Puneet Agarwal (L) with Vinod Kumar Garg and team at Hash Packaging's plant, Jaipur. Photo PSA

Harsh Packaging, a Jaipur-based corrugated packaging manufacturer, has forayed into folding cartons by installing a Technocut 1050 automatic die cutter and a TechnoFold 1100PC automatic folder gluer from DGM India. Situated in the RIICO industrial area of Jaipur, Harsh Packaging is modernizing its folding carton plant with three floors of production space.

Packaging South Asia recently visited the plant, where we learned about the company’s humble beginnings from Vinod Kumar Garg, its managing director. Sompraksh Garg, CEO (Vinod’s father), started the business in partnership in 2006 and later ventured as a sole proprietor of the corrugated business in 2010 with manual converting machines. The company gradually grew capacity and expanded its market share in a rented space and is now counted among the more well-established packaging manufacturers of Rajasthan.

Bought in 2017, the carton plant hosts both the automatic folder gluer and die-cutter machines from DGM. Photo PSA

According to Garg, the company has two corrugated manual plants in RIICO and Manda. The plant Packaging South Asia visited, formerly used for corrugated business, was being refurbished for folding cartons. The plant, bought in 2017, hosts both the automatic folder gluer and die-cutter machines from DGM. The majority of Harsh Packaging’s business is from Rajasthan and Gujarat.

I joined in 2006, and at that time I had no clue how a box is supposed to be made. I would often observe the production procedures and gradually learned most of what I should know in this business — from procurement to production. When I took charge, the industry had grown quite competitive with a strong emphasis on automation.”

Garg says production technologies, automated efficiencies, and the number of players has increased significantly in India. “Our foray into folding cartons is also a foray into automation. We believe a multi-aspect view is needed to survive and thrive in the market. Production speed, quality management, and sustainability are the key driving forces of growth.”

Handcrafted customized packaging products are a specialty of Harsh Packaging, “Our portfolio of customized products manufactured manually has a good demand but the volumes are low. They are a source of recurring business. Our foray into automation was late due to the focus on customized products. Not many machines have configurations to make custom products. But now as we grow in folding cartons, we are optimistic about increasing our market share and products,” Garg adds.

Harsh Packaging also has a Koenig & Bauer 4-color press, a Heidelberg 6-color with coater, a 5-ply flute laminator from Ample Graphics, and a 5-ply automatic electric board line. According to Garg, earlier manufacturers would add capacity only if the demand increased but things have changed. Now, manufacturers add capacity beforehand to remain relevant.

Customers now have more options and in such a competitive scenario, adding capacity after the order arrives is simply a waste of time. By the time a manufacturer added a machine, the competitor would have completed the order. The customer now cares about the overall infrastructure of a manufacturer to determine if the delivery can be done in time. The industry is focused on quality and timely delivery, and we are constantly racing to achieve that,” he said.

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The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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