At the W&H stand at Plastindia 2018 exhibition in Gandhinagar, Packaging South Asia’s editor Naresh Khanna took advantage of the opportunity to interview Peter Steinbeck, managing director of Windmöller & Hölscher.
Packaging South Asia: Peter please tell us a bit more about automation in flexible packaging and printing, highlighting the prospect of Industry 4.0.
Peter Steinbeck: When we speak of comparison between Industry 3.0 and 4.0, the machines work on artificial intelligence and suggest the next action in line based on predictive algorithms and experience, i.e. machine learning. This intelligent behavior of the machine evolves further around the data analyzed by the machine and its ancillaries.
As for cloud services, this is a forward leap in machine automation. As realistic as it gets, both cloud and machines are expected to grow intelligent and offer accurate solutions. In
future, the customers will participate, share data and enjoy benefits of data locally.
Uniquely for W&H, automation 4.0 allows us to reap greater information from our end-to-end solution. For instance, information and solutions derived from extrusion machine aids
to improvise in not only extrusion but printing, converting and other processes down the line.
PSA: Some of the new gravure presses that you sold recently in the Indian market are capable of running at 500 meters a minute. What are the implications of this in terms of productivity and automation? Will the customers go for higher speeds like 500 and 600 meters a minute?
Peter Steinbeck: We at Windmöller & Hölscher are concerned not only about the mechanical speed, but lay emphasis on best-in-class print quality and time-bound output. Our preference is creating an optimum machinethat is the gold standard in speed, print quality and time-bound output.
There is a lot of discussion highlighting high speed, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to high quality output as well as premium quality. Even developed markets like the US and Europe give prior preference to quality, minimal changeover time, machine intelligence and lower scrap volumes. The discussion is coming full circle.
We are very successful with high-speed equipment worldwide and regularly delivering machines in the 500 meter a minute range. A big set of market still demands machines which are not so high on speed but focussing on fast changeovers, very high-quality prints and high level of intelligence in the machine with minimal wastage.
In gravure, we have put huge effort to ensure easier and faster changeover. Using minimalistic design and removing unnecessary parts, we crafted a cylinder cart in Heliostar – making it faster and smoother. Keep in mind that we have an entire range of gravure machines sharing this technology. More and more customers are appreciating and accepting this new ease-of-operation and faster changeover benefits.
As for the gravure growth, there is a strong gravure base in the country. Asia is gravure-dominant but flexo is gaining popularity simultaneously. The future holds promise for both gravure and flexo. It is for the user to decide and both the technologies have their own promising position.
PSA: What are your thoughts on several Indian manufacturers coming up with CI flexo presses? Will thecost of CI flexo come down? And there is a development of digitally engraved flexo sleeves being produced locally as well.
Peter Steinbeck: As for new entrants in CI flexo manufacturing, we are happy
for every new participant in the market. In future, we will have a better platform
for discussion with the customer, as to what differentiates every machine in the
market and it would also help in increasing the knowledge levels in the industry.
However, a few machines most talked about are gear driven and if you wish
to run thinner films, you need truly precise systems, driven intelligently. Nevertheless, we will have more and more people understand flexo better, offer more
training and enable people to learn about CI flexo on local machines. Overall, the
increasing Flexo infrastructure is promising for us. Everybody certainly deserves
marketplace and it expedites technology development.
We have also seen this in other markets. In Brazil, there were a lot of flexo
presses when we entered at an early stage. There was abundant knowledge of
flexo presses and people migrated to higher technology immediately. So, from
our previous experience we continue to be confident in both the industry and its
people, as well our technology.
PSA: You are having a lot of success with your woven sacks machine in cement business in this country.Would you like to comment?
Peter Steinbeck: A big driver is the environment, to not lose the product which
is lost through packaging which is not efficient or state-of-the-art. We believe
our solutions (hot air sealed woven sacks, multiwall papersacks) can support the
improvement of complete supply chain operations with the possibility of filling
and packaging with material savings. The cement industry has welcomed solutions offered by us and market estimates suggest that almost 15-20 % of cement
in India is packed in the hot air sealed block bottom woven sacks.
PSA: How do you see the growth of the W&H team in India?
Peter Steinbeck: We truly believe in the Indian market. We began with just one
person and today we have 70 in our family. We are looking for a bigger workspace.
Both our engineering strength and management strength continue to expand.
Many Indians are active in our Corporate Group in all types of roles, of which we
are highly proud. Lets just say we are here and are growing stronger. At the end
of the day, it is all about people and we are very happy with our people. Looking
forward, the future is software-based intelligence and our Indian colleagues are
very good at it