The real stagnation in Indian print and packaging precedes the pandemic that started a year ago. While labels and packaging have done well in the past year, and one hesitates to call it stagnation since huge capacity investments are in the pipeline, commercial printing has done less well. The actual conditions can be monitored not just based on hearsay and denial but in real-time because the consoles of the modern printing presses in the market are connected to the cloud – the IoT.
Some smaller printers do not want their presses connected for remote monitoring by the manufacturers or have bandwidth problems in their locations. The larger printers and converters are confident of the security of such connections and even keen to benefit from the ‘condition monitoring’ of their presses which can help with preventive maintenance and even remote diagnosis of breakdowns with the right parts and engineers dispatched quickly. The repair and recovery can also be monitored and compared to historical performance.
In the pandemic year from February 2020 to February 2021, we monitored the industry’s condition with a critical survey in May 2020 of all the segments in the supply chain and by checking both facts and anecdotes. When the lockdown of 25 March lifted gradually in June, and July 2020, packaging was more resilient (mainly food and pharma) than commercial printing, including newspapers, textbooks, and digital photobooks. This was confirmed by more than one press manufacturer who could remotely monitor their presses’ output impressions in the field.
Productivity is shockingly low
Recently, we were shocked to learn that the productivity of Indian printers is very low. Even among the best offset book and monocarton printers with brand new machines, the presses are running below 30% of their capacity. India’s best printers’ can improve their efficiency tremendously. Their return on capital can be leveraged to improve profitability and invest in what they need and not in what they think is the easiest thing to buy.
On another note, most Indian printers are notoriously deficient in creating demand – they don’t even see the importance of pushing the government to increase overall educational expenditure, especially the volumes of printing high–quality textbooks. In textbooks per child, India lags behind Bangladesh.
Commercial printers do not seem to get it – that print is a part of a multi-channel, omnichannel (hybrid) information and knowledge environment. Digital cannot work without print. Without reading and writing, a child cannot be educated. Additionally, there can be no youth demographic dividend without investment in education.
Brand owners and packaging professionals increasingly understand the need to be omnichannel and omni-format – with critical components being brand authentication, security, and customer engagement with the digital ecosphere from cellphones to the cloud. But commercial printers don’t seem to understand. There is a vast opportunity in transactional documents, secure documents, and even in health and safety documents that need to be digital and securely printed on paper.
Now that the Indian pharma industry has demonstrated its capacity as one of the most efficient vaccine producers globally, why can’t the print industry become the largest producer of secure documents in the world? There are politics and bottlenecks in both spheres, but how does the pharma industry take on the world? In contrast, the print industry languishes, and even its secure transactional document exports stagnate over the past five years!
The Smart Packaging Solutions for India and South Asia is a small injection – not a vaccination or immunity against obsolescence. It is a reminder that actionable and strategic knowledge drives business into the future and not merely self-congratulatory free webinars. To survive, you have to change and act, and you have to go after and pay for the strategic knowledge and networking that enables you to do this. Find out and register while you have the opportunity. Professionals from around the world are doing it!
Smart Packaging Solutions Virtual Congress -19 March 2021
The Smart Packaging Solutions for India and South Asia Virtual Congress on 19 March focuses on food and pharma supply chains, brand security, and sustainability. Organized jointly by IPPStar and the AIPIA, the virtual congress’s topics include brand authentication, condition monitoring, and active and intelligent packaging that contributes to the safe delivery of authenticated products leading to safety, security, and customer engagement. Please look at the agenda of the conference here, and for registration, please click here. You can also email Ruchi at [email protected] or Umesh at [email protected]. Call us in Noida at 120-4546988 or 4326053 – Umesh at Xtension 30; Ruchi at Xtension 33; Gaurav at Xtension 23; and Mohit at Xtension 25.