Understand customer needs for better market penetration
In 2005, Condot Systems, with the Danish HS Automatic ApS, introduced TIJ technology using eco friendly water-based inks in the Indian pharma packaging industry. Three years down the line, Jigish Chiniwala, Managing Director, Condot Systems tells Manjusha Morgaonkar about efforts to increase awareness of this product
What is the significance of ‘Non-contact dot printing’ technology to the pharma packaging industry?
‘Non contact dot printing’ technology is printing of variables without coming in contact with substrate, which is known as Ink Jet Printing (IJP) as well. IJP is available in two main technologies used for variable date printing: Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printing and Drop on Demand (DOD) technology.
The big limitation of this technology in pharma packaging is the use of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) as a solvent for manufacturing and maintaining viscosity of the ink. MEK is a highly volatile aggressive hygroscopic solvent that generates fumes which are hazardous to health, and therefore must not come in contact with medicines. With CIJ technology, the bigger limitation is the spillage of MEK on the epoxy floor of the factory during the frequent cleaning of printing head with MEK. This requires regular refurbishing and leads to wastage of money and valuable production time. Due to MEK based ink most pharma packaging demands eco friendly water based ink.
DOD technology works with either piezoelectric print head or Thermal Ink Jet (TIJ) technology. Piezoelectric technology still widely uses solvent-based ink. This technology is used to some extent by pharma packaging industries, but the Indian heat and humidity restricts usage of this technology. After a lot of study on limitations of CIJ, we introduced TIJ technology.
What are the benefits of this technology?
TIJ technology uses water based ink, small drop size, high resolution ink jet technology. The benefit of this technology is that it uses water-based inks which can print on most paper labels of any size, mono carton, unit packs or shipper cartons. This technology with eco friendly ink and solvent can be used on blister packs as well. It is environment friendly water based ink that will not release odour or fumes in the packing area. Sealed cartridges are used in this technology, hence, there is no need for any routine maintenance. It is used normally like office desk jet printers with virtually no maintenance. The operator has to simply switch on the electricity to start printing.
The significant advantages of this kind of system over other technologies is that it can print very clear readable characters up to 0.8mm print size, hence, we can have readable characters on small ampoules and vials as well. It can print any kind of barcode such as normal barcode, 2D code, complex code, pharma code etc. It also allows Windows fonts to print, hence, it does not need any kind special programming to print other languages. It can print graphics and can also be used it for printing the shipping mark. Since it is a cartridge system, we can print with any ink color. It is also possible to print special codes in UV readable (Invisible) codes if needed for security reasons. Other benefits include easy maintenance by even shop floor people and low initial and running cost as compared to other ink jet technologies. It also allows the use of different DPIs for different print quality. Simply put, it has Fast, Draft and Fast Draft modes of printing.
What is the size of the coding machines market and what is your market share of this market?
The size of coding machine market in India is too big and it is also very difficult to judge. Coding machines are not used only in pharma packaging but also in all kinds of packaging like food, automobiles, cables and wires, etc. But we concentrate more on pharma since it is the area where we can support industry by using eco friendly ink. There is long way to go before we actually talk about market share for any company, since according to us, it will need at least another five to six years of hard work and cumulative efforts by industry, media, and government just to educate people about the ink jet concept and its advantages.
Who are your customers based in India and abroad?
As we mentioned there is lot more penetration required in the market. Hence we have just scratched the tip of the iceberg with few customers like Cipla, Zydus Cadila, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Ranbaxy, Lupin, Abott, Lyka, etc.
Who are your competitors?
We normally face major competition from people who misguide customers into buying wrong technologies. Hence due to lack of penetration, it is difficult to penetrate and educate the whole industry at one time. We have many MNC companies in this business. Even though they are our competitors, they support us to generate market awareness and faster coverage of such technology, which will help Indian industry to grow as per global standards. There is a vast untouched market, even after everyone gets their share of business. We would talk about brand competition if there are limited avenues to sell the same product made by many people, but we are still not in that condition. In a few companies, you find more than one supplier but those are rare cases.
What are your future plans?
In the near future, we are planning to launch new water-based inks for printing on non-porous substrates like plastics and foils.
How do you explain your company’s motto “Efficient and good service on time at any cost”?
When the machine is down for any reason, total production suffers and in turn, total revenue of the company drops. Therefore, we have to try to service within 24 hours maximum. We depute our engineer with a spare machine and replace the machine if required to start production without any waste of time. We pay a heavy cost for such service.
Condot has signed an agreement with Hewlett Packard, so that it can display the HP trademark on certain products. Could you tell us the impact of this agreement on the company’s image in the market?
Most Indian industry prefers to use HP desk jet printers and our customers know about HP’s eco friendly products. Thus is it easier to make them understand how it is acceptable for pharma packaging. Hence, the HP brand name definitely helps market penetration.