Into packaging and labels with a bang

EIH press in Manesar

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the EIH press did have equipment for packaging but what it has set up in Manesar for the labels and board packaging segment is again (as for commercial and digital printing) an unprecedented collection of technologies and equipment in a single plant. It catapults EIH into the top rung of packaging units in terms of modern integrated and end-to-end capabilities. However
Even in its earlier incarnation in Delhi, the EIH press did have equipment for packaging but what it has set up in Manesar for the labels and board packaging segment is again (as for commercial and digital printing) an unprecedented collection of technologies and equipment in a single plant. It catapults EIH into the top rung of packaging units in terms of modern integrated and end-to-end capabilities. However, it will take a bit of time for this capacity to be fully leveraged into profitability.
EIH always had mid web offset presses and also Heidelberg multicolour presses including a 6-colour plus coater. However the mid webs were generally used for computer stationery. Label production in Manesar has got off to a strong start with a fully automated 8-colour Gallus narrow web label press. As it grows in stature as a label supplier, additional label presses will have to be added. This is one way to rationalise the huge investments that the EIH Manesar plant has made in specialty prepress and finishing and postpress equipment.

EIH has been an EskoArtwork software and CtP user for many years, but at the new plant it has installed prepress and die-making hardware that is normally outsourced. This is in keeping with the project’s attempts to bring end-to-end solutions within the plant for greater security, quality, and productivity.

There is an upgrade to Esko’s full Suite 7 software at EIH and also its integration with a DuPont CDI flexo imager and CYRELfast system that allows the unit to make top quality flexo plates within an hour. This reflects the new trend to bring captive flexo imagers inside label and packaging plants in the country.

Moreover, for the converting process, EIH has acquired and installed complete in-house die-making capabilities. At EIH Manesar, Esko’s structural design and packaging prepress software drives several types of digital output — flexo plates using the CDI Spark digital imager with CYRELfast processing, and offset plates (using Esko and Screen CtPs). In addition, Esko’s structural design software drives the SEI laser device for producing die-boards that are embedded with cutting and creasing rules that are automatically cut, bent and nicked using automated equipment from Unica.

We do not know of any other plant in the country with this level of structural design, prepress, imaging and die-making capability. It seems like a luxury but, if EIH grows and is able to serve a combination of printed and converted products to major consumer product companies, this one-stop shop for commercial, digital printing and labels and packaging, could gain traction.
For printing and converting of labels there is the aforementioned 8-colour Gallus EM 410S with finishing stations for foiling, rotary screenprinting and rotary die-cutting. EIH uses it for paper and film label production including shrink labels. For offline label converting and products such as beer labels, there is a Buhrs punch cutter that is also used for the production of telephone scratch cards.

For board packaging there is a battery of Heidelberg multicolour presses from the older plant including a 6-colour plus coater that have been moved to Manesar. The new Heidelberg’s at Manesar include a 5-colour plus coater CD 102 and a 6-colour plus coater CD-102 full UV press. The full interdeck UV curing and end of press UV curing on this press, (which we call the “dreamliner” configuration), is meant for printing luxury-packaging products on plastics as well as metallised board such as FMCG goods and cosmetics.
For finishing and special applications the plant has an automated Steinneman HIBIS rotary silkscreen UV printer. For converting board packaging EIH has added brand new equipment from Bobst — a Speria 106E autoplaten die-cutter and a Fuego 80 folder gluer. In fact as a rule, EIH press does not buy any second hand equipment.

R Shankar, the Chief Operating Officer of the EIH press is quite frank about being a beginner of sorts in the label and packaging segments. In the earlier establishment there was some packaging and POP production but not with the kind of equipment that could immediately turn the company into a leading player. Even now at the new plant, the product mix is heavily weighted in favour of commercial and digital printing, with labels and packaging making up as little as 10% to 15% of the product mix. However, with the large capacity that EIH has put in place in these segments they are likely to grow to 50% of the expanded turnover within two years.

While present capacities can most likely increase turnover anywhere from 85% to 100%, Shankar prefers to conservatively estimate that this will take another two years. It could take as long as the 2011-12 financial for the EIH Manesar plant to break even. Moreover in this time, another plant could be built to house both a heatset web for commercial printing and a high volume web fed packaging press. And other packaging equipment as well!

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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