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Automation in Packaging – Transforming the Industry

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All it took was the humble sachet and a locally made packaging machine to revolutionise the FMCG distribution in rural India, until then an undiscovered and untapped market with huge potential. MNCs soon discovered this and followed suit, after initially sniggering at the Re 1 unit price. The Velvette shampoo story is the stuff marketing legends are made of, and the rest, as the cliché goes is history. According to informed sources, approximately 70 per cent of the products sold in India are in small pouches, and the FMCG companies – from unorgansied as well as organised segments – are merrily tapping into smaller packaging, raking in the profits from the large volumes. From detergent powders, shampoo, hair oil, soaps, spices, tobacco, mouth fresheners and even pickles, small packages are very popular among rural consumers.

The Indian packaging industry constitutes about 4 per cent of the global packaging industry. While the organised retail and explosion in e-commerce offers huge potential for future growth of retailing, the packaging sector is a big gainer in the process. However, the per capita packaging consumption in India is still quite low at 8.7 kg, compared to countries like Germany and Taiwan where it is 42 kg and 19 kg respectively. But today the Indian Packaging Industry is highly competitive and offers solutions globally. Companies like Essel Propack Ltd, Ulflex Ltd and Cosmo Films Ltd are among the global leaders in the industry.

The Indian packaging market is expected to reach US$ 32 billion by 2020, according to N C Saha, Director, Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), the national apex body of the packaging sector in India. IIP was set up in 1966 by the packaging and allied industries and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, with the specific objective of improving the packaging standards in the country. The Institute is an autonomous body working under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce.

IIP endeavours to improve the standard of packaging needed for the promotion of exports and create infrastructural facilities for overall packaging improvement in India. This is achieved through the Institute’s multifarious activities which are today, in line with those of premier packaging institutes the world over. Headquartered in Mumbai, the IIP aims to make India a focal point for contemporary developments in art, science, technology and engineering, with respect to the field of packaging. With regional centres located at Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, the IIP conducts major activities like Training & Education, Research & Development, Consultancy & Projects and Testing & Certification.

Another organisation, the Institute of Packaging Machinery Manufacturers of India (IPMMI) is an exclusive national body representing the packaging machinery manufacturers in the country. They cater to the need of the packaging industry covering package conversion, packaging line operations, packaging systems, online and end of line systems, ancillary machinery and equipments besides testing and quality control equipments. IPMMI has members spread across the country. The primary objective and activities of the institute is to create awareness about the technical standards, provide technical advisory services to the members and package user industries, promote safety standards and extend training and educational programmes to the packaging industry, besides publications. IPMMI also aims to liaise with industry associations and institutions - both within the country and overseas, in order to help its members to update on the latest trends in the industry. The IPMMI also organises national and international conferences/seminars and expositions to promote the capabilities of the members besides addressing to various industrial and fiscal issues.