The VK Global Digital plant in Manesar

Consolidation and growth of a large print and carton packaging plant

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VK Global
VK Global Digital's metallic effect films are used by carton converters around the world. It also produces some of the cartons in its own plant in Manesar. Photo VK Global Digital

Faridabad-based VK Global Publications’ associated company – VK Global Digital, an established manufacturer and supplier of holographic metallic effects, acquired RaveScan in 2018 in the NCLAT. We recently visited the plant in Manesar where VK Global Digital has consolidated all the assets from the RaveScan plants in Manesar and the Naraina industrial area in West Delhi.

The assets acquired by VK Global Digital are considerable, comprising nine Heidelberg offset presses, including seven multicolor presses ranging from a 4-color to an 8-color perfector in addition to a double color and a single color press. Several of the presses are accompanied by coaters and the 6-color with coater UV press has an in-line cold foil unit installed on top of the first two units. 

Top-notch bookbinding 

VK Global
Text book covers of VK Global Publications use the holographic metallic effects produced at the VK Global Digital plant in Manesar for dramatic visual effects and also for anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy. Photo VK Global Digital

For the finishing, coating, lamination, binding and converting lines there are separate floors dedicated to commercial printing and bookbinding, and the packaging converting for monocartons and luxury box making. In the commercial printing and finishing domain, VK Global is committed for more than half the year for the printing of school and college textbooks. However, it is just as keen to fill up this comprehensive binding capacity with general books going forward. The equipment is top-notch, ranging from an extensive battery of folding machines, an Aster section-sewing machine, automated gathering and stitching machines from Muller Martini, to multi-clamp perfect binders and 3-knife trimmers.  

VK’s commercial printing division in Manesar has extended book printing capacity with the full complement of single-color, double color, 4-color, 5-color, and 8-color perfecting Heidelberg presses and the extensive automated binding equipment. It is highly invested in the textbook season with the VK group’s school and university textbooks. For the rest of the year, it is seeking to generate more demand from the general book publishers and advertising collateral, particularly from its current clients for whom it already provides monocartons and hard box luxury packaging. 

Turning an acquisition around   

Namit Jain, director of VK Global, tells us that the packaging division at the Manesar plant is driven by the Heidelberg 6-color coater UV press with foiler as well as the other multicolor coater presses with converting equipment including a precision register laminator and the Bobst Novacut diecutter and two Bobst folder-gluers. Jain, explains, “We spent the first fifteen months after taking over the plant in simply re-organizing the plant and moving all the equipment including the Italian hard box making machines into the single large premises that we occupy today in Manesar. One can say this was a time of healthy learning and consolidation and then the pandemic struck.

Nevertheless, we have been fortunate during the past eighteen months to be able to build a strong association with our clients for whom consistency and timeliness do matter. But we had to increase our productivity to match their demands and did so by improving our die-cutting efficiencies and procuring another folder-gluer from Bobst. However, even after optimizing our Novacut diecutter productivity, we need more capacity for balancing and increasing our carton throughput and thus, have ordered another Bobst Novacut and are eagerly awaiting the delivery of the same.”  

Admittedly, it is a considerable challenge to turn a large printing and packaging plant around in less than three years with a global pandemic raging. Namit Jain modestly admits that the plant is now at an operational break-even and undergoing the even more formidable task of ramping up operations and systems for expansion, growth, and healthy profits. 

Vk Global
Naresh Khanna interviews Namit Jain, director VK Global Digital in Manesar.

The sustainable holographic metallic effect   

The Manesar commercial and packaging plant’s parent VK Global Digital, manufactures a unique film containing spectacular metallic holographic effects that can be either laminated to board or transferred with the carrier film removed entirely for recycling. While these films have been mainly exported for the last seven years with some global brands and leading converters also showing interest in India, Jain says, “The time has come to grow the Manesar plant and to bring this decoration and anti-counterfeiting technology to the Indian carton packaging market. We have already been applying it extensively for the textbook covers produced by our publication company, and now we want to increasingly introduce these attractive metallic effects to carton production in India.

“Considering our experience in producing the film along with the comprehensive technology and application equipment in our Manesar plant, ours is perhaps the only such capacity in the world for this unique metallic effect films as well as its application on paper and paper board. Already used by leading cosmetic manufacturers in Europe, it should be a sustainable and eye-catching solution for maximizing shelf impact and security against counterfieting for our customer’s products in India also. It can be the easily recyclable answer to laminating metalized polyester film on board known as met-pet by the industry.”

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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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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