Canpac – an early adopter of new K&B models for Kolkata carton plant

Highly configured RA 106 & RA 105 presses to be commissioned simultaneously

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Cartons produced at Canpac’s plant in Ahmedabad. Photo PSA
Cartons produced at Canpac’s plant in Ahmedabad. Photo PSA

Canpac’s Kolkata plant is likely to be commissioned in early January 2022, with two of the latest K&B RA press models shown at the virtual drupa in October 2021 and at China Print on 24 June 2021 in Beijing. Nilesh Todi firmed up the newest model RA 105 7-color plus coater conventional press – part of a two press order including the RA 106 7-color plus coater, even as it was being shown in Beijing for the first time. Within a week of the China Print show, we spoke to him and Aditya Surana of Indo-Polygraph Machinery (the K&B distributor for India) on a Zoom call.

Canpac’s plan to launch its third plant in Kolkata is ambitious to purchase the two highly configured multicolor presses that won the Red Dot Design and IF Design Awards for their aesthetic design. These are an RA 106 7-color plus coater UV combination press with all the bells and whistles; and an RA 105 6-color plus coater conventional press. The presses are expected to be shipped almost simultaneously before the end of the calendar year. Then, if all goes to plan, they will be commissioned simultaneously for the complete plant going into serial carton production in mid-January 2022.

In addition, the new plant will have a fleet of die-cutters from an unnamed manufacturer and two DGM Smartfold folder gluers capable of running straight-line boxes, crash lock bottom boxes, CD/pocket envelope, angular cartons, potatoes fries, double wall boxes, and four and 6-corner boxes for both solid board and three-ply up to 20-mm folded thickness for E, F, and N-fluted litho laminated cartons. The folder gluers are to arrive in October 2021. A compliment of accessory equipment is also likely to be installed so that the fully-fledged plant is both productive and lean in January 2021 – in other words, from jump street.

The RA 106 7-color plus coater combination UV press was unveiled in the K&B virtual drupa event 2020 and the RA 105 conventional press at the recent Print China show in Beijing. Both have a completely new HMI and software to ease workflow operations, running the machine, and complete data feedback and analytics in real-time.

On the hardware side, the 18,000 sheets an hour RA 106 7-color plus coater press for substrates from 0.04 mm to 1.2mm thickness, has as standard, a sidelay-free Sensoric infeed system, a dynamic sheet brake, pneumatic ink ducts, and a fully automatic plate changer that will change all seven plates in under two minutes. Automation includes simultaneous roller and blanket washing. In addition, it contains the ErgoTronic ACR automatic camera register control and other features for the ergonomic cleaning of the transfer drums.

The RA 105 7-color plus coater conventional press is also a recently unveiled winner of the two design awards for aesthetic machines and has the same new HMI software enhancements. This press also runs 0.06mm to 1.2mm substrates but at 16,000 sheets an hour. It has a similar hardware configuration as far as sheet handling, automation of registration with the ErgoTronic ACR and automated cleaning of rollers, and ease of access to the transfer cylinder as the RA 106 since it is built on the platform concept. Additionally, it contains the VariDry BLUE Energy Saving End of the Press Drying Concept for less energy wastage as the hot air recirculates.

Preeti Todi, director and Nilesh Todi, managing director of Canpac with Aditya Surana of KBA distributor, Indo- Polygraph Machinery. Photo PSA
Preeti Todi, director and Nilesh Todi, managing director of Canpac with Aditya Surana of KBA distributor, Indo- Polygraph Machinery. Photo PSA

The Canpac mission revised by the pandemic and now pan-India

Nilesh Todi has now revised the date of Canpac achieving its Rs. 400 turnover target and says this should happen by March of 2023 if all goes well. He can execute line balancing in Ahmedabad and the Kolkata expansion and on time by January 2022 and reach a high operational level by March 2022. It also implies that he has put the right human resources and management systems in place.

Asked why he bought two of the latest model Koenig & Bauer presses at the same time for a simultaneous start-up of production, Todi explained. “We had first decided in December when the Kolkata expansion was planned as a small plant, but somehow it went bigger, and we are starting with two lines – although the plant is planned for four lines,” he said.

“It doesn’t make sense to buy anything but the newest machines. The first sheet cost has a big gap. Especially for normal jobs and not just the new jobs, we have in Ahmedabad. We were very clear that in Kolkata, we needed high productivity. We will cross the industry standard for the productivity of a single packaging line with one modern multicolor offset press.”

Indo-Polygraph’s Aditya Surana is understandably pleased with the Canpac order because the two presses in the simultaneous order comprise the latest and just unveiled revamped RA 106 and 105 K&B models. “The second machine, the RA 105, was launched at China Print on 24th June, and we are talking on 2nd July,” says Surana.

“We are committed to shipping both machines by November, and, in case we cannot ship them together – certainly within this calendar year. These may turn out to be among the first of these new award-winning designed presses installed in the global market as well. For the first time in K&B, and perhaps since 1999, the machine’s aesthetics have been redesigned for a company used to winning awards for its mechanical and automation innovations such as its grippers, stream feeders, and quality monitoring systems. The presses were supposed to be launched at drupa 2020 and were eventually launched at the virtual drupa and China Print this June.”

Nilesh Todi takes the trouble to explain his view of the EBITDA requirements and operational costs of carton production in the country to service his capital and to grow. “I need an EBITDA of 23% and not merely 13%, which means better productivity and lean management in the Canpac group. We see a 21% converting and operational cost that we have to bring down to 17 or 18%. In Ahmedabad, we have employee costs of 11%, while in Tirupati, our employee costs are lower, and we have to try and bring employee costs down across our plants. Overall we have to fine-tune our lean management, and we can monitor each operation in all the plants using our Microsoft Dynamics Navision ERP system.”

“We are very clear that we have to be very lean in managing our operational costs. When we calculated, we found the K&B presses to be the most productive. We are finding the latest automated machines are also appropriate for our market in helping us be cost-effective. Generally, in a new plant with two multicolor carton presses, the cost of the offset presses is 35%. However, in the case of this new expansion plant, the cost of the presses is a much higher percentage of the total, balanced with a slightly lower cost for converting equipment.”

Canpac aims for Rs 700 crore in 2026

Lean operation, productivity and cost control

When we visited Canpac in April 2018, it was in the course of significant expansion in several areas in its Ahmedabad mother plant and buying its second KBA multicolor carton press to be installed there. The expansion was in several areas –– the plant itself that was to have a new packaging design area, while the flexible packaging with a new Bobst gravure press, a Nordmeccanica laminator and Kalpravux slitter-rewinders were already installed. The owner and driver of the expansion Nilesh Todi talked about the soon to be installed KBA 7-color coater UV press on order, and paper bag making machines lines from Italy and China that had already arrived in the plant and were awaiting installation. The first KBA 7-color coater UV press was already running in its just established Tirupur plant. In addition, he mentioned the purchase of several trucks that the company would use to deliver the various packaging products produced under one roof for each brand owner customer to its doorstep.

Todi’s ideas sound workable, except that most expansion plans in India are linear or serial at best – one thing after another. It is almost impossible to execute or realize several ideas or plans in parallel. The compression of time is every Indian’s dream and even with the appropriate resources the complexity of executing any plan on time is beyond most industrialists – when an expansion or greenfield project is completed on time it is something that they are rightfully boastful about.

Canpac’s ambition of reaching a turnover of Rs 400 crore on the back of five multicolor carton presses in two locations has not really arrived on its estimated schedule of three years. But the execution has been relatively neat considering the competitive influx of carton presses and converting equipment, the flattening of the economy and finally, the Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns. The completion of the Ahmedabad building, the expansion of the carton, flexible packaging, paper carry bag, design and trucking operations have more or less happened. Moreover, there has been an infusion of capital by JM Financial a private investment firm and growth fund to the tune of Rs 60 crore for a minority stake in the company. This was primarily to establish certain SOPs and leverage quality human resources – this program has been slightly delayed by the pandemic slowdowns.

Rs. 400 target is now postponed to, “2022-23 – 75% in folding carton but at right time we will grow the other business,” according to Canpac’s managing director Nilesh Todi. He explains, “The new machines should produce about Rs. 45 crore or more, ideally.” He adds that the higher numbers include some of the nominal inflation in the industry particularly in raw material prices. “Last year’s growth and business development was disrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic and its lockdowns. The Rs. 700 crore turnover target is for 2026 now – a delay of one 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.

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