Interview with Mr Brijesh Patel, Managing Director, Aerolam Decoratives LLP
Q 1: As a market leader in the packaging / converting sector what’s your strategy on ‘Make in India’ and serve the world?
We are fully aligned with the Make in India initiative of the Government, the agenda of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and the new Industrial Policy 2020 introduced by the Government of Gujarat. Our vision is to manufacture products which our country is importing from other countries and make it self-reliant. We intend to bring the paradigm shift in the packaging and manufacturing sector. As a part of it, we have recently invested almost INR 100 crore to set up a new manufacturing plant in Gujarat. With this new facility, we would contribute to the state government's agenda, for creating more jobs and introducing the latest technology for improved productivity. We also plan to launch new and revolutionary products which are environmental friendly, recyclable and highly cost-effective. All our efforts are aimed to achieve an accelerated and balanced economic growth by building an innovation-driven ecosystem.
Q 2: Which markets do you foresee to offer more growth once the COVID-19 situation improves? How will buyers in India respond to expansion and investments in your technology?
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has impacted every sector in India construction, manufacturing, automobile, aviation, travel and tourism, retail and many more. The complete shutdown of the economy has hampered the economic activities in the initial few months, however, COVID-19 induced lockdown has fast-paced the shift in mindsets to adapt technology in both industries and consumers. Even when the crisis dies down, the businesses are likely to witness significant disruption in the upcoming months. Only the ones who are more resilient, adaptive, and agile will survive this phase and the silver lining is appearing in manufacturing of automobiles; healthcare is gaining and even construction activity is expected to pick up soon. Technology has been at the center of everything we are doing nowadays. There has been significant growth witnessed in the sectors like digital education, agri-tech, FMCG, e-commerce, digital marketing, fitness apps, entertainment and gaming apps, digital news platforms and virtual events.
Talking about the insulation industry, we are confident that our technologically advanced products will change the way the products are being transported going forward. All our products are environmental friendly, recyclable and cost-effective. Cost implications can lead to business shutdowns as well. The investment in our technology is imperative for optimising costs. For example- Aerolam Bubble Guard can help companies reduce the transportation packaging cost by almost 60-70% across industries. CFB boxes can be used twice or thrice in logistics. However, the packaging material and boxes developed by our company using Bubble Guard can be used up to 70-100 times, depending on the usage and handling of products. This reduces carbon footprint and brings in cost efficiency. So, we are confident that businesses will adopt our innovative products and technology sooner than expected.
Q 3: What were some of the important measures you took to get back from lockdown and how did you serve your clients despite challenges of the lockdown?
As I mentioned earlier every business was affected and ours was no exception. The business was initially down by 30-40% due to close down. The good part was that we had an order book of/for almost six months. No doubt some orders were delayed, but post opening of the economy, we right back on track with full operations. Reducing salaries for everyone in the company by 15% only for two months was the only cost-cutting measure we took.
Q 4: COVID-19 has thrown multiple challenges to manufacturers. What are some of the innovations that made this challenge into an opportunity?
While August data highlighted positive developments in the manufacturing industries, signalling moves towards recovery. From reduced staff, relocation of quality employees, higher raw material cost, delivery times lengthened, disturbed supply chain to restricted cash flows and low demand are some of the new issues for the manufactures marked by the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Along with gauging shift in the market requirements and introducing innovative products, the focus of manufacturers is towards ‘planning and optimisation’. Skilling, upskilling and reskilling has become much more important now. It will help in increase in productivity, cross-functionality of teams and to make business prepare for the future and increase employee efficiency as well as productivity. Touching upon the critical supply chain challenges manufacturing companies are grappling with in the present times, the implementation of new software solutions deployed needs to be rapid and prepare shop floors for tomorrow. In my opinion, employers will need to now focus on three things – employee well-being, saving cost and taking care of risk management.
Q 5: How do you compare B2B exhibitions in India and abroad especially with events in Germany and China? Do you see India emerging as the go-to destinations of Converting/ Packaging event?
The packaging is the fifth largest sector in India’s economy and is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country. According to the Packaging Industry Association of India (PIAI), the sector is growing at 22% to 25% per annum. The potential is humongous for India to be emerging as the go-to destination for holding world-class converting/ packaging events but at the present moment, it is difficult to understand how COVID-19 pandemic will play out in relation to the packaging industry. Keeping in mind the problems of air travel, visa, quarantine and constraints on large gatherings, we do not anticipate offline B2B exhibitions to be held till the end of this year. However, the virtual event segment has gained a lot of momentum in the past few months. These virtual events have provided a way for industries to stay connected and move forward for the benefit of us all. Like other sectors too, there are a few industry events and exhibitions are planned in packing & packaging as well as logistics & transportation sector in the upcoming months.