The first quarter of the 2015-16 financial year is over and while consumer product company results are mixed – with the wished for ‘good days’ not yet here, investments and installations continue. Even without huge profits, our industry’s entrepreneurs have great belief in the India story and the larger ones see themselves as low cost producers globally in the manufacture of films, cylinders and packaging materials. They are supported by a healthy set of press, converting, filling and sealing manufacturers and to some extent by the local raw material polymer and masterbatch suppliers.
The current financial year to 31 March 2016 will see a good number of both gravure and flexo presses from the leading global suppliers. On the gravure side the Indian suppliers including Expert, Kohli, Pelican and Uflex will also play a significant part in high-speed presses. For high-speed gravure presses that can print on 20 micron films many of the automation components are now manufactured or distributed and supported locally and it is possible for these organized manufacturers to compete with the European and even the Chinese manufacturers.
Out of the 25 to 30 gravure presses likely to be installed in the current financial year, European high-speed gravure presses will likely have a 33% market share – 8 to 10 presses. These installs will be dominated by Bobst’s Rotomec brand and apart from several of its very high-end presses there is likely to be good traction for the second generation shaftless Rotomec 5002. As we find more and sensitivity to the needs and demands of emerging markets, this press is designed to be a workhorse for markets such as the South Asian countries. Bangladesh is gaining traction as a particularly strong packaging market.
A conservative guesstimate on the basis of speaking with several industry insiders and customers reveals that anywhere from six to eight wide web CI flexo presses are likely to be installed in the current financial year to 31 March 2016 in India. This approximate number includes four to six brand new presses from the European manufacturers such as Bobst-F&K, Comexi, Soma and W&H. In addition possibly one or two second-hand European presses that will be imported and installed. Another three or four CI wide web flexo presses sourced from China and Taiwan will also be installed in the period.
The organized monocarton industry continues to grow with at least half a dozen installs in the current financial year that are actually deliveries of last year’s sales – delayed partially by plant construction and shipments. There seems to be an industrial revival in Eastern India with several packaging presses installed in the past year including TCPL, Nexgen and York. One of the new players in that region is Kolkata-based Exquisite Print and Pack which has ordered a KBA Rapida 105 full UV 7-color plus coater combination press.
North India continues to grow with Haridwar and Delhi-NCR carton producers adding high configuration presses. In addition to last year’s KBA sales that are being installed this year at TCPL and ITC at their Haridwar plants, Nutech Packaging’s Heidelberg press at its new LEED certified green plant at Greater Noida is awaiting full commissioning. PR Packaging at Palwal in the Delhi NCR has ordered a Heidelberg 7-color plus coater full UV combination press to be installed in the current financial year. Komori will also install at least two packaging presses in the current financial year including one at International Print-OPac’s plant in Noida and another at Award Packaging’s new plant near Mumbai in Western India.
A discernible trend in the monocarton industry is the preference for highly configured 7-color plus coater UV presses. Overall, a conservative or practical estimate is that a dozen packaging presses comprising at least 6-color plus coater and most with full interdeck and end-of-line UV curing. systems will be installed by 31 March 2015. This will also be the year in which converters, packaging designers and buyers learn and demonstrate the capabilities of in-line foiling in the Indian context.
The Indian label industry with its large footprint of narrow web flexo presses added significant capacity last year with higher configuration short path servo presses gaining good traction. As we have written earlier, Gallus has put in its ECS press at the Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre in Bengaluru which has trained several batches of print diploma holders rather than wait for converters to make up their mind to send their current operators for training.
The industry seems to have survived a phase of hyper-competition and top line growth at the cost of sustainable profits and is looking at the upcoming Labelexpo in Brussels. Labelexpo will likely attract huge attendance from Indian and South Asian converters and is likely to feature new presses from players such as Soma and Mark Andy as well as a spate of digital presses. The lead up to Labelexpo is taking place in Jaipur with the always interesting and very social LMAI conference that is held every two years.