It started as a micro enterprise which has become a Rs crore company of quality products with an indigenous flavor. When Chandubhai Virani and his brothers Bhikhubhai, Kanubhai and Meghjibhai emigrated from a small village in the district of Jamnagar to Rajkot. His father Popatbhai Virani was a farmer, who sold the land of ancestral agriculture and gave Rs. Viranis invested money given by his father in the agricultural equipment business, but he could not succeed and lost the money.
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In its 16th year of operations, the Rajkot-based flexible packaging company Balaji Multiflex has made some bold investments to set up this new factory that spreads over 20 acres of land.
Plus the company has backwards integrated with a new Varex three-layer blown film line. Two Nordmeccanica solventless laminators join the converting arsenal. The remaining eight laminators - six Nordmeccanica, two Comexi, and two Pelican — currently installed at the old plant will soon be shifted to the new facility.
Two prominent specs: it is a mm wide machine and it boasts a maximum printing speed of metres per minute. The fully integrated Vision system enables exhaustive and real-time monitoring of job works and process flow. Easy-Sync: It enables easy and quick pre-register setting.
Heliocontrol: The register control system maintains register accuracy at high-speed. Advanced drying system and web-guide system for superior quality printing.
Turboclean G: The ink supply a wash-up system supports fast, effective and energy-saving job changeovers. When WhatPackaging? Running at 82 metres per minute in the beginning, the machine speed was ramped up to metres per minute within a few seconds and the camera-based auto registration system indicated zero loss of registration. That is impressive. Noteworthy is that the machine is extremely quiet even while operating at such a high-speed.
Plus we have ordered one Pelican-Cerutti machine, which will be commissioned soon. Sr Bhalara, a commerce graduate, who managed a small anodising business, was keen on trying his hand at something new and challenging. Thus with a mechanical line shaft gravure press, a solvent-based laminator, and a slitting machine, Balaji Multiflex made modest beginnings producing six tonnes of packaging material every month.
Over the years, as Balaji Wafers grew, the packaging converter continued to add capacity. In , the junior Bhalara, after completing his hotel management degree from Switzerland, returned to India to join the family business. His first project was to set up a canteen facility for his employees. How else will you be ahead of the pack? We have invested around Rs 2.
For example, the ink department. We worked on our ink management in such a way that we appointed one dedicated supplier for each machine. But more than that, we realised the harmful effects of toluene and ketone on the shopfloor workers. We thought, for the better health of my people and the people who use my products, it makes sense to spend extra than use harmful carcinogenic materials. We used to supply the conventional vinyl inks. He entrusted Hi-Tech to start the shift from the conventional toluene-ketone inks to the non-toluene non-ketone NTNK ink system.
Toluene-free has been an industry buzzword for quite some time. The question is whether or not it has been successfully implemented.
However, one must understand that being toluene-free is the start and not the end. A packaging material needs to encompass overall safety mechanisms at all levels and ingredients of the packaging material. There is quite an exhaustive list of substances that are harmful including a large list of pigments, resins and additives. Even on the solvent side, there are solvents like Benzene and Xylene that are probably worst in nature than toluene.
Ketones as a solvent are not the easiest to remove from the laminate and thus risks having higher solvent retention levels. Besides, with more and more converters going for both gravure and flexo printing presses, it gives the ink company and the converter an opportunity to work with a single ink system with suitable solvents on both presses.
One also needs to keep in mind that Ketones too have their own share of health hazards like dizziness, dermatitis, and nausea. We have ensured that our NTNK ink systems are completely free of hazardous raw material inputs. We are affiliated with a laboratory wherein we send all samples for a thorough analysis before launching them into the market and test them based on the Swiss ordinance and EU regulatory norms.
A continuous dialogue needs to be developed for updating the authorities and brand owners on such initiatives for the benefit the society at large. However, we have been using NTNK inks for last one and a half years. Even ketones are carcinogenic.
We supply to food companies. Therefore we shifted to NTNK inks. Balaji Multiflex was also the first Indian flexible packaging converter to invest in a solventless lamination machine from Comexi in All the exhausts at the new plant meet at a one-point exit, which will connect to the solvent recovery plant. Working with mono solvent inks is difficult.
So we started with NTNK but in future will develop capabilities for printing with mono solvent inks. The reason, he says, is stronger packs signifies better product, however, more importantly, thicker packs create value for ragpickers and in a way enables circular economy.
A dream project Balaji Multiflex has spent Rs crore to set up this greenfield project. We wanted to improve our quality quotient so much so that when people think of good quality flexible packaging, they should turn to us. We wanted to be a lighthouse to the Indian flexible packaging industry. We wanted to defy this assumption. I believe we have been pretty successful.
He opted for this width despite experts suggesting that the best gravure presses are the ones which are one-metre wide. The rationale behind this, according to Bhalara, has to do with run lengths getting shorter and the pack sizes getting smaller. In a one-metre wide machine, generally, we can accommodate three ups. When you use a shaftless machine, you can build heavy cylinders, which allows you to print additional ups along the circumference. So, for jobs where we were printing two ups, we can now print three ups.
And at the same time, this machine can print at metres per minute as opposed to Indian-made machines which can print at a maximum speed of metres per minute. Bhalara understands wastage is the biggest deterrent in a converting business. If you control wastage, everything else is under control, he says.
This is also the reason why the company has integrated backwards to add a 2. This width can accommodate twice the width of the printing machine. Pranav Bhalara with his cousin Nirav Bhalara. This layer is crucial as it is also the sealing layer. We were facing a lot of challenges from the outsourced vendors. When the price of the granules escalated, they used to change the raw materials and the quality of the film used to get hampered. High-output air ring for better bubble stability, effective film cooling and high throughputs.
If we save at least five per cent of raw material in the long term, then it gives us an edge. Today, Balaji Wafers is one of the significant players in the branded snacks market. As reported by The Economic Times, in till September Balaji Wafers clocked sales of Rs 2,crore becoming the second-largest in terms of individual brands in the segment. Balaji Multiflex, which is the largest supplier of flexible packaging material to Balaji Wafers has followed suit. From six tonnes per month in , the packaging converter today produces 35 tonnes of packaging material every day.
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