Young generation speaks about their approach and plans with the Paper Industry

The Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association (IPPTA) held a zonal seminar on energy conservation at Vapi, Gujarat, discussing the theme of Energy Conservation, Cost Reduction and Developing Alternate Source of Energy

During a penal discussion, the second and third-generation entrepreneurs of the established paper mills in Vapi give their take on the current situation of Paper mills and share their future plans, ideas, and approach to take their paper mills to a new height of success. 

Vapi | November 2022 | The Pulp and Paper Times: 

(Moderator: Mr. Tushar Shah, Daman Ganga Board Mills Private Limited)

Panelists: Mr. Abiali Jani, Director Jani Sales Private Limited, Mr. Pritesh Shah, Managing Director Shah Paper Mills, Ms. Fazilah Nathani, Director Mehali Paper Mills, Mr. Prince Shah, Best Paper mills, Mr. Kunal, Director Revival Paper Mill, Mr. Varun Shah, Shree Ajit Pulp and Paper Mill, Mr. Aditya Gupta, Sudhir Paper Mill.)

Moderator: What is your take on current situation? Most paper mills in Vapi and Gujarat are recyclers and not manufacturers. They are paper converters, and their problems are different than problems of the integrated mills. Some mills are not sustainable, some are closing down, and some of them are not producing enough and are making tremendous losses. Would you believe there is abetter future in paper industry, especially in Vapi? 

Abiali: Yes, I believe there's a lot of potential in the paper industry. Recently, I was just reading an article where India is contributing 16% of the world population and our consumption in the paper and paper board is just one percent. So, if you put the capital consumption of paper, we are still at 13 kg compared to the world which is using 200 kgs per person, so there's a huge potential. Since COVID, there's a lot of development in e-commerce industry which has picked up a rapid growth, brands like NYKAA, Amazon, Flipkart has been using a lot of packaging, and packaging development is being focused.

Moderator: With the current capacity of paper mills in Vapi and mostly the small-scale paper mills is 40, 50, or 100 tons, how do you think that the viability and sustainability of these mills can be ensured?

Abiali: According to me, you need to study what kind of a project you want to put up. Traditionally, we see the mentality that if someone has put up a project, that project is running well, let's copy that. There are people investing half the amount of work the successful project has done and they are expecting that they would be able to produce that product which is practically not possible. A lot of investment goes in the technology, which people need to understand before getting into the project.

Moderator: Earlier, there was no concept of recording water or electricity consumption, but now once we started to monitor it everyday, we see that there is a decline. Few years ago, the coal consumption, not to feed the power plant, but just a standalone plant was about 275- 325 kilos per ton of paper and electricity consumption was between 275 to 375 kilowatt per ton. Today if any mill records water consumption below 2.5 cubic meters per ton and report yields up to 90 to 92 percent or more, I don't know how this is possible. What would you think that you can save on and what are your targets in the next eight years? 

Varun: The power cost will always go up, all you can do is bring new technology or increase your efficiency, increase your control methods, and work on sort of a Kaizen system, which is a ruling of your processes rechecking then evaluating that will eventually lead to your decrease in power consumption increasing in your efficiency. In terms of raw material, again because our Recycled Fiber has increased so your field is going to go down. It's all I believe links back new technology, I would personally just focus on technology, improving efficiencies to get better results.

Pritesh: We need to work on across all the aspects to prepare ourselves for better future. We need to work in each and every direction to make more efficient and leaner production, which will help in profitably. We already invested in wind and solar power and by 2030 our target is to reach up to 30 percent of our total energy requirement.
Moderator: Your staff and workers are important; how do you plan to improve the lives of people working in your organization? 

Varun: For us when it comes to workers welfare, we provide health checks, and focus a lot on safety in terms of our practices and work procedures. We have regular workshops, and medical checkups at our factories, and bring awareness to all sort of Silent killers that are associated with the workplaces. One of the major ideology my dad focuses on is women empowerment and girl child education.

Moderator: In terms of a lot of factors sustainable growth in fact is the only is the key to future, what would your company define sustainability as? 

Kunal: Whatever you do should be coincident with your long-term projects 7-8 years down the line, and quality developments and sustainability should be there with the profitability and just not the growth. At every platform you reach, you have to be there for some time before you climb the second one. So according to me, sustainability is increasing efficiency and making it affordable, and at the same time, good quality will get you clients.

Moderator: It is okay to set up targets. Would think about cutting down or increasing the production, and what would make you take this decision?

Prince: After doing such a heavy capex investment we expect to earn. I think in the last two years we've all learned that we're not no short of capital investment. India has a lot of potential and we've been actively investing in paper mill and other Technologies. So the bigger question is that we are not here to improve our production increase our production or decrease the production but to make profit. Ultimately that will lead us to two more questions; 1.We should look at the varied products that we can make on the same machinery. 2. We are facing a lot of competition domestically, so we need to expand our Horizon towards International Market.

Abiali: I don't think decrease in production is in the state when there's a lot of potential. India is not in a position right now where you want to decrease the volume or decrease the production when you know the energy prices and how it's happening in Europe where the gas cost itself is went so high that you can't put that cost to the product. It's not the situation here, we've got a good potential in terms of infrastructure and manpower, so I would definitely want to increase the production.

Aditya Gupta: India has a capability of producing good quality of paper and when we say that it is a very good quality of paper that means efficiently producing it with the best of the cost parameters that exist for the industry. So according to me, the grade for which a paper mill can produce it very effectively they should increase that capacity within their unit to compete internationally.

Moderator: I have a specific question for Mr. Aditya, can you see paper replacing plastic?

Aditya: Yes, and no. I have been dealing with this subject for last 10 years now, and I have worked with plastics I have worked with regenerated study tools, and bioplastics. I have tried combining paper with each and every kind of material that exist right now as a choice of packaging material. Plastic offers a functional barrier property which is generally moisture barrier and oxygen barrier which gives the shelf life to the product. But a good paper can definitely replace plastics in that application where the commercial sense of the final product makes brand owner accept paper as a choice of material. 

Moderator: From 5 tons per day to 750 tons per day, Nathani group have grown substantially, what is your take on it?

Fazilah: I think one of the main reasons is that parents put great emphasis on their fundamental values when they've built it right to the bottom of the company. So everyone follows the same thing, my dad always says that we must ship what we have promised.  I also see them being technical themselves so that they're not dependent on others and decision making and the execution happens fast, and it is efficient.

Moderator: In this competitive world, how to scale the production and business up?

Fazilah: The scale of production is directly dependent on the cost of production, and technology. Some of small and medium scale Industries might not be able to afford those and that possibly is a bottleneck for them to give up the required quality in their products. A lot of factors need to be considered, but in the past, there have been a lot of small paper industries in China and in the US that if it goes down, it is replaced by some of the largest Mills of the world. Because when large Industries come in, they bring lower costs and quality products so it becomes difficult for the smaller ones to compete. However there could be some advantages like location specific advantages in remote areas in India, where they could use the Agri residue as Raw Material. 

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