Parakh Agro’s vision is amply evident in a visit to its flexible packaging plant an hour’s drive from Pune city. The 10-acre plant sits along with the group’s food processing plant within a 22-acre facility. During Packaging South Asia’s most recent visit in mid-April 2016 construction work for the recent expansion and modernization was in its final finishing phase. Shardul Sharma reports
Parakh’s renewed state-of-the-art infrastructure has the ability to rapidly ramp up production capacity up to 24,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) within the existing built-up area from the current installed capacity of 7,000 TPA. The constructed area and infrastructure is highly scalable – it can accommodate another 6 blown film lines and 5 more printing lines in addition to the three that are now already in place.
Parakh’s flexible packaging division began this infrastructure and human resource expansion more than a year ago.
There are three main highlights as far as the hardware a Bobst F&K 10-color high-speed CI flexo press with a speed of 500 metres a minute; a Super Combi 3000 laminator from Nordmeccanica with a speed of 400 metres a minute and a Roboslit RL auto turret slitting machine from SP Ultrafex with a speed of 650 metres a minute.
“The growth we desire could not be realized with the printing capacity we had as catering to the top customers with high quality and high volume demands was becoming challenging. Quality, cost and delivery turned into a big problem,” says Vinay Nalawade, who heads the flexible packaging division.Before these new additions arrived, the plant already deployed Varex fully automated blown film extrusion lines from Windmoeller & Hoelscher, and high-end 8-color W&H Miraflex and Soloflex CI wide web flexo presses, a Nordmeccanica, an SP Ultraflex 350 metres a minute slitter from SP Ultraflex as well as a Titan slitter-rewinder. In addition it operates a complete in-house prepress department
using Kodax Flexcel NX workflow and digital imaging system for making high quality flexo plates.
Focus on quality and delivery
According to Nalawade, the desire to meet the demands of niche segments has brought about the current investment. The aim is to expand the customer base by penetrating different segments of the flexible packaging industry with an increase in exports also being seen as vitally important. “Achieving these aims was becoming difficult with the capacity constraints we faced, especially in the printing department, which will now be taken care of by the addition of the Bobst F&K press. We can now deal with any type of flexible packaging material and with a greater focus on quality and delivery we can now hope to demand a premium,” Nalawade says with confidence.
Parakh Agro already produces laminates for segments such as baby care, food and confectionery. Its specialty films are for segments such as baby care, dairy, pharma while its commodity films target the edible oil segment. Additionally, the company has acquired technology from Elecster of Finland for the production of original pre-sterilized films.
The project 12k
These investments are expected to translate into results in the 2016-17 financial year. With the new infrastructure and capacity in place, sales are expected to rise from 500 to 600 tonnes a month to 1,000 tonnes a month or 12,000 TPA in the near future.
Parakh’s growth rate is expected to accelerate in comparison to the five-year span between the previous expansion in 2010 and the current investment phase beginning in 2015 and early 2016. Nalawade is persuasively optimistic, “We now have the right team in place which is ready and we have a much bigger customer base which has trust in us. As we expect to grow faster, our next investment phase should not take another five years but maybe after just three years.”
Not only is the next investment cycle expected to start earlier than previous expansion cycles, the nature of the expansion is also expected to qualitatively change – with Parakh Agro focussing on the environment and the green aspect of packaging production. Low energy consumption and recyclability are things are of prime importance to Parakh and going forward these desirable qualities will be translated into practical and measurable attributes of the packaging materials that it produces. Additionally, the plan is to enter extremely underexploited packaging segments in India which have great potential such as paper packaging.