Gaining new grounds in production capacity

Allan Chettiar, Business Head Packaging Division, INTERTECH TECHNOLOGIES PRIVATE LIMITED

The keyword today is the use of technology to improve the speed of manufacturing and go-to-market through automation wherever you can apply it, according to Allan Chettiar, Head Marketing, Intertech Technologies. In a free-flowing interview to Cosmedic India, Allan shares deep insights about the cosmeceutical market in India and how his company has been demonstrating a stellar growth due to its focus on technology and understanding the customer needs.

What is the business focus of Intertech, domestic market or exports?

First and foremost, our focus is the Indian market. The volume of business that we are currently generating in the India market alone makes us feel quite upbeat about it. Intertech Technologies is a strong, 300-plus people organization. We have a pan-India presence with our head office located in New Delhi. The Delhi HQ also houses a complete service set-up with a team of engineers and support teams. We have service stations in more than 20 locations in India. In the Northern region alone, we have more than 300 clients. Situated in Vasai near Mumbai, our manufacturing plant covers an area of over 1.5 lakh sq ft.

How do you operate? Is it direct distribution or through channel partners?

We don’t have any channel partners and all our clients are direct. Looking at the exports market, we do supply machines to countries such as Denmark, the Middle East and we have a strong presence in the CIS countries (Commonwealth of independent states) as well. We have our own exports managers in these countries taking care of the sales and service support to our clients in these markets.

In the domestic market, which is our key focus area, we offer end-to-end solutions to our pharmaceutical, cosmetics and cosmeceutical clients. We provide a complete solution covering design, machine, manpower, and material flow. While doing this, we also comply with a range of standards and regulations such as good manufacturing practices (GMP) and the global industry best practices.

We focus on delivering turnkey packaging solutions. In turnkey packaging, there are firms that offer only consultancy services about business know-how and there are companies who have their products. Intertech is involved in the complete project implementation. We also update the client about the recent developments in packaging machines as well as new trends in automation, ways to save on manpower costs and provide end-to-end support.

What are the customer-side trends that you see in the market today?

There is a clear trend towards opting for a single supplier partner who can shoulder the full responsibility of providing multiple solutions and services. Earlier, companies engaged with a range of suppliers for different products. However, things are changing now. For example, currently, we are implementing a turnkey project for Himalaya Wellness, which is into cosmetics, personal care as well as ayurvedic medicines.

The companies with such a diversified portfolio earlier bought machines from multiple suppliers. But today they prefer engaging with us as their sole solution partner to carry out turnkey project implementation. Besides complete project implementation, we also help our clients upgrade their equipment by providing them with state-of-the-art packaging machines helping them meet their faster go-to-market needs successfully.

What do you see as the latest trends in the cosmeceutical creams space? What are your customers looking for?

When you speak of creams, lotions or viscous and semi-viscous products, nothing much has changed except for increasing level of automation being incorporated in the process. Much like the pharmaceutical companies, even the cosmetics and cosmeceutical players are looking for machines that can help them further their GMP compliance agendas.

Leveraging our years of experience working with pharmaceutical companies, we are helping our clients in the cosmetics and cosmeceutical segments—such as Godrej and VLCC—to meet the same stringent production and process standards that pharmaceutical players follow.

We have been helping our clients in these segments to upgrade to the pharma level from manufacturing equipment and processes standpoint. We deliver automation such as PLC systems and SCADA based equipment. Traditionally, in the cosmetics vertical, the documentation part has not been looked at very seriously. As a company, we are helping our clients in this space to adopt various types of documentation levels such as Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Clients start seeing value in adopting these good practices soon after implementation. The third area that we focus on in this segment is the performance of the machine and equipment. With the use of onboard diagnostics and predictive maintenance, the upkeep of machines can be streamlined. This helps our clients to cut down on production downtime and comprehensively eliminate resource wastage occurring due to sudden mechanical disruption.

Some of our equipment comes with built-in automation and controls. We have our in-house automation team that comprises PLC programmers. The software they build helps facilitate communication with the equipment using IT interface systems.

In the talcum powder segment, what are the things that clients are looking for?

Considering that handling powder is a messy affair, the challenge is that you have multiple store keeping units (SKUs). In the powder segment, the production speed (high volumes in short time) and process accuracy to curb wastage are the most important factors that clients look for. In case of filing machines, while some clients opt for full-scale automation, others go for a semi-automatic approach. It depends on a company’s production capacity as well.

However, when it comes to the handling of higher volumes, a semi-automatic machine can’t do the job effectively. There, you need high-end packaging machines, primary filing machines. Lastly, clients are also looking for equipment that can contribute to the compactness of the whole line.

Intertech has been an innovator in the powder handling segment. There was a vacuum in the powder handling machines segment especially when cosmetics companies needed machines that could handle high volumes with speed. The pharmaceutical sector already had high-speed and accurate machines for dry powder injections in the range of 1ml, 3ml and 5ml. We realized that there are not many good manufacturers for those type of machines in the cosmetics space. So we invested in technology and research to develop great quality process equipment specifically for the cosmetics and cosmeceuticals segments.

What are your key challenges?

While the business is going good, we have been experiencing infrastructural bottlenecks during the execution of these orders. Poor road connectivity, costly transportation, scarcity of clean and reliable power continue to be some of the issues perturbing the Indian industry even today. We also face an acute shortage of employable skilled workers.

Any expansion plans?

Through our continued investments in business growth and R&D, we are looking at expanding our production capacity to meet the future demand.