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INTERVIEW

“In coming years, the competition will be much tough”
Monday, 06 May, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Suma Corporation, a Chinese, Suzhou- headquartered inspection technology company, has set up its India operations in Ahmedabad. It is a supplier of inspection systems for bottling lines. It has systems which can check the product quality and container quality. Its inspection systems work at high speed bottling lines to check label, cap presence, level, and so on. The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems can read what is written on label and can detect if the literature written is right. There are also systems which can check the code presence and whether the coding is written right. Since the company is already high technology-driven it uses artificial intelligence like robotic motion palletisers. Sunil Kachru, head, Indian operations, Suma Corporation, in an email interaction with Nandita Vijay gives further insight about the company and future challenges. Excerpts:

When did the company enter India?
We entered India in November 2018 with a vision to provide value for money for technology in the field of inspection systems for food, beverage and alcohol. Our aim in  India was to be a reliable and trustworthy solution provider. Now we perceive the India market as an important growth market.

How much was the investment for the India facility?
Initially we had a budget for one sales and service office in Ahmedabad. We will have a service centre in Delhi and Bengaluru as we are sure to get quality business in India and accordingly we will expand our operations.

From India, we will look for markets in neighbouring countries. Therefore higher investments are expected for the future. But currently our emphasis is to create a brand image in India. Globally, we have come out as a dependable and big brand and want to replicate this image in India. To be able to grow in any market in the world, the first and foremost thing to create a good image in the minds of customer and that can be created with accessible, user friendly, reliable and cost-effective technology.

What products are there for India market for the food and beverage sector: Is it the  complete line inspection machines for PET, HDPE, CAN and glass line, including container sealing and leakage detection, barcode recognition, management system and other imaging inspections; and supplies customised solution, according to customer demand?
We have inspection technology for almost everything. From particle check, cap check, level check to label check, and for PET, HDPE and glass apart from Empty Bottle Inspector (EBI). There is also a technology to check particles and leakage in pouches both in-line and off-line which is of great use in dairy sector for milk pouches. Further, there are technologies which can further be bifurcated into different sensing systems required for particular product and container. There is technology which covers everything in line  from blowing moulding to dispatch. The off-line inspection systems usually are required in the lab. The company is also known for customised solutions. The latest technology of inspection systems is software based and we are having many projects to cater to customer-specific requirements in the beverage, alcohol and dairy sectors.

How receptive is India for these products?
India is slowly becoming quality cautious and in coming years the competition will be much tough for all sectors to provide a good quality product. Thus inspection technology will be very important and compulsory. The market has to be receptive in the coming years. As on date, we are facing many challenges to make people understand the importance of inspection systems for quality product. Our effort is to provide full support through technology to all Indian customers so that they can improve their quality and productivity. Those companies which see inspection technology as expensive for high speed lines, will see our offering to be cost-effective.

What are the company’s key strengths?
We are strong in artificial intelligence and customers can access high quality technology at a reasonable price. There is dependable after sales service. Equipment is easy to operate and maintain. These are the key strengths to have been able to grow globally and also in the Indian market.

Artificial intelligence is the future. We have already developed useful robotic systems which are being enquired by the Indian market. This technology also we have developed is cost-effective.

Give details of operations in India.
Presently we are in Ahmedabad and our future plan is to have after sales service centres in Delhi and Bengaluru. As indicated earlier, India is a key market and our parent company is planning for a bigger setup in India.

Is there manufacturing in India? How easy is to get the right workforce to work at the company?
We do not have a production plant as yet in India. However, there could be plans for the same in the future.

Now coming to accessing the right workforce, in India usually people are hard working and efficient so one can get good workforce, but for inspection technology it is little difficult to get the right person. However, we have a facility to provide training and update them as per the latest technology and software.   
 
How would you describe the current scene for packaging online inspection and product safety protection in India and globally? What are the visible trends in this space?
India is still struggling to get right technology at right price. That is why in India you will see most of the companies do not go for inspection systems.

Globally, Europe and America are far ahead in the adoption of inspection technology. Now Suma must create awareness in India and neighbouring countries on the access to reliable technology at a genuine price.

The trend is moving towards quality and good product of inspection systems for bottling plants.

What are the challenges in this market?
Major issue is the lack of awareness about technology. Another problem is that customers cannot access an expensive inspection system and therefore we will reach to these customers to update them about our technology which is of global standard at a right price. India also presents a number of bottling manufacturing companies. In order to cater to this market, the ideal platform would be exhibitions, press meets and visits to customer locations to highlight the indispensability of inspection technology.
 
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