Aurangabad’s Kedarnath Group ventures into monocartons

Operations powered by Heidelberg and Bobst technology

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Kedarnath
Team BLLPL with the new Novacut 106 3.0

Sanjay Bhatade is a first-generation, self-made entrepreneur who founded the Aurangabad-based Kedarnath Group more than two decades ago. The Kedarnath Group is a specialist packaging solutions provider manufacturing a variety of wooden, corrugated, and steel boxes. Kedarnath Packaging, part of the group, manufactures wooden pallets and wooden boxes while another group company, Vishal Packaging, manufactures corrugated boxes. The group has now diversified into printing and converting paperboard-based folding cartons also known as monocartons through the company Bhatade Logi Lam Pvt Ltd (BLLPL).

“Since we have been in the business of manufacturing various types of boxes, it was natural for us to enter the monocarton segments as a lot of our existing customers required carton packaging. With our entry in this new area, we are now one-stop-shop providing wooden, corrugated, and steel boxes as well as monocartons,” says Bhatade.

Bhatade, who hails from the Ratnagiri region of Maharashtra, believes in having the best technology in his plants. With this philosophy, he opted to start the monocarton operations with state-of-the-art printing and converting equipment.

In the printing section, BLLPL has two Heidelberg presses – a 6-color offset press with UV coater and a pre-owned 2-color press; both of these are pre-owned. In the converting department, the company has a brand new Bobst Novacut 106 3.0 diecutter and a new generation Bobst Ambition 106 A2 folder gluer. BLLPL also has a Polar cutting machine and a corrugation machine for E&F micro-fluted litho-laminated cartons. All of this equipment is housed in a factory unit with a shop floor of 30,000 square feet. The new carton unit is located on a 12-acre piece of land about 20 km from the city of Aurangabad.

L to R: Sanjay Bhatade and Suraj Sharma of Bobst with the new Ambition 106 A2 folder-gluer
L to R: Sanjay Bhatade and Suraj Sharma of Bobst with the new Ambition 106 A2 folder-gluer

Strong Bobst converting section

BLLPL has focused on having a robust converting section and has thus bought the brand new Bobst Novacut die-cutter and the Ambition 106 A2 folder gluer. Bhatade says having a brand like Bobst on the shop floor creates a positive impression among customers. Also, the fact that when it comes to productivity, accuracy, and the long usable life of the asset, there is no comparison to Bobst converting equipment, he adds.

“I believe in having state-of-the-art technology and therefore we have bought solutions from leading brands. Investment in two Bobst converting machines is especially significant but we were sure that we will go for the best. Also, having Bobst technology on the shop floor gives our potential customers much-needed confidence in us as a reliable and quality supplier,” adds Bhatade.

Further expansion scope

Aurangabad has a robust manufacturing eco-system with numerous companies operating in the area. Bhatade is confident that BLLPL will be able to generate excellent business in the coming months. The company already supplies wooden, corrugated and steel boxes to the automobile and electrical parts manufacturing segments. These segments also require large quantities of monocartons. Bhatade plans to acquire customers from new areas as well such as in the food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and alcohol segments.

“At present Aurangabad has very small monocarton convertors so customers from this area get their supplies from carton converters in Mumbai, Indore, Daman, and Nagpur. Now, with BLLPL these customers can get supplies of high-quality cartons locally. There is a huge potential in the Aurangabad region,” says Bhatade.

Confident of getting large volumes of work, Bhatade says that BLLPL will need to expand its capacity from the next financial year. The current set up is expected to become fully operational by January. BLLPL has enough space for future expansion as the current shop floor has a lot of space. The company can build more units given a large amount of vacant land still available in its 12-acre plot.

“We are getting encouraging inquiries and we hope to be fully up and ready with the new set up by January. We are expecting a further rise in volumes and will look to add machinery in both the press and converting departments. Right now, we do not know if we will buy new or pre-owned printing and converting machines. All that will be decided in the new financial year, depending on the kind of jobs we will get. However, it is sure we will need to add more capacity,” Bhatade says.

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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