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By TPCI | November 15, 2019

Incorporated in 1923, WIMCO has been providing complete packaging and automation solutions through world class practices and a competent, engaged workforce. It has been the pioneer in tube filling and cartoning solutions since 1981.

With three decades of rich experience pre-dominantly in industrial packaging, automation, mechanical engineering and the B2B space, Samir V Limaye has been spearheading the organization’s growth plans as a Vice President at the Engineering Division.

In this interview with Indusfood-Tech, Limaye shares his journey of 14-long years with WIMCO, the challenges associated with it and the new industry trends, which he looks at as an opportunity to explore and expand. Below are few insights from the conversation:

Indusfood-Tech: Tell us about WIMCO’s growth trajectory and what transformational changes the company’s engineering division has undergone under your able leadership?
Samir V Limaye: Since 1981, WIMCO Limited’s Engineering Division has been providing packaging solutions to the cosmetics, consumer and pharma industries. Our current portfolio includes tube filling machine, cartoning machine, wrapping machines, loading machines and conveyor solutions; design and development of special purpose machine, packaging lines and system integration remain the other major areas.

Furthermore, identifying new growth opportunities and avenues has been the most challenging job and subsequently addressing it successfully has resulted in an overall transformational journey. The transformations have brought glory and success to the organization because we had a focused approach. Business process improvement, product innovations, adopting best practices and bench marking with global companies in our space have been the key focus areas for almost last 14 years. However, I believe in raising the bars and looking at new challenges and targets positively.

Indusfood-Tech: What are the key product categories you cater to? And what are the major end-use sectors where you are witnessing good demand for your equipment?
SVL: We cater to consumer products & cosmetics, pharmaceuticals & nutraceuticals, food & beverages, engineering and auto components.

However, the tube filling machines and cartoning machines are the two main product categories of WIMCO, which are known to be the best even among the overseas customers. We see per capita consumption in miniscule percentage, when it comes to various product categories, which go into tubes. I see an extremely bright future in this category, as over the years, we have registered huge demand upsurge in food, beauty, pharmaceuticals and other industries.

Moreover, we opine that there will be an equal upsurge in demand for packaging equipment. Owing to its decades of rich experience in the packaging industry, I am sure WIMCO can satisfy this need.

Our cartoning machines are capable of handling all objects and packs and styles, which can meet customer’s expectations. We are quite optimistic that our products will fetch good traction from the industry players.

Indusfood-Tech: What are the latest trends in evolution of packaging materials and technology? How are you adapting to them as a company?
SVL: There are country and region-specific trends, which are very evident. There are also trends with respect to purchasing power.

For instance, let’s say we focus on tube filling machines and cartoning machines in Africa. The purchasing power, the size of the SKUs, the grammage to be packed, shelf appeal, the kind of plastic used and more factors will determine the kind of machine and technology they need for packaging.

However, with the demonstrated past of our phenomenal three decades of presence, we feel pretty confident about our successful solutions. We have worked across continents and exported our machines to, practically, all geographies.

Also, there is a trend coming along the way, where sachets are packed into cartons from a point of view of safety, protection, brand visibility and convenience for the end users. Hence, we are leveraging this opportunity as well.

Indusfood-Tech: How strong has been the role of the R&D for your business to be a success? Any major R&D/innovations that you might wish to share with us?
SVL: We need to do two evaluations; the product life cycle and the industry life cycle. As I mentioned, most of the products, which have been launched in the food, personal grooming & cosmetics space have been into a very early stage of their introduction in India.

Needless to say, our products like tube filling and cartooning machines were at a very nascent stage, when we started. However, today the sophistication, traceability, accuracy levels, speed, hygiene & the safety features which are demanded in the industry are being consistently inculcated in our machines. We have made a conscious effort to ensure that we spend a sizable percentage of our revenue for development of new features, modules and improvements in equipment, which meet the requirement of the end customer.

Indusfood-Tech: Any new product to be launched or new feature to be introduced in the coming months?
SVL: As India becomes a country where consumers are aware, manufacturers are responsible to provide good products and machinery manufacturers like us are sensitive to the fact that traceability and tractability of what is being packed, when and where, needs to be embedded as a part of the standard feature.

Pertaining to the same, we have recently introduced a mechanism, where end consumers can also track and trace when a particular product was packed and in which factory and even in which shift. We have our own automation and mechanizing process to enable this.

There are other new introductions like vision camera-based solutions. They help assure factory production and quality managers that whatever products they are shipping out are safe and there is conformity available without any human intervention. Thus, we are making products safer, conforming to global standards and keeping consumers happy.

Indusfood-Tech: How do you plan to expand your business in the next five years?
SVL: We clearly see export growth as one of the important vehicles for our overall growth. We definitely see some agency business by joining hands with some European companies. Further, we also plan for some innovative products and product features to be added within our own expertise and domain, which is tube filling and cartoning.

Moreover, there has been a huge propensity for growth in the domestic, neighboring international markets and the markets of South East Asia and Africa. We would be looking towards these regions and others for exports.

Indusfood-Tech: What has been the progress of your business on the export front and which are the main markets you have successfully penetrated? What are your future strategies to tap your potential target markets?
SVL: For various reasons, we could not do large export business earlier. However, with specific, structured and a disciplined intervention by way of our visibility program in Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and S.E. Asia, we are looking at good possibility of growth. In the last 5-7 years, we have already achieved a respectable stage where we are exporting close to about 15-20% of our revenue size from almost zero or a negligible stage. Going forward, we would like to scale it up as the market is large.

We see good opportunities in Africa and S.E. Asia. In fact, we envisage tremendous amount of growth and enquiries pouring in from America. The growing cost of labor in China, which was a sourcing destination for USA, has catalyzed our visibility in the market.

Indusfood-Tech: What could be the challenges faced by you in the business expansion internationally?
SVL: Technological advancements and norms for US FDA, GMP Norms etc. have been some challenges faced by us in exports. However, I am sure that we, in India, have strength and expertise to meet and survive such challenges and shortcomings.

Moreover, there are some backend supply chain challenges, wherein SMEs and MSMEs who cater to us as component suppliers, also need to augment their skills, capability and infrastructure. Only then, we, the machine manufacturers, can look up to the US market, which is a top class market today demanding the highest sophistication, speed and compliance with respect to US FDA or GMP.

Indusfood-Tech: How do you see Indusfood-Tech as a platform for the growth of the industry?
SVL: First, we, as a part of IPMMI, see the Government of India taking this tremendous initiative to support small and medium enterprise and the packaging machines and equipment manufacturers to showcase their technology. With this support through Ministry of Commerce and TPCI, we are sure of a good outcome.

Second, the brand owners from different global markets who are looking for sourcing from India are being assured by TPCI by way of B2B engagements and hosted buyer concept. I believe that Indusfood-Tech would grow as a larger show in the days to come.