On 20 January 2021, Bobst India organized a celebration to mark the handover of its 1000th folder gluer from the Pune plant in Western India. The 1000th folder-gluer, a Bobst VISIONFOLD, is to be shipped to Mumbai-based carton specialist Ajanta Print Arts. It will be Ajanta Print Arts’ seventh Bobst machine comprising multiple Autoplaten die-cutters and folder gluers. Along with the Bobst India team and several guests at the celebration, Ajanta’s top management comprising Vinod Khanna, Vivek Khanna, and Vikas Khanna was present for the handover.
“Congratulations to Bobst India for rolling out the 1000th folder-gluer. It is a matter of national pride that Bobst is manufacturing in India and exporting to the world. Ajanta ventured into packaging in 1998, and our relationship with Bobst goes back to that time. Around 2010, Ajanta’s journey in packaging really picked up. We believe that Bobst is our partner when it comes to converting and end-of-line production,” said Vinod Khanna.
Bobst’s expansive Pune plant was set up in 2003 to manufacture several components and machinery for flexible packaging, corrugation, and refurbishing equipment. In 2010 Bobst, started producing folder gluers in Pune, with the first folder gluer rolling out in April of that year.
Venugopal Menon of Bobst India signals the entire team’s contribution. “The credit for the milestone of rolling out the 1000th folder-gluer goes to everybody at the company, whether its manufacturing, design, purchase, sales, assembly and service. This achievement would not have been possible without the whole team,” he said.
Vikas Khanna added that Bobst is the natural choice for converting equipment because of Bobst’s experience in the sector for over a century. “Seven machines and 20 years of relationship has been a gradual and satisfying process. Also, it is reassuring for us that Bobst has a large team in India. Other than Bobst, there isn’t any other global converting equipment company that has such a strong manufacturing and services base in India.”
Support in the lockdown and outlook for FY 21-22
The advantage of Bobst’s comprehensive Indian presence was felt, especially during the challenging initial months of the national lockdown announced in March 2020, Vikas Khanna added, “It was a lot easier for us during the lockdown because of Bobst India’s large local footprint. If anyone required assistance from a supplier based overseas, there was no chance that assistance would have come during the national lockdown.”
Commenting on the 2021-2022 financial year outlook, Vivek Khanna stated that if there are no further lockdowns, the packaging industry, especially the carton segment, should do well. “It should be a good year if there are no further unwelcome surprises in the shape of a second wave or another round of lockdowns. But the 2021-2022 fiscal year would also come with some challenges such as rising raw material prices.”
Bobst India and packaging have come a long way
Bobst’s presence in India goes back to 1995 when the Indian packaging industry was in its infancy with basic sales and service operations. On the carton side, Bobst India was mostly selling refurbished machines. In fact, until 2000-2001, about 70% of its sales would come from refurbished machines, and the company operated a small refurbishing plant near Pune. This continued till 2003, when Indian economic growth and the carton industry began to grow in more structured ways and aspired to global standards and productivity.
“We saw a major shift in the industry around 2003 when converters and brand owners started looking at technology differently. The volumes started increasing, as did the demand for quality from brand owners. For Bobst India, things changed as well. We started selling more brand-new machines,” says Menon.
Bobst India’s General Manager, Upendra Deglurkar adds that it was around 2003 that its management realized that the Indian market had great potential. In the same year, its current plant, built on a substantial plot of land with room to grow, was inaugurated.
“Bobst India’s timing was perfect. We inaugurated our present Pune plant around the same time that the Indian industry took off. Since then, the Packaging Industry has come a long way, and so have we. Indian converters are now at par with their global peers when it comes to quality and innovation. At the same time, Bobst India has become a leading manufacturer and supplier of converting equipment,” explains Deglurkar.
Bobst India’s Pune plant now supplies folder gluers and downstream modules for FFG catering to the corrugated board industry in India as well as the global market. Bobst’s folder gluer range comprises the Ambition, Visionfold, Expertfold, and Masterfold. The range is still manufactured around the world, in the four different production sites – India, Switzerland, Brazil, and China.
(This article has been slightly edited on 7 February 2021.)