Shardul Sharma with inputs from Naresh Khanna
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. The chief guest for the event was Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary to the government of Telangana, who cut the ribbon. The plant has been in operation since October 2018.
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. W&H has supplied a 3-layer blown film extrusion line and a 7-layer blown film extrusion line as well. Along with these, the plant has three slitter rewinders: two ER610s from Atlas-Titan and one Roboslit RL from SP Ultraflex. Vijayneha employs two laminators from Nordmeccanica – a Super Combi 4000 laminator and a Simplex SL compact laminator. A Worldly WCL-H-1300 co-extrusion coating and laminating machine is also installed in the plant.
It is the completeness or comprehensiveness of the new plant that reveals its intention of being totally world class. Apart from the closed loop systems on the presses, there are extensive quality checking machines and a large laboratory for testing materials. A complete and separate room houses a complete set of automated equipment for cleaning and maintaining cylinders, plates and anilox rollers. The anilox cleaner, plate washer, automatic cylinder cleaner, parts washer and distillation unit are all from Flexo Wash. The company is planning to have an in-house cylinder-making division but has no plans for an in-house flexo plate making division.
The promoter and managing director of Vijayneha Polymers, Shiv Kumar Gupta has more than two decades of experience in the plastic processing industry. “One good thing about plastic in India is that it has growth, it has never shown de-growth,” he says.
Gupta is optimistic about the new plant’s prospects for growth and success. He believes that any brand owner who visits new plant will appreciate both its actuality and its intention. Acknowledging that at this stage he will be establishing volumes and confidence in his customers, he is quite sure of eventually reaching that part of the value chain that will be more profitable. He believes that various regulations including the waste management rules are disruptions that will help the industry and Vijayneha in its growth. He is emphatic that apart from technology the right manpower is essential. “We have the best!” he says.
He says that the company is already working with several brand owners in the development of sustainable packaging under non-disclosure agreements. In addition, Gupta has several serious and interesting plans for recycling of plastic waste on an industrial scale.
Many of Gupta’s ideas are echoed by Kaushik Nag director and chief executive officer of Vijayneha Polymers, “Right from the start, the company management has a very clear vision to go up the value chain. These top-of-the-line equipment put us on a platform which is way beyond the imagination of current players in the market. We were always going to go for the best.” Nag also says that Vijayneha has not only worked on getting the best hardware but has invested equally in getting best human capital from all across the flexible packaging industry. “In the end it is the workforce that runs the show and we have made sure we have the best of that as well,” he states.
Amongst the extensive top-of-the-line machinery and ancillary equipment that the company has installed at the plant, W&H extrusion lines and presses are the centrepieces. Talking about the partnership with W&H, Nag says, “In the current market that is rife with competition, the best way to stay ahead is to invest in technology that gives you an edge — technology that helps you in achieving the desired output with minimal wastage and maximum consistency. I feel W&H offers all these.”
Doubling capacity by 2020
To start with, the new plant will have an installed capacity of 2,000 tons per month and is expected to operate at 80%-85% capacity. According to Nag, the capacity of the plant will be increased by another 2,000 tons per month by 2020. “The next phase of the expansion will see a similar kind of investment in machinery and technology, a replica of sorts of what we have today,” he shares.
In terms of customers, Vijayneha will be servicing mostly those customers who have high volumes such as big domestic and global brands. About 70% of the output will be supplied domestically and 30% will be exported, mainly to Europe and North America. “The bulk of our clients will be those with large volumes as you need to justify this level of investment and scale by dealing in big volumes,” he argues.
Sustainability and CI flexo
In recent years, more and more of the leading flexible packaging convertors have opted for flexo printing technology. Vijayneha too has gone in for a CI flexo press along with a gravure press. Nag says that the idea behind having these two printing technologies under one roof was to make sure that Vijayneha is able to service all types of customer demands right from the start. The intention is also to be capable of producing high quality PE/PE laminates and packaging suitable for salt, pulses and dry goods that are easier to recycle. Right from the beginning, the new plant only uses non-toluene and non-MEK inks.
“The gravure press will be used for printing flexible packaging materials that will be used to pack solid items such as biscuits and wafers while the CI flexo press will be used to print material used in packaging liquid items such as edible oils and milk,” he says. Nag believes that the footprint of flexo presses will continue to expand in India thanks to significant improvements in the prepress, press, inks and anilox technologies. “I am sure that that CI flexo technology will play a much bigger role in the Indian flexible packaging industry in coming years,” he concludes.