Esko India sells record Kongsberg tables in 2019

Success attributed to the industry’s digital maturity

L to R: Arnab Maiti, Bharat Godbole and Rafiq Shaikh at the Esko Packaging Excellence Center in Mumbai

The outlook for the Indian packaging and print industry in 2020 is looking a little unsure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst these tough times, the news that Esko had its best-ever year in 2019 in India in terms of its Kongsberg table sales points to the fact that fundamentals of the industry remain strong and long-term growth prospects remain intact.

Last year was a record year for Esko India – the market leader in packaging prepress, signage, and display finishing – as it installed the highest number of Kongsberg creasing, cutting, sampling, and finishing tables in a single year since it became operational in 2011.

According to the company what makes last year’s performance even better is the fact that a substantial number of sales were of its top-of-the-line C Series tables. “We are proud to have achieved success in the sign and display, corrugated, and flexo plate cutting segments,” says Arnab Maiti, country manager South Asia at Esko. “Last year was an outstanding year for us – we have doubled our digital finishing business in India.”

Maiti highlights the main reasons Esko has managed to stay significantly ahead of its competition. “It’s the durability of the machine that gives customers the confidence to go for the purchase,” he said. “Another reason is the increasing number of short-run jobs, which is seeing customers using Esko tables as production machines, not just as sample makers,” he argues.

Esko believes that its seamless ecosystem of design and prepress software and material cutting hardware makes it easy for customers to execute short-run jobs efficiently and quickly. The company’s user-friendly resources add further strength. Service engineers for software and hardware, three application managers for software, and an application manager for hardware mean that after-sales service brings rich experience and quick resolutions for customers.

The company has achieved substantial success in the flexo plate cutting segment, which as per Maiti, is down to the Indian flexo printing industry itself maturing in terms of its needs for automation and productivity.

“For the past five years, we were trying to get a foothold in the flexo plate cutting segment, but traction was slow. Then in the last year, we managed a substantial number of installations in this segment – an exceptional success – as the flexo print industry continues to grow,” he says.

The corrugated box industry, which has seen large-scale modernization with major projects serving retailers and consumers taking off, also saw a high intake of modern machinery and equipment in the past year. “In this segment, we were there with the right solution at the right time, and our global branding together with strong local resources and reach, paid off,” Maiti says.

The success of Esko Packaging Excellence Center

The Esko Packaging Excellence Center, inaugurated in April 2017 in Mumbai, has played an essential role in the success of the company. While the main idea behind setting up the Center was to get close to Esko’s primary market, the city’s industrial and packaging belt actually stretches from Ahmedabad to Goa, and it is also easily accessible to customers from north and south India.

Since Mumbai is a commercial and industrial hub, customers from around the country often come to the Esko Packaging Excellence Center to witness demonstrations of Esko integrated technology solutions. The location makes it easy to test new materials and even execute challenging projects, for example trialing new tooling that they do not yet have on their existing machines.

“It is close to three years since we inaugurated the Esko Packaging Excellence Center and we have benefitted from the amazing response from customers,” said Maiti. “I believe the Center has played an important role in helping us achieve these record sales in the last year.”

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.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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