When Packaging South Asia visited Nichrome India’s Shirwal plant about 55 km from Pune at the end of March, it was bustling with activity. There were customers visiting, machine trials taking place on the shop floor and finished machines waiting to be dispatched. Nichrome, India’s leading form fill and seal (FFS) solutions provider, has had a very good last one year as the company launched some successful new and upgraded products and
at the same time made significant breakthroughs in some new markets overseas.
The Shirwal plant is spread over 12 acres and has two shop floors, one of which deals in standard products and the other in specialized ones. Currently, the plant has the capacity to produce 500 machines per year. Operating at an impressive 80% of the capacity in recent years, the plant produces about 400 machines annually. “The Shirwal plant has enough area that we can nearly double our manufacturing capacity if we want to,” says Mrunal Joshi, executive director, Nichrome India. The company has another plot about 20 km from the Shirwal plant, which can also be used for future expansion.
In recent years, the Pune-based company has focused on lean manufacturing processes and has implemented a comprehensive ERP system which, according to Joshi, has smoothened out many pain points and increased the speed of delivery.
Impressive array of launches
Nichrome’s portfolio of FFS machines was already impressive with an array of solutions for packing items such as snacks, ready-to-eat food, milk, edible oil, coffee and sugar, to name just a few. The company has India’s leading brands as its customers. In the last one year, the company has further added weight to its catalog by offering high-speed machines for packing milk, granular products, coffee and tea.
One of the highlights has been the Filpack Servo 12k milk packaging machine, which was launched at the India International Dairy Expo held in Mumbai recently. The machine is an improvement over the Filpack Servo 10k in terms of speed. The Filpack Servo 12k has a speed of 12,000 packs per hour while Filpack Servo 10k produces 10,000 packs per hour. Nichrome worked closely with Dow Specialty plastics for a year during the development phase of Filpack Servo 12k as it requires special film to pack milk to achieve this high speed. The special film requires less heat to seal and reduces leakages considerably. The machine can also be used to pack flavored milk, juice, lassi and mineral water.
Another important launch has been Maxima 200/400 with servo auger, the twin tube vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) machine. The Maxima 200 has a speed of 200 packs per minute (ppm) while Maxima 400 has speed of 400 ppm. The Maxima can be used to pack powder, spices, dairy whiteners, pre-mix powders, etc. For both Maxima 200 and 400, the pack volume range is from 25 cc to 550 cc. “The speed offered by Maxima is among the fastest in its category,” says Raosaheb Rayanade, senior consultant – packaging solutions, Nichrome India.
Both Filpack Servo 12k and Maxima 200/400 have been developed keeping in mind customers dealing in large volumes.
The third product launched is Multilane Stickpack with multihead servo auger. The machine helps in packing items such as milk powder, coffee powder, tea and coffee premix, etc. in centre seal stickpack format. The machine offers 4, 5, 6 and 10 lanes (depending on stick width). The capacity of the machine is 35 packs per lane. It handles packaging materials such as heat sealable laminate films like polyester, metalized polyester or aluminum foil, etc. In case of free flow products like sugar or granular items, Multilane Stickpack with volumetric cup filler option is available. These solutions are primarily aimed at the hospitality industry, which is a very high growth area in India.
A new product for packing food items like chips and biscuits, the Sprint 250 Continuous will be launched next month at PackPlus South. The machine can pack 120 packs per minute.
Apart from having its own portfolio of machines, Nichrome also has tie-ups with foreign firms. It tied up with Prodo-Pak of US to manufacture multi lane high-speed sachet packing machines. The company also entered into an agreement with TOTPACK of Spain to manufacture the horizontal form fill and seal (HFFS) machines. In addition, Nichrome has a tie-up with Tecnovac of Italy to offer tray sealing machines. “All these collaborations have been very successful for Nichrome. We were able to enter new areas. For example, the TOTPACK collaboration helped us in entering the pharma sector,” says Joshi.
Increasing the global footprint
Exports make up about 25% of Nichrome’s business and remains an area of growth. In the last one year, the company successfully entered new markets such as Mauritania and South Africa. Ukraine has been an important market for the company when it comes to food packaging but Nichrome acquired its first customer in the country in pharmaceutical packaging. A big breakthrough for the company was when it exported its HFFS machine to France. “All these developments give us a lot of confidence about our growth in the global market,” says Joshi.
Interpack as visitors
Although Nichrome participated in interpack 2014 as an exhibitor, this year it is going as a visitor. The company has decided to change its strategy and instead would focus on using the budget to meet more overseas customers at their locations. Also, it wants to participate more in specialized overseas exhibitions and fairs that focus on specific industry verticals.
“Participating in interpack requires a lot of resources. Instead, we are using those resources to try different strategies,” explains Joshi.