Kirti Panchal, the managing director of Echaar and the person behind the engineering of the CI Flexo project, talks about the company’s experience in building CI Flexo presses over the last several years. He recounts his company’s installation of its first CI Flexo press, the Flexodelight model rated at 400 meters a minute at Kalyani Packaging in Kolkata in April this year. Panchal tells me over the phone, “We were new to the industry three years ago and we have now understood quite a bit about the Indian flexible packaging market and the needs and perceptions of our potential customers.”
He explains, “Our Flexodelight CI press has quite a bit of automation and is entirely suitable for the bigger flexible packaging converters in milk and other FMCG food products for the large Indian and global brand owners.”
Echaar started the development of its new Model Flexosmart HR 300 CI press about six months ago and are currently building it in their Ambernath plant. Based on their understanding of the Indian market, the company feels there is a large potential market for the small to medium flexible packaging converters. The Flexosmart is designed to control costs by first of all doing away with very high automation but there is no compromise in print quality, or the mechanical engineering and quality.
The Flexosmart CI is particularly optimized as a versatile 1-meter-wide press that can handle milk and edible oil pouches in three-ups and most other laminate jobs. It is also economical when printing narrower webs. Although Echaar is offering an 850 mm wide CI Flexo press as well, Panchal says the one meter wide is a more versatile width.
To keep the costs of the Smart CI in control and with the promise of faster reel changes, it is being offered with shaftless chucks for quick reel changes and with turret unwinder and rewinders as an option. When I ask him about the stability of this arrangement, Panchal assures me it is a workable solution – “Highly rigid frames with more steel and less automation.” He is planning to put it out there in the market at a very reasonable cost for an 8-color CI Flexo press running at 300 meters a minute.
Echaar Open House on Dussehra – the Flexomaster CI Flexo at 500 meters a minute
On 15 October 2021, the auspicious day of Dussehra, Echaar will begin its open house showing its Master CI Flexo running at 500 meters a minute. Planned to run for several days the open house will be both face to face and online. This will be an opportunity to see the company’s fastest CI Flexo press with full automation. Its solvent-less laminator will also be available for demonstration.
The open house will mark the persistence of Echaar’s flexographic press building program. The company is not only building three levels of CI Flexo presses but sees that the largest part of the market for some time will be the very competitive entry-level press. At the same time, it is leveraging its formidable engineering expertise to manufacture the key component of CI Flexo press, the central impression drum indigenously.
Make in India doesn’t work for Indian banks
While speaking to Panchal and in deed to other Indian manufacturers, and even importers of flexible packaging presses, it becomes clear that for all the talk of ‘Make in India’ our bureaucratic rules and our formidable banks make it difficult to sell an Indian press to an Indian buyer. While exporting a press to anywhere else in the world an international bank can provide a loan to a customers at a reasonable rate.
Moreover, while importing a press from a European supplier, an Indian customer can get a delayed payment arrangement and a low interest loan on the basis of its balance sheet. However, for an Indian company to buy and Indian press, the bank first asks for a down payment and then offers a loan for the balance amount at an unreasonably high rate of interest. Prime minister, please note.