Automation Packaging Industry Automation Products Have Tremendous Potential in Packaging Industry

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Gefran India – a 100 per cent subsidiary of Italy-based Gefran group – offers automation solutions, primarily to the Indian plastic industry. The group is a complete solution provider having its own components for automation, sensors and technologies for system integration and motion control. In an exclusive interview with PROCESS India, Bhupesh Katakkar, Managing Director of the company, is delivering his views on the scope and challenges in the Indian automation industry...

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"Today, if you talk about automation, we are only looking at plastics" –Bhupesh Katakkar, Managing Directorof Gefran India in an interview for PROCESS India. (Picture: PROCESS India)
"Today, if you talk about automation, we are only looking at plastics" –Bhupesh Katakkar, Managing Directorof Gefran India in an interview for PROCESS India. (Picture: PROCESS India)

PROCESS: What kinds of automation solutions are currently in demand in India?

Bhupesh Katakkar:: Any user looks at automation for a few basic purposes — the process has to be very clearly and automatically finished, maintenance should be very easy and it should reduce requirement of manpower. To satisfy those, automation parts have to be of very high quality, and designed based on the latest technology. In the past, there were different kinds of chips doing different activities— (say) one was just operating and the other one (say) was doing graphics, yet another one was managing the mathematical calculations. But now, only one chip is doing all these. So, the size of the PCB is reducing, there is an overall reduction in size of the product.

Thus, finally it leads to saving of money. This is happening basically, because of new chips or integrated chips. Indian users too are looking at form factor reduction in automation products.

PROCESS: Which industries are you eyeing at now?

Bhupesh Katakkar: Today, if you talk about automation, we are only looking at plastics. Gefran traditionally has been into plastic business for more than 40 years. So in India, we are trying to follow the same footsteps. Centering plastic, we are trying to explore other industries.

But, we are in many other industries because of our motion and sensor parts. If you look at our sensor parts, in many industries — like chemical, textile, cement, steel, you will find our sensors. We’ve more expansion plans.

PROCESS: How is the potential in plastic industry?

Bhupesh Katakkar: It’s growing fast in all possible directions, (say) automobiles, buildings, white goods, healthcare, toys, sports equipment and so on. It’s very cheap and easy to work on. In the past, many things were kept in metal enclosures, today plastic is replacing that. For example, previously the body of the washing machine used to be metallic, today it’s coming with 40 per cent metal and 60 per cent plastic. The same is the case for refrigerators, air conditioners and so on. In automobiles too, to lower weight, they are growingly using plastic.

PROCESS: How do you find the Indian market?

Bhupesh Katakkar: I won’t say it is the product only that makes you enter. It is important to satisfy the requirement of the customer, if that is fulfilled — everything is on its way. The requirement may be price-centric, it may be related to delivery or payment terms or functionality. After all everybody expects better result. The standpoint is – I do this, now I want this… What can you give? My result is 100 now, I need 110 or more at the same cost... — So, I say, if you satisfy his requirement, things are much easier. Also, I don’t think ‘price’ is the winning point everywhere. It’s more of ease of using the product, and how much comfort can the product provide to the users.

PROCESS: How difficult is it to retain efficient manpower in automation industry?

Bhupesh Katakkar: Today, manpower retention is a big issue. If you look at the engineering industry or automation industry statistics, we are running at six per cent plus employment rate. So, it’s

very difficult to get people — who can really demonstrate and use high-end products. People are more inclined to software today, as they offer better start salary. Our industry doesn’t allow us to pay more than a certain range, otherwise we won’t be able to keep some money for expansion. But, within a span of five to ten years, finally the people of both software and automation industry will reach the same goal. We need to put extra effort to build and retain talent in automation industry.

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