Ahmedabad-based Shilp Gravure is one of India’s leading packaging pre-press solution providers. It produces engraved gravure rollers and photopolymer plates for flexo printing for the narrow-web and wide-web segments of the flexible packaging and label industry. Shilp has been an innovator and is always on the lookout for new things to try in order to keep the operations of the company efficient. Since power is a very significant cost component in the overall scheme of things, saving on that front will automatically impact the cost incurred by the company. Keeping this in mind, Shilp is embarking on a project to set up a solar power system at its plant.
“We will soon commence the solar power project with installations of solar panels on the roof of our factory. The power will be for internal consumption and whatever is surplus, if any, will be supplied to the Gujarat state power grid. Our state receives bright sunshine for almost 10 months of the year, so this makes sense. Power is about 7-8% of our total cost, which is very significant and any saving on that front is a welcome step,” says Ambar Patel, managing director of Shilp Gravure.
Reliance on renewable power is not something new for the company. It is already generating power using wind turbines. This power is supplied to the Gujarat state power grid and the same amount of power is provided by the state grid to its Ahmedabad manufacturing unit.
“The wind mills are located near the coastal parts of the state and the power that is produced is supplied to the gird. The grid in turn supplies an equivalent amount of power to our factory near Ahmedabad. This is a kind of a swap deal. We as a corporate are doing our best to promote renewable energy sources,” informs Patel.
Sitting on sufficient capacity for the near term
Since the focus for next year or so will be on the proposed solar power project, any major investment in machinery in its gravure rollers and flexo plate-making segments is not on the anvil. The company has anyway invested in upgrading the plant and machinery in the last one-and-a-half years and holds sufficient capacity for the near future. The company commissioned India’s first Kodak Flexcel NX Wide 5080 system in February last year. The platesetter can handle a maximum plate size of 50 x 80 inch and boasts of a maximum imaging rate of 12.5 sq/m per hour.
“We went for the Kodak Flexcel NX Wide 5080 system of 50 x 80-inch size be- cause our customers demanded so. The market wanted bigger sized plates and therefore it was time for us to invest in such a system,” says Patel.
Shilp entered into the flexo prepress business almost a decade ago by acquiring a flexo trade shop. The company’s flexo plate making business is now driven by two parallel lines – one by the latest Kodak system and other by Esko. Shilp installed the Esko CDI 4260 digital flexo imager and a Degraf 405 DW plate processor when it started the flexo business.
Not only has Shilp invested in its flexo business, it has also made some big investments in its gravure roller making businesses by bringing in two new engraving machines.
“We bought two cylinder engraving machines from Ohio last year. Now we have a total of 20 engraving machine at our plant. With these investments we have sufficient capacity in both roller and plate making divisions,” informs Patel.
With sufficient capacity at hand, Shilp is also looking to strengthen its presence in eastern India market, Patel adds.
Growth visible but near-term challenges remain
Patel agrees that in the last ten years the Indian packaging industry has seen tremendous growth, which is expected to continue in the long-term as well but the issue of plastic waste management and the confusion and uncertainty regarding the policy surrounding it is creating some hurdles in the short term.
“The confusion regarding the plastic waste management is not only hurting the brand owners but also the converters. Shilp has been doing its part in talking to the Gujarat industry body. Our industry association will soon meet the relevant authorities in Delhi to present the case. I hope with the new government in office clarity should emerge,” he concludes.