Soma hopes to expand its biz plans to open a tech centre in India

Roman Dresler, area sales manager, Soma speaks to the WhatPackaging? team at Plastindia 2023 which was at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi; and discussed the Czech Republic company’s prospects in India

12 Mar 2023 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Soma: We see a strong potential in the Indian market

WhatPackaging? Team (WP?): Please share an update on Soma?
Roman Dresler (RD):
We grew from a mid-size company to serving a global market. We achieved this leap due to our strong sales-force. Now we are able to support our sales in India with a team, headed by Suhas Kulkarni on a commercial scale. 

WP? Team: Business as usual?
RD:
We see a strong potential and that is how we are working hard in the Indian market. India is one of our priorities worldwide.

WP? Team: How many Soma installations in India?
RD:
We have three Soma printing machines, two laminators and three slitter rewinders. The new Optima has been installed in Chennai at MultiFlex. This was installed during the Covid period. The other two kits are the previous model of Soma, which is the Premia. 

WP? Team: Do you think the company is below par in terms of outreach so far in India?
RD:
Initially, India was supported by Soma as it should have been. We were not strong enough to place the machines in the sub-continent and to service it in the proper way. With the growth of flexo and roto-gravure in India, Soma reconsidered its strategy and decided to build a strong presence, together with the Soma office.

WP? Team: Roman Dresler, how long have you been with Soma?
RD:
I have been with Soma since 2011. I have been working in different positions. When the customers were doing trials and demos, I was responsible for the successful running and providing training. 

WP? Team: You have worked with various industry partners, what is the USP at Soma?
RD:
We are always trying to take flexo to the highest level. Over the years, I feel, we have created a robust ecosystem. Now with a well-equipped system, we can deliver the best results out of a Soma press in India.

WP? Team: What has been a major breakthrough for Soma?
RD:
The Optima machine has been a huge game-changer. More than 200 Optimas have been sold worldwide since 2016.

WP? Team: What about India?
RD:
In the last five years in India, we have seen a linear growth of flexo machines but very rapid growth. This has translated into 15 flexo presses being installed every year. The key to investment is to focus on India's strategic market positioning. 

WP? Team: What message do you wish to convey to flexo investors?
RD:
It is fundamental to understand the benefits which Soma offers. For example, we had a breakthrough breakfast meeting this morning. The team realised that we can contribute to saving more than 300,000 euros per year because of our technological advancements.

WP? Team: What kind of technological advancements?
RD:
Initially on flexographic wide-web presses, there was a bearer bar on each side of the print to maintain a constant contact between the impression cylinder and the plate cylinder to avoid mounts.  We discovered the anti-bounce technology to eliminate bearer bars. This helps in saving around 20-30% of film on each side of the frame, but also doing away with extra width issues. 

WP? Team: How is stability established in the press with an anti-bounce system? 
RD:
Basically, we call this technology - an advanced bounce control system. It is a combination of the mechanical elements and the drive tuning system which is unique for Soma.  And the job tuning is the special tuning of the drive frequencies according to the dynamic properties of the job. It allows the operator to print difficult bouncing jobs at maximum machine speed which boosts printing efficiency. 

WP? Team: Soma was recently awarded FTA technical innovation ‘Soma Changeover Wizard’ in the US. What is the highlight of this feature?
RD:
Our machines are now installed with software equipment, which leads the inexperienced or new operators through the job changeover process, step by step. So the operator cannot make a mistake and is able to operate the machine without the heavy flexo printing skills. And so, you need one skilled supervisor.

WP? Team: Any other features which are installed in your machines?
RD:
A unique selling point of our flexo machine is the IRIS system. This helps automated register and impression setting. So, after a plate is mounted in the machine, the machine reads the topography of the printing plate and determines the exact position of the printing plate against the magnet. While inserting the sleeves in the machine, the data inside the CI press transfers and simultaneously the machine sets the registration and impression fully, automatically. It takes fewer minutes for changeover with zero metres setup waste.
 
WP? Team: What is the typical job changeover time average?
RD:
If you do not change the aniloxes, just exchange the sleeves, it will be five to six minutes. And if you do exchange the aniloxes, exchange the inks it is 14 and a half minutes for a six colour job, with two operators and IRIS system. 

WP? Team: Quite impressive?
RD:
Yes. And in case of a complete job changeover, including exchange of the material, the reverse to surface exchange, it takes approximately 26 minutes. That's just the numbers that we have observed from our technology centre. The point is, we strive to perform the best in terms of the job changeovers, print quality and bounce properties. 

WP? Team: How do you plan to cater to customers in India in the upcoming time?
RD:
We are thinking of opening a technology centre in India to serve India and surrounding Asian countries. We have seen that this was a huge boon in the Czech Republic for European converters. It's helping us a lot in the USA to build up the market. I think it will help in India to sell machines. Also it will boost flexo quality.

Soma and Popli Graphics
We see a great potential in the flexible packaging market in the near future and wanted to be part of this change.

At Popli Graphics, we have been in discussion with Soma for the past one year and after a lot of in-depth planning we have signed an agreement of representation for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh.

Our role is to develop and provide services and marketing support and we also have Suhas Kulkarni to guide us, it completes the circle .

Today, with a cumulative experience of more than 115 years of experience in the print and publishing industry, Popli Graphics provides its clients with a comprehensive and research-based understanding of the latest technology, machinery, and the best lines of consumables.

Seeing the advances in our field, we strive to re-define our domain expertise. We continuously develop and suggest sophisticated tailor-made solutions that fulfil specific requirements of our diverse clientele. In addition, our ‘the-customer-is-always-first’ approach has enabled us to foster strong and meaningful relationships with both our partners and our customers.

Today, we have a leading position in the North Indian market, we aspire towards a dominant leadership position in the pan-Indian market by 2030. We aim to realise this by becoming a true life cycle management partner, combining two key roles as a TMC system integration partner and a maintenance partner to all our customers, while focusing on exceeding their expectations.

Last but not the least, we are dedicated to creating smart and green solutions at a competitive cost of ownership.This is our reputation – and it is one of the key assets of our company.

Sanjeev Popli
CEO and managing director
Popli Graphics

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

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