PackMach Asia Expo paved a new horizon to packaging standards

IPMMI and Messe Munchen hosted a panel discussion on 26 May 2023 at the Hilton Hotel in Mumbai, India. The forum discussed innovative and regulatory aspects of packaging. Aditya Ghosalkar of WhatPackaging? reports

13 Jul 2023 | By Aditya Ghosalkar

IPMMI Roadshow: Standardisation in Packaging

The panel
Moderated by Ainain Shahidi, director, 4 Sixes Packaging, the panel comprised of speakers - Ram Bhadouria, general manager - engineering and projects, South Asia Unilever; Sachin Ghosalkar, head - SCM and operations, Indoco Remedies; Amit Kale, general manager, Reliance Retail; Shailesh Lal, president - manufacturing operations, IPCA Laboratories; and Sanjib Sharma, group manager, Marico Industries.

FMCG Take One

Ainain Shahidi(AS): How could you drive the standardisation in packaging in your diversity of work? 
Ram Bhadouria (RB):
Briefed about activities of Unilever, impact on consumers. We have 238 factories and six development centres across the world, and India hosts 29 factories and one development centre of them. 

He talks about the dilemma of packaging. Packaging is crucial to protect the product and influences the consumer whether to buy or not. Although, the consumer perceives it as a use-and-throw entity that adds to the wastage and thereby recyclability.

In case of shampoo packaging, the development of mould for instance must be standardised. There are at least 250 SKUs in this segment, and the overall portfolio includes 10,000 SKUs. For variable shapes and formats, standardisation is crucial, also on a global scale.

Pharma Take One

AS: What is the effect of not following standardisation on quality and productivity in the pharmaceutical industry?
Shailesh Lal (SL):
Over 30 years, the pharmaceutical industry has come a long way from manual operations to precise, automated machines. With high volume demand, the production levels have gone high and precision has improved too.

Firstly, the selection of standardised non-standardised packaging materials would not allow the machines to run at optimum speeds. It will result in productivity being hampered, maximising wastage. For instance, if foil is not of optimum quality then there will be moisture permeation, resulting in improper sealing. It causes waste of money, time and energy.

Sustainability Take One

AS: How does packaging standardisation impact sustainability and environmental concerns?
Amit Kale:
There are two sides to standardisation. One is standardising material for packaging. Second is SKU standardisation to manufacture the same. Say for a specific quantity, there must be a standard packaging with a similar artwork, same packaging material with minute changes.

Although packaging may delight someone, the person will discard it right away. Hence, packaging is a sustainable evil. To overcome this, standardisation has to be thoughtful, cost effective and environmentally safe.

Pharma Take Two

AS: Your experience in development of standardising?
Sachin Ghosalkar:
Standardisation is a key to the industry. Aligning suppliers with it, helps ease the process. It is important to have a good supplier along with a good machine, which otherwise is of no use. 

On the sidelines, a packaging development person will have alternative suggestions to the printability of the substrate, say carton, while a supplier will limit the machine operation for a limited range.=

FMCG Take Two

AS: Example of successful packaging standardisation?
Sanjib S:
 A 25-year-old company, Marico focuses on eCommerce, with its growth post pandemic. We catered to general trade and modern trade both, which was vigorous and susceptible to complaints. 

To avail import service from China was not feasible with higher lead times up to three-four days and higher minimum order quantity (MOQ) as well. We developed local moulds and standardised the SKUs from 20-6.

Marico tried to build up on the economy of the smaller brands, creating differentiation by providing varied effects such as matte or gloss finish. And within the same packaging, we can create different aesthetics. Marico created standard bottles such that it can be used for different dispensing mechanisms thereby varied applications. 

These activities helped brands to reduce their packaging cost by 50% and reduce the packaging supply chain lead time by 30% from three to four months to a few weeks. In this manner, Marico caters to the erratic demand in eCommerce.

AS: In 300 days, how could you manage the green field project of personal care in Assam? It was complex to follow all the standards, machines and materials and everything? Please elucidate how you managed to complete the project? 
We had a factory located in Assam, located around 200-kms from the China border. With 800-crores allowance from Unilever, we organised a team of 30 members and we were assisted by 2,000 labour people. 

Since it was the festival of lights - Diwali and with over 1,200 working on the project, we decided to provide a 1-kg box of kaju katli (Indian sweet) to them. At least 1.2 tonnes was required for distribution to every labourer. I could convince around 25 shops to deliver this quantity within a short span of six hours. To complete a project in time requires good leadership. 

AS: With a background in handling various dosage forms, tablets, liquids, sterilised, aerosols, what are the challenges you faced in the pharma industry?
In service to an ointment company, we encountered an issue with a change in colour of the ointment. We did R&D to understand the reason behind it. It turned out that the tubes need to be coated with lacquer to prevent the contact of the drug with aluminium. 
No standardisation of colour. Different shades on the shelf. There must be coordination between packaging development and quality control departments to minimise such faults.

AS: What has been your experience about the role of standardisation in the entire packaging value chain?
While manufacturing boxes to Cadbury’s, I realised the value of imported paper, which has premium characteristics and a different shade. The type of paper also plays an important role. 

In Jio, our target was to pack 125-crores sim cards within a month. Initially, with a single we produced only 30,000 units per day. We worked on packing the units vertically to accommodate additional space, and eventually with five more machines we were able to pack 3 to 4.5-lakh units per day output. 

If you’re looking for speed and accuracy, you must select standard packaging material. It further influences the value chain. 

AS: In being instrumental in developing cost effective alternatives for various operational and procurement strategies in your organisation. So what can be the impact of standardisation on the commercial and commercial aspect? So can you please enlighten us about this in the pharma industry?
We worked with ITC, which used a specific board of size 28.5 X 32.6 for the inhaler and rotacaps to fit. We could save around 12-15% of the wastage at the suppliers’ end, and the benefit was more than 6-8% to us.

The IPMMI Roadshow touched upon various aspects involved in standardisation in packaging. And, the views from veterans from different verticals endorsed a knowledge-sharing session.

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