Bobst’s 125th anniversary

Automation the key to competitiveness

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L-R: Somashekara NT, managersales; and Venugoppal Nair, vicepresident of Bobst India
L-R: Somashekara NT, manager sales; and Venugoppal Nair, vice president of Bobst India

On 18 December 2015, Bobst celebrated its 125th anniversary along with the customer meet at Hotel My Fortune in Bengaluru. Venugopal Menon, president – sales for the business sheetfed unit at Bobst India, welcomed the visitors and gave a presentation en-titled “What drives competitiveness?Low investment or better efficiency?’’

Menon presented the trends and statistics of the folding carton industry and highlighted the litho laminated cartons which are anticipated to grow globally from US$ 87 billion in 2014 to US$ 105billion by 2020. Majority of the growth is expected from food and healthcare other than confectionery and liquor segments. According to the latest Smithers Pira report, the per captia spend on packaging in India is US$ 3.2 dollar per annum as compared to US$ 13 per annum in China, US$ 2.3 per annum in Africa and US$ 50 per annum in Japan.Currently the paperboard production is2.5 million metric tonnes and is expect-ed to grow to 3.4 million metric tonnes by 2020. With 35% share lead by the food and healthcare division the consumption should grow from its current US$3.8 billion to US$ 5.6 billion by 2020.

Addressing the need for automation to remain competitive and cost efficient, Menon said, “When the decision involves high value capital, a buyer al-ways thinks whether he can afford it or if it is a viable option. Price is always a precursor but more than price, the decision has to be weighed in terms of cost per unit of production from a specific equipment and its ROI. With the increase invariable cost in terms of labour, there is a need to move to automation which offers better productivity and faster turn-around of orders.” It was also interesting for the audience to discover that the cost of diecutting per unit from multiple, cheaper hand platens actually turns out to be much more, when compared to an out-put from a highly productive diecutter, which Menon illustrated by the dcf method. The discussion towards the end became very interactive with the audience wanting to know more on howto judge if an investment made sense,given the volume and production costs.

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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– Naresh Khanna

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