packaging, Gupta’s plans have the ring of inevitability and not merely optimism. His ideas are increasingly precise and credible. “For the next one and a half years, we will expand the plant,” he says, which reminds me of his plan last year to double its 2,000 tons a month capacity after a year. “Then in the next one and a half years, we will build up our recycling plant,” which reminds me of another project he talked about last year for recycling plastic waste on an industrial scale.

The W&H Heliostar S gravure press in Vijayneha’s huge pressroom. The spacious factory premises built for rapid expansion and the company’s precautions make social distancing much easier

Vijayneha’s greenfield project near Hyderabad

Located about 90-minutes from the city, the plant has top-of-the-line machinery in the film-extrusion, printing, and finishing departments. It houses two printing presses from W&H, a Heliostar S rotogravure press, and a Miraflex A CI flexo press. There are two blown film extrusion lines from W&H as well – a 3-layer and a 7-layer. Along with these, the plant has three slitter rewinders – two ER610s from Atlas-Titan and one Roboslit RL from SP Ultraflex.

Vijayneha employs two Nordmeccanica laminators – a Super Combi 4000 and a Simplex SL compact. It runs a Worldly WCL-H-1300 co-extrusion coating and laminating machine. Apart from the closed-loop systems on the presses, there are extensive quality checking machines and Flexo Wash cylinder, roller, and anilox cleaning machines. There is a vast laboratory for testing materials. The comprehensiveness of the new plant reflects its intention of being world-class in both quality and efficiency.

Vijayneha's finishing section includes a couple of Atlas-Titan ER 610 slitter rewinders and several other pieces of precision equipment
Vijayneha’s finishing section includes a couple of Atlas-Titan ER 610 slitter rewinders and several other pieces of precision equipment

The workforce is key

Gupta said to us last year, “Right from the start, the company management has a very clear vision to go up the value chain. The top-of-the-line equipment puts us on a platform that is way beyond the imagination of current players in the market. We were always going to go for the best. . . However, in the end, it is the workforce that runs the show, and we have made sure we have the best of that as well.”

The owner of Vijayneha has looked after his workforce well during the pandemic crisis with extraordinary arrangements for their safety and welfare, and he is proud that they have taken up the responsibility. “They have come through in keeping the production lines of our many well-known brand owner customers running,” he says.

For Shiv Kumar Gupta, looking after his employees or contributing to social programs in Hyderabad are not new activities. He has looked after his employees well during the lockdown. Many hygiene precautions were already in place when the plant opened in beginning 2019. Social distancing is fairly easy in a plant that was built for the immediate doubling of capacity, and Gupta has gone out of the way by arranging great choice in all employee meals from a nearby hotel. He takes pride as an industrialist in alleviating the obvious inequities in our society. He says, “If we do not do this, and at this juncture, who will?”

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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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