Award Offset makes huge investment over expansion and diversification

Award Offset Printers and Packaging, a company that specializes in pharmaceutical packaging solutions, is going through rapid transition as it overhauls its main plant in Navi Mumbai equipping it with the most advanced and capable technologies. The Silvassa unit has also been expanded to accommodate the growing needs of the Mumbai-based company. Interestingly, the company has not restricted itself to the acquiring of modern technologies alone, but diversified its product portfolio significantly. For example, today it also deals in corrugated cartons to go with monocartons, and food and retail segments in addition to pharma segment.

Three new packaging presses to bolster capacity
Award has recently acquired three new packaging presses, with an aim to shore up capacity of its pressrooms. These include the 7-color KBA Rapida 105 UV press with 4+3 intradeck curing systems, continuing the company’s long association with German technology. It has, for a change, also embraced Japanese technology, with Komori Lithrone GL40 7-color plus coater press being added to the Navi Mumbai plant, and Komori Lithrone GL40 6-color plus coater at the Silvassa plant. The addition of the three new presses takes the tally of multicolor offset press that Awards currently has to six. The three older models belong to German brand Heidelberg.

Elsewhere, converting and postpress sections have also been strengthened at both Navi Mumbai and Silvassa with the adoption of a host of high-end equipments. These new equipments – which include converting, inspection systems, lamination, leaflet folding, and blanking machines – will allow Awards to offer comprehensive packaging solutions.

Speedwave Technology takes center stage
The most impressive of the installed machines have to be the Expertfold folder-gluer which comes with the much acclaimed Speedwave-2 technology, putting Award among the handful of packaging convertors to boast this technology. Interestingly, the two plants currently have around 11 Bobst machines.

The Speedwave-2 technology used in the gluer was showcased at Bobst India’s Pune facility, in February 2018. Unlike Speedwave-1 which was launched in Masterfold, the Speedwave-2 was launched in Expertfold to make it accessible for a larger pool of customers.

Among the noteworthy features of the Speedwave-2 include the full motorized conveyer settings, which effectively does away with mechanical settings. This greatly reduces items the operator has to set up, thereby cutting set up time by almost half, especially in case of crash-lock bottom cartons. The technology has also been found to increase productivity of crash-lock bottom and special box types by more than 50%. Another speciality of the technology is its absence of hooks, which helps make production of boxes with windows much smoother, as chances of hooks getting stuck is eliminated.

The Silvassa plant has also installed an Expertfold folder gluer and a Bobst Novacut 106 diecutter. Other machines that have been added by Award include a lamination machine (Tiancen), Checkmate inspection system (Autoprint), leaflet folders (Pratham and Guk), and WP speedliner (Heiber and Schröder).

New initiatives
Extending its area of operation, Award has recently started a corrugation line at its Silvassa plant. The line as of now is producing E and F flute corrugated cartons, with an initial capacity of 250-300 tonnes per month.

Speaking of the new line, Rajesh Shah, director of Award Offset Printers and Packaging, said it will ensure current customers of the company don’t have to look someplace else if they require corrugation solutions. He added that it also fulfills one of the popular demands of customers. Before starting the corrugation line, the company last year started leaflet printing. Its current portfolio includes corrugation solutions, cartons and leaflets.

On the pipeline is flexo division
Award is already eying to start a narrow-web flexo division in the near future. According to Nitin Shah, director of Award Offset Printers and Packaging, the division will provide shrink sleeves and label solutions and will be housed at Silvassa.

Product diversification to safeguard business interests
Presently the bulk of the revenue Award generates – more than 90% – comes from the pharmaceutical packaging segment. But the company feels it is not a very sustainable model given the uncertainties seen in the sector in recent times. Rajesh Shah said the company lost substantial business as a result of US FDA issues faced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

To ensure the company has a buffer against any unexpected bumps faced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry, the company plans to diversify into food and retail segments, informed Rajesh Shah. He said that the objective right now is to bring down the share of pharmaceutical segment in the revenue model to around 75% in the next couple of years.

As part of the diversification plan, Navi Mumbai plant will be exclusively dedicated to pharmaceutical solutions while the Silvassa unit will be play a dual role – 60% of its production will be pharmaceutical packaging solutions and rest non-pharma.

— Dev Kumar Dutta