Packaging is one of the fastest growing industries in India, Anthony D'souza

Abhay Avadhani of WhatPackaging? catches up with Anthony D’souza, the president of Indian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (IPMMI) on the sidelines of the PackMach Asia Expo roadshow in Mumbai. Packmach is expected to serve as a unified platform for India's packaging community to connect, collaborate, and flourish across all packaging verticals, be it plastics, paper, glass, bottles, films, trays, or pods

04 Jul 2023 | By Abhay Avadhani

Anthony D'Souza, president of IPMMI: The PackMach show has garnered positive business sentiment from manufacturers in the packaging industry

Abhay Avadhani (AA): IPMMI members have been very busy in 2023. What with PlastVision and InterPack and other shows. Please share the update about PackMach Asia Expo?
Anthony D'Souza (AD):
In today's dynamic business landscape, the packaging industry plays a vital role in meeting diverse needs across various sectors. Presenting the PackMach Asia Expo (PMAE), a premier comprehensive trade fair and conference that serves as a unified platform for India's packaging and processing communities to connect, collaborate, and flourish across all industries from Food, FMCG, Pharma, Cosmetics, Beverages and more. The 2023 edition is scheduled to be held from 4-6 October 2023 in Pragati Maidan, in concurrence with drink technology India and World Tea and Coffee Expo

AA: In what way?
Unlike other industry-specific exhibitions, PMAE stands out by encompassing the entire spectrum of packaging solutions. It's an exceptional showcase of cutting-edge product lines that address every concern and challenge encountered in achieving packaging business goals. Whether you're involved in packing liquids, solids, powders, pills, or even happiness itself, PMAE is tailored to meet your unique requirements.

AA: What is the business sentiment among the manufacturers about the PackMach show?
The PackMach show has garnered positive business sentiment from manufacturers in the packaging industry. It is recognised for providing a comprehensive platform where manufacturers can meet, network, and engage with different segments of the packaging fraternity. The exhibition's ability to address specific concerns and challenges faced by manufacturers has been highly appreciated. Manufacturers value the opportunity to explore innovative solutions and technologies that can enhance their operations. The PackMach show's unique aspect of attracting a diverse audience and facilitating the exchange of ideas between different verticals within the packaging industry has been particularly appealing.

AA: Your view about the packaging sector in India. Is it business as usual? Or still unusual?
This is one of the fastest growing industries in India. During Covid, packaging has grown phenomenally and its importance on all kinds of industries has shown that packaging made the mark of safety hygiene and integrity. Covid shook communities and companies. Now it is likely to be over. In spite of the Covid impact, the packaging industry is thriving and gathering more steam as every industry has understood its importance. Product saleability in the masses is directly proportional to the packaging quality irrespective of the industry.

AA: What are the challenges? The high points? Any learnings?
Sustainability and eco-friendly packaging is the next focal area where the entire packaging industry is working towards providing solutions that can address a circular ecosystem. The value of the packaging industry has not been recognised to its fullest potential and capability. There is a lot to explore within packaging. We are proudly following closely in revenue behind the IT industry in terms of popularity and customer awareness.

AA: Made in India is top priority. What is IPMMI doing in this regard?
IPMMI (Indian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) is playing a crucial role in driving the evolution of the "Made in India" movement within the packaging industry. IPMMI, as an association of packaging machinery manufacturers, is actively promoting indigenous manufacturing, technological advancements, and innovation in packaging machinery.

AA: What are the concrete steps by IPMMI in order to facilitate Make in India?
To support the initiative, IPMMI is fostering a collaborative ecosystem among its members and industry stakeholders. The association facilitates knowledge-sharing, best practices, and technical advancements through conferences, seminars, and workshops. By encouraging research and development, IPMMI aims to enhance the quality and competitiveness of Indian packaging machinery on a global scale. Also, we pioneer technological handshakes with overseas manufacturers to enhance the capabilities of the micro segment of Indian companies.

AA: Any engagement with the government of India officials?
IPMMI works closely with government agencies and policymakers to advocate for favourable policies, incentives, and reforms that strengthen the packaging machinery manufacturing sector. This collaboration aims to create an enabling environment for domestic manufacturers, fostering growth and sustainability.

AA: What next according to you?
Looking ahead, IPMMI's focus is on continuous innovation, embracing emerging technologies, and enhancing the skill sets of its members. IPMMI also seeks to strengthen collaborations with global counterparts, leverage digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence in packaging machinery manufacturing, facilitating technology transfer, knowledge exchange, and global market expansion opportunities for Indian manufacturers. By fostering international partnerships, IPMMI aims to position India as a leading hub for packaging machinery production and export.

AA: What’s the final goal?
Ultimately, IPMMI envisions a future where "Make in India" packaging machinery is globally recognised for its quality, reliability, and technological advancements through its proactive initiatives, advocacy efforts, and commitment to innovation.

IPMMI views EPR regulations as a crucial component of sustainable packaging practices and emphasises the importance of adopting holistic approaches to minimise environmental impact. Sustainability, for IPMMI, involves responsible packaging design, resource management, waste reduction, and collaboration with stakeholders

AA: As was evident during the IPMMI and Messe Munchen panel discussion at Hotel Hilton, packaging buyers and brands in India are seeking a shorter time to market. Is there a new normal for TAT (turnaround time) in this day and age?
The panel discussion at Hotel Hilton, Mumbai which was themed on standardisation in packaging highlighted the increasing demand for shorter time to market in the packaging industry in India. In today's fast-paced business environment, brands and packaging buyers are seeking agility and responsiveness, necessitating accelerated timelines. Technological advancements and streamlined processes enable faster iterations, from concept development to production. Optimal supply chain management and collaboration are crucial to meet tighter TAT requirements. Embracing this new normal empowers packaging industry players to gain a competitive edge, seize market opportunities, and meet the evolving expectations of brands and consumers.

AA: Automation is a buzzword. Any success stories about automation that you can share within the Indian context?
Automation has revolutionised the Indian packaging industry, with numerous success stories highlighting its transformative impact. Companies have implemented automated packaging lines, leveraging advanced machinery to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and boost production capacity. Robotic solutions for picking and packing have expedited order processing and enhanced accuracy. Automated quality control systems using vision inspection and AI technologies have improved compliance and minimised product recalls. Data-driven decision making, enabled by sensors and analytics, has optimised processes and equipment performance. These success stories showcase how automation has empowered Indian packaging companies, driving efficiency, quality, and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving industry.

AA: If you analyse the total cost of ownership (that is, the initial Capex and Opex over the life cycle of machinery), the Capex is not more than 20-25% of the total cost. But the buying decisions are made on the basis of Capex because Opex is hidden from customer perception. Can machinery manufacturers can help in reducing the Opex by offering subscription-based models of Opex and OEE improvements. Your thoughts?
Yes, machinery manufacturers can play a role in reducing Opex (Operating Expenditure) for businesses by offering subscription-based models of Opex and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) improvements. This approach can bring several benefits.

AA: Such as ...
Subscription-based Opex models allow companies to access advanced machinery and equipment without the need for large upfront capital investments. Instead, they pay a recurring subscription fee, which can be more manageable for their cash flow. This eliminates the need for companies to allocate significant funds for purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading machinery. Additionally, machinery manufacturers can offer OEE improvement packages as part of their subscription-based models. By optimising equipment performance and efficiency, companies can reduce costs associated with energy consumption, maintenance, and downtime. Improved OEE translates to higher productivity and lower operational costs.

AA: What about subscription-based models?
Subscription-based models also provide the flexibility for businesses to scale their operations up or down as needed, without the burden of owning and maintaining equipment that may become underutilised. However, it is essential for machinery manufacturers to ensure that the subscription-based model offers tangible value and meets the specific needs of their customers. This may include providing ongoing support, maintenance, and updates to the equipment throughout the subscription period.

AA: Is it workable?
The subscription-based models offered by machinery manufacturers can help reduce Opex for businesses by providing cost-effective access to advanced equipment and by improving OEE. This approach offers flexibility, scalability, and the potential for significant cost savings, allowing companies to optimise their operations while minimising capital expenditures. 

AA: During your talk at the Mumbai road-show you spoke about training. Can manufacturers create a chain of training centres in all major towns of India to train people in the science of packaging. This will generate a large number of employment as every factory needs to hire  trained personnel to manage projects and also help the industry improve on wastage control, consistent quality and better margins. Your view?
Training and upskilling initiatives are highly achievable goals that IPMMI actively pursues. The organisation strongly believes in giving back to the society that supports its growth. As part of this commitment, IPMMI has collaborated in creating and co-authoring a course for SNDT girl students. This course aims to empower an increasing number of women to confidently enter the packaging industry and build promising careers.

AA: What about packaging institutes in India?
IPMMI partners with engineering and packaging institutes and colleges to promote the packaging school of thought. Through lectures, classes, training programs, and pioneering diploma/degree courses, IPMMI ensures that students receive comprehensive education in packaging. IPMMI's efforts extend beyond generating employment opportunities for privileged students. The organisation also provides upskilling opportunities for operators seeking to gain proficiency in packaging science and machine handling. By imparting proper induction, training, and guided development, IPMMI equips candidates at all levels with the necessary skills for success in the packaging industry.

AA: What is IPMMI's view about EPR regulations? What does sustainability mean to you?
IPMMI views Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations as a crucial aspect of sustainable packaging practices. EPR regulations hold producers accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products, including the post-consumer stage. IPMMI recognizes the importance of EPR in promoting environmental stewardship and driving the adoption of sustainable packaging solutions.

AA: What does sustainability mean to you?
For IPMMI, sustainability means adopting a holistic approach to minimise the environmental impact of packaging throughout its lifecycle. It involves designing packaging that is eco-friendly, optimising material usage, promoting recyclability and reuse, and minimising waste generation. Sustainability also encompasses responsible resource management, energy efficiency, and reducing carbon footprint in packaging operations.

AA: Obstacles which you may have faced whilst implementing eco-friendly solutions?
IPMMI emphasizes the need for innovative technologies and processes that enable sustainable packaging practices. This includes the development of eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient machinery, and waste management solutions. IPMMI encourages its members and the industry at large to embrace sustainability as a core principle, integrating it into their business strategies, product design, and manufacturing processes. Furthermore, IPMMI recognises that sustainability is a collaborative effort that requires partnerships and engagement with stakeholders across the packaging value chain. This includes collaborating with regulatory authorities, industry associations, consumer groups, and environmental organisations to drive sustainable packaging initiatives, share best practices, and advocate for policies that support a circular economy.

At a glance -  By Anthony D'souza, the managing director of Mespack India
At Mespack, we believe in a holistic approach that extends beyond machines and investments. While these elements are crucial, we also recognise the importance of the human element in achieving superior conversion and increased efficiency.

Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, Mespack is an international manufacturer of flexible packaging machinery, offering horizontal (roll-stock, pre-made, and hybrid) as well as vertical form fill and seal equipment to produce sachets, stick packs, stand-up pouches, or other film-based packaging. Furthermore, the company provides water soluble pods and end-of-line equipment (wrap around and American box).

With more than 2,200 machines in service worldwide, Mespack has a sales network in over 90 countries as well as regional service centers, which provide access to parts and services. Mespack serves industries, including food, beverage, pharmaceuticals, personal care, pet food, among others. The company has three manufacturing plants: in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda (Barcelona, Spain), Vadodara (India), and Des Plaines (Chicago, USA).

The Mespack Innovation Centre (MIC) was launched recently. This facility concentrates on the development of projects with state-of-the-art equipment that is prepared to test recyclable materials. Following the principles of open innovation, Mespack collaborates with key partners of the flexible packaging sector in order to co-create challenging and customised projects for its customers. Since 2015, Mespack has been a part of Duravant, a global automation equipment company with a portfolio of products, services, and integrated solutions.

The pandemic has taught us to look beyond the borders to understand the higher standards being set by the manufacturers abroad. To prepare a manufacturing facility ready for tomorrow’s demands needs to be built today through capacity planning. The industry has recognised the real need of automation , productivity, quality, integrity with high efficiency all in one go. Thus, high speed equipment with the best precision delivered by AI and highest quality standards that can be ensured by the quality equipment are being sought. This is where Mespack comes into the picture, providing qualitative one stop shop solutions right from primary to end of line turnkey solutions.

With such a renewed approach towards quality, standardisation and high-speed deliverables, the packaging industry will be striving to scale up better heights and newer benchmarks.

Latest Poll

The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?


The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

Shortcomings in EPR policy



Inadequate infrastructure



Shortage of recycling firms



Lack of consumer awareness



Total Votes : 19


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