ABB at Paperex 2019 

Increasing demand for packaging papers

Paperex Chennai postponed to 8 – 10 April 2021
Thomas Tegnerud, service manager, Lorentzen & Wettre Products, Pupl & Paper Solutions, ABB, Per Sandstrom, manager Lorentzen & Wettre, ABB, Klara Martens Ekblad, global sales manager for Lorentzen & Wettre Products, ABB and Manoj Sukumaran, area sales manager, L&W Products, Process Industries, Industrial Automation Divison, ABB with L&W Autoline quality management system. Photo IPP

Indian paper mills TNPL, Century Pulp and Paper, JK Papers, Trident, ITC, and Ballarpur Industries use ABB automation and digitalization solutions. Currently, the company’s global pulp and paper product group is part of the Industrial Automation division, which is second in the market globally.

“ABB provides automation and quality control systems for electrification, industrial automation, motion, and robotics and discrete automation. We have a good share of the paper market in India, and most of the major mills use ABB solutions,” said Per Sandstrom, manager of Lorentzen and Wettre, ABB.

The Europe-based company displayed its L&W Autoline quality management system at Paperex 2019, in Pragati Maidan. The Autoline is a laboratory system that automates and digitalizes the entire paper quality controls, improves efficiency and optimizes production in a paper and board mill. It provides fast and reliable quality information on up to seven paper machines in a 27×7 operation.

Explaining ABB’s solutions for the paper industry further, Manoj Sukumaran, area sales manager ‒ L&W Products, Process Industries, Industrial Automation Division, ABB, said, “For the paper industry, we have automation products and quality control systems for pulping and papermaking. We have manufacturing units in Faridabad for motors and instrumentation, in Nashik for MV Switchgear and distribution solutions, and in Bengaluru for main works and robotics. Apart from that, we have facilities around the world in different countries, for example, laboratory instruments and R&D, in Ireland.”

From printing paper to packaging paper

Talking about the market in India, Sandstrom said, “From my perspective, there are more paper mills in India than in Europe. The Indian market is very diverse, and there is an amalgamation of big and small paper mills. Whereas in Europe, there is a reduction of smaller mills, hence fewer customers.”

When asked about the situation of paper imports in India, Sandstrom said that he does not see a slowdown in the Indian paper industry. Paper mills are still up and running, and there is always a massive demand for paper. However, it may be true that imported paper could affect the consumption of locally produced paper.

Klara Martens Ekblad, global sales manager for Lorentzen and Wettre products, ABB, added to this point, “What we observed was that there seems to be an increase in the demand for packaging paper. The talk about plastic ban and the rising culture of eCommerce, paper packaging, is now becoming a global trend. India is one such market where the demand for paper packaging is increasing.”

The problem of waste paper recollection in India

Sandstrom added that the paper mills in Europe are shifting to recycled fiber as a substitute for plastic in packaging. “There is a lot of pressure towards adopting sustainable packaging, and fiber is one of the solutions as a renewable and recyclable material. What I would like to see is how that process comes to India because paper plants in Europe are already investing in these solutions. They are quite ahead in this regard. They have a method of recycling every set of fiber multiple times so that there is a limited amount of virgin fiber used,” he said.

Sukumaran argues that the Indian market is already evolving. The demand for paper packaging is increasing, and the smaller mills are shutting down, similar to Europe. The medium-sized mills are upgrading because it makes more economic sense to do that. There is a growing demand for fiber since recycled paper is coming up in a big way. “But the problem in India is that we don’t have a good system to collect waste paper. We are dependent on the municipality to do that, but there is no functional system in place. Once that comes into place, I am sure it will be much better. Right now, we are importing recycled paper while India is such a big market for recycled paper. Collection happens in certain pockets of the country, but it is not an organized sector. So you don’t have a good source of getting waste paper for recycling,” he concluded.

With the paper industry diversifying into producing paper packaging, the demand for ABB’s packaging solution is growing. “Our customers invest a lot of capital in their business; we are not focused on sales but helping our customers optimize their production line and to make the best use of their investments,” Ekblad explained.

“With more and more companies diversifying into packaging, we are planning expansion in our quality control and inspection systems for packaging. That is where we see a business opportunity,” Sandstrom highlighted.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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