Noel D'Cunha (NMD): In the first few days of the pandemic, unprecedented things have become commonplace, and many industries have made large-scale adjustments to respond to the escalating situation. what have you done? Ayush Khetan (AK): In view of the second wave of new coronavirus cases since April 2021, we have adopted what we are doing now. In addition to e-commerce and packaged foods, non-essential brands and companies are beginning to see some factories shut down due to manpower issues as demand drops suddenly and cases increase. There is a sudden shortage of beds across India. We started producing CorruBeds again, just like we did when we first locked in last year.
But this time, the crisis was huge, with daily cases rising sharply. Our CorruBeds are a frugal solution for this situation, so we made more than 3,000 beds in the last 10 days of April.
NMD: A glimmer of hope in a cruel age... AK: Yes, it comes in the form of a demand for hospital beds to care for Covid-19 patients. Although the metal bed takes longer to manufacture, the corrugated bed can be produced quickly. It can be set up effortlessly because it does not require screws to assemble. It is cost-effective and robust, and can be disassembled and disposed of as quickly as possible during assembly.
NMD: Have you made something similar before? AK: Although in the past, we have developed some non-packaging-related products using the technology we have, but for us, the development of CorruBeds is the most exciting.
NMD: Is CorruBeds your classic example of Covid crisis innovation? AK: We designed a disposable corrugated bed, made of high-strength corrugated cardboard, with a special coating for waterproofing. In fact, we had earlier tried to make a small number of products from corrugated cardboard (bed/temple/table) for internal use, but due to the rapid scalability of its production, the pandemic is actually the best time for such products.
NMD: How many? AK: CorruCase produces approximately 1,500 hospital beds a day and transports 500 plain-packed hospital beds in a 32-foot container.
NMD: The second wave of Covid-19 hit us harder... AK: In the past few days (the second wave of Covid-19), we have shipped about 2,000 beds and they have appeared in our country The bed crisis, now that the virus has reached the village, CorruBeds is a good solution, it takes an hour. Last year, we donated hundreds of beds and provided them to some government hospitals and other organizations at cost value.
NMD: When the blockade came, the world of many people in the printing industry changed. how do you feel? AK: The first few months of the pandemic were very bad, because we mainly cater to non-essential products, which use our offset printing boxes.
NMD: How bad is it? AK: At CorruCase, we saw a 40-50% drop from April to June 2020 because we mainly cater to non-essential categories. In the following months it began to stabilize, but it was still 30% lower than the level before the outbreak. In the past two months, with stricter regulations and restrictions in place, the decline in numbers has returned to Covid-19 times.
NMD: CorruCase is managed by a gen-next like yours and has a factory in Hyderabad. What other aspects does your company have? AK: We are a company headquartered in Mumbai. Our factory is located in Hyderabad (including a fully automatic 5-layer corrugated paper mill and 3-layer and 5-layer lithographic composite cartons). We have a printing press in Navi Mumbai, where we have Roland Ultra presses, processing and finishing equipment. We also like offset printing boxes (single box but with grooves).
NMD: Why did you go to Hyderabad? AK: Looking back, we were established in Hyderabad in 2009 under the name Khetan Containers. Now, why is Hyderabad... One of our customers is looking for a partner who can provide them with quality boxes and the most important services. It must be close to their factory in Hyderabad.
NMD: Was the formation of Telangana helpful? AK: The formation of the new country Telangana has driven growth at an unprecedented rate, and many companies have established new facilities.
The Telangana state government is very cooperative and supportive. It is now the gateway to South India, and its geographic location is an added advantage. In 2016, we established a fully automatic 5-layer factory and put it into operation in 2017.
NMD: In addition to corrugated boxes and single-layer cartons, what else does CorruCase include? AK: We also print banners (LD foam) on offset presses for a few customers.
NMD: What do you do in application? AK: In a single carton, we cater to larger boxes or outer boxes used in categories such as shelf display or electronic products and tiles. The packaging appeal of secondary packaging printing also plays a role in its marketing. We are not very suitable for primary packaging. We can choose surface treatment, such as water varnish, UV and lamination.
NMD: You have a lot of equipment in post-press flexo, offset printing, corrugated production lines and conversion production lines. Before signing the equipment purchase contract, what can help you make up your mind? AK: The most important thing for us is the strength and ability of after-sales service and supplier engineering team to solve problems in a timely manner. Obviously, the capabilities and technology of the equipment will also affect the purchase decision, but we are not just choosing the brand or the number of features. We also pay more attention to the reliability and service life of equipment.
NMD: The production of corrugated boxes is to print on different substrates. What kinds of substrates do customers need? AK: We print different substrates, such as coated double-sided (offset printing), uncoated double-sided (flexo), white kraft paper backing paper (WKL) and white surface test backing paper (WKTL). Customers who focus on shelf display choose coated duplexes with offset printing. There may be some varnish coatings or laminates, but mainly edible oil or dairy products. Due to the required CS parameters and volume (cost sensitivity), The demand for WKL began to come into play more, so light weight came in).
NMD: What level of automation have you deployed in the factory? AK: In terms of equipment automation, we have been looking forward to it. We are a dynamic young team, trying to subvert our traditional corrugated packaging industry through innovation. This may be through the use of ERP (Finsys) for our daily input through processing devices (such as tablets/mobile devices), combined with barcodes for marking and tracking, the use of solar energy (80% of electricity demand) and other more environmentally friendly Energy (heating bricks and LED lights).
We are now focusing on turning to flexo (high-graphics flexo) post-press and exploring options for investing in high-end machines, because customer trends and needs and shorter job runs make it a better choice.
NMD: What is special about your prepress? AK: We have a Basysprint plate making machine from the UK and a Bora heavy-duty processor. We think these are first-class kits that can emit 2,400dpi hotspots.
NMD: What about your media and printing? AK: The Navi Mumbai plant is equipped with three four-color Roland offset presses, one 40x56-inch printing press and two 44x64-inch printing presses. These extensive machine series allow us to meet the needs of all customers-a press suitable for all applications.
We also provide a series of post-press services to increase the value of printing materials from glazing, laminating and punching, so that we can meet the printing finishing needs of a diversified customer base.
NMD: Do you contact your customers? AK: In order to make our customers' final products more effective, our management staff will advise customers on the quality of the paper (substrate) used and the type of printing to be performed. In short, they will guide you through the process.
NMD: How do you deal with different MOQs-small, medium and large? Have you invested in digital printing? Are you thinking in that direction? AK: Yes, customers have considerable demand for short-term operations, and the number of products/SKUs for each brand or customer is also increasing. Currently, in offset printing, we are trying to do at least 5,000 sheets of work, but as the running time gets shorter and shorter, we are trying to transfer the work to post-press flexo, which we plan to invest in soon.
NMD: What misunderstanding does he have about your production? AK: We like shippers or CFC or secondary packaging-corrugated boxes. 80% are flexo printing (post-press flexo printing), and about 20% are pre-printed offset printing laminate boxes. In the offset printing box, about 30% have UV varnish or special effects, and about 5% have laminate.
NMD: The biggest challenge during a pandemic is people, because many people are leaving the city. How does CorruCase respond? AK: The blockade caused a lot of panic. No one has seen anything like this before. Many immigrants lost their livelihoods and started to leave because they had no choice. However, this large-scale exodus also caused fear, anxiety and panic among the labor force in the corrugated paper industry, while the corrugated paper industry was allowed to operate.
NMD: Did your workers also withdraw? AK: No. Fortunately, our team showed courage and resilience without panic. Some people did leave. I would say that about 5% of our 60 employees, including contract workers. But others are committed to our company, and so are we.
NMD: What measures did you take? AK: As far as we are concerned, we fully took care of their safety until they were fully unlocked. In the following months-about six months-we provided them with on-site accommodation, meals and toiletries. Basically, everything needed for daily necessities was provided and hygiene was maintained.
NMD: Paper prices have changed a lot... AK: Yes, the prices of double-sided paper and kraft paper have risen by 40%-50%, while the price of kraft paper has risen by nearly 70%.
NMD: You are in the business of manufacturing and supplying packaging (corrugated boxes). This is not a product business, but a service business... AK: Packaging is now a commodity, and we have been making ourselves unique through our services . In the first few days of lock-in or the first wave, we maintained normal operations, and even during the price increase phase from December 2020 to March 2021, we provide support to all customers. Through some new customers who are price-friendly, we have helped our customers maintain their operations.
Our customers are kept in the loop through proper data sharing on our side, which ultimately helps to share the load. But yes, it has affected the bottom line. I think this is the case in the entire packaging industry, because most of the units are small, medium and micro enterprises, and price increases have an adverse effect on working capital restrictions and the bottom line.
As far as we are concerned, we have a very strong and ancient relationship with our customers, and our customers know it very well.
NMD: In a sustainable world, how do you deal with waste? AK: We try to follow what we call SPP (Sustainable Production Practices), such as processing washed ink and waste ink and recycling them for our on-site gardening, or using agricultural waste bricks for heating and using 80% of the Solar energy meets the electricity needs of our Hyderabad plant.
NMD: Can you share some of the measures you have taken in the past 10 years to better serve customers? AK: We have been providing immediate service to our customers, ranging from our manufacturing plant to a radius of 1,000 kilometers. We have our own transportation/logistics services and can provide customers with 24/7 support. Through business model engineering, we are striving to maintain logistics costs and provide our customers with the most economical packaging solutions by keeping logistics costs to a minimum.
We are not only a processor, but also a partner of our customers' supply chain, whether through logistics support or continuing to help them optimize the carton design structure through light weight, so as to help them maintain the cost while saving the strength required for packaging. parameter.
NMD: Finally-awards? AK: Well, we have recently been nominated for the 2021 World Corrugated Paper Awards in two categories. The first is the environmentally friendly category, used in our sustainable production practices and the humanitarian company category, used to develop and provide CorruBeds when needed during the pandemic.
NMD: I wish you all the best.
Ayush Khetan-at a glance
How did you relax during the epidemic? The epidemic has given us more time to stay at home. So I do have time to catch up on some series or ride a bicycle online.
A word you heard during the pandemic. Let us have zoom call, doh gajj ki duri, mask hai zaroori, no waste collection, and OCC prices will rise again.
Which movie or web series have you seen? There are many on the platform-The Shark Tank, The Founder, Upstarts, Suits, Tandav, Scam 1992, to name a few.
After the epidemic is over, where will you go on vacation? Europe.
Favorite snack. Pizza or Indian street food.
Are you in your city? In the past pandemic years, it was my home.
No one knows about a historical event in the city where you live. This is the place where India's first passenger train departed from Thane to Mumbai (Mumbai, Boriband).
A printing job you like. In fact, this is not a printing job, but our innovative disposable bed-CorruBeds.
A diary suitable for toddlers...