Sakata Inx inaugurates new web-offset ink production unit in Gujarat

-excellent combo of technology, knowledge and human resource Sakata Inx has made news again…the company recently inaugurated their new facility in Panoli (Gujarat) for production of web offset inks. With this, the company hopes to become the third largest ink manufacturer in India. Here, Dr Kotaro Morita, president, Sakata Inx Corp and chairman, INX International Ink Co, who was in India to inaugurate the facility, reveals their plans for India in conversation with P&P editors SK Khurana and Varsha Verma. We started our Indian operations 19 years ago in 1995 with the import of inks. Seeing the surge in demand, we established a plant in Bhiwadi in 1998 with gravure business. In 2005, we set up a facility for offset inks for sheet-fed and coldest operations. In 2009, we set up another manufacturing facility for gravure inks in an 80,000 sq m area. These Indian facilities cater not just to the Indian market but also Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and CIS (Commonwealth Independent States) countries. As the new ink business grew, it was an obvious step to set up a new ink plant, told Dr Kotaro Morita, president, Sakata Inx Corp and chairman, INX International Ink Co.

Interestingly, the history of Sakata Inx Corporation dates back to 1896, as a manufacturer of newspaper inks and by 1948, made its foray in the international market. Today, the company has evolved as a global leader with an extensive product line of not only gravure, flexo, metal deco, offset and specialty inks but also a wide range of other printing and productivity related systems and raw materials. “Globally, we are the fourth largest ink manufacturer while in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines, we stand as the number one,” told Dr Morita.

Talking about the revenues generated by different inks, Dr Morita revealed that gravure ink accounts for the biggest share. The company has manufacturing facilities in eight countries, including China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, UK, Manchester and India. “Capacity wise, the facilities in Indonesia and India are largest units. In terms of revenue, both these plants were more or less same last year, but in this quarter, the revenues from India are higher,” he added. While VK Seth, managing director, Sakata Inx (India) Ltd added, “India has a bigger potential. At present, our export from Indian facility is 15 percent of our sales but we hope to achieve a target of 25 percent.”

Since Sakata Inx India exports to many different countries like Africa, Eastern Europe, CIS countries, etc, where temperature differs a lot, they customise the products accordingly. “To facilitate this requirement, we have invested profusely in R&D and have four engineers stationed in India, who are continuously developing new products,” he said.

And it is not a standalone arrangement… customer needs are prime. “We interact with our end-users and develop product specially meeting their requirements,” told Seth, who gave an example of Coke which needed an ink which dries off in labeling machines which apply 1,200 labels a minute. “This is just one example, there are many,” he told. Discussing more about the Indian market, Seth explained, “Here, ink is very competitively priced. In fact, it is decided by the customer. It is a continuous challenge to meet our customer expectations as regards to price and quality product. Our R&D engineers are continuously working to reduce our own costs and wastages.”

And to reduce costs, Sakata Inx always keeps trying to procure indigenous raw materials but few materials like Titanium dioxide, carbon black and oils still need to be imported as these are not produced here. “We indigenise maximum to reduce on cost, without compromising on quality, though we procure key black-box material and add-on products from Japan,” shared Seth.

VK Seth, MD, Sakata Inx (India); Dr Kotaro Morita, president, Sakata Inx Corp and chairman, INX International Ink Co; and Naohisa Yasui, MD, Financial Div, Information Systems Div, International Operation Div, Sales Administrative Div, Sakata Inx Corp, Osaka.“Another major challenge is to continuously train our staff to be technologically competent. Technical people are trained to take on trials and solve customer’s problems. Besides, continuous improvement in the inks is another challenge we face,” added Seth. Talking about the environment-friendly products, Dr Morita shared, “We get the direction from Japan and ensure that no negative listed product is used and we comply with the various standards of different countries.” He also mentioned about the Soybased inks that were successfully developed for sheet-fed offset inks.

What next? To this, Dr Morita replied that they are coming up with new products every day. “There is an increasing demand for UV inks and digital inks. We are working in this direction. We already supply digital inks to many digital printer manufacturers as OEMs.” So, is there any acquisition plans on cards for expansion like the one in US during 1988? To this, Dr Morita replied, “Companies acquire for equipment, technology and human resources. We have the technology and knowledge, we can install better equipment. So, as of now we do not need to acquire. We may expand on our own.” Seth echoed his views and told that they have been experiencing a YOY growth of 21 percent, every year they have been investing in plants, expansion and growth. They hope that the new plant at Panoli will add more value to their existing business. “We have an excellent team and do hope to be number three ink manufacturers in India soon,” concluded Dr Morita.

Group Publications