Vinay Krishnan, general manager of Afra talks to ME Printer about their latest offering and its competitive edge for converters in the region
AFRA Asianray Printing Equipment Trading LLC is a well-known brand within regional printing and packaging industry. The company was established in 1995 in UAE and currently has 4000 plus installations of print finishing and packaging equipment throughout the AGCC and East & West Africa Regions.
The company recently held live demo sessions of their latest offering, a highly automated Etirama narrow web press.
ME Printer caught up with Vinay Krishnan, Afra’s General Manager to find out more about their new press and company’s plan for printers and converters in UAE and beyond
How many people attended your live event?
We started our event on 1st of August and was live till August 20th. We have done scheduled demos where we spend quality time with our prospects making them understand the equipment well. Rather than bringing a huge crowd, it’s a more focused and exclusive demo session, where clients can spend quality time with the equipment, identifying and understanding the advantages, and the whole concept of the solution.
We have successfully completed 30+ exclusive VIP demo sessions in our demo centre, and around 20 virtual demos for our clients who were not able to be here physically due to travel restrictions.
Live demo sessions were conducted based on prior appointments only, by a fully vaccinated team, strictly adhering to comprehensive COVID protection norms.
The event was aimed at converters or printers in general?
Attendees were from a mixed basket of both converters and label printers. Commercial print businesses are now diversifying into the label and packaging market. Labels and packaging are good segments for diversification. A lot of commercial printers are ready to diversify. We had attendees from packaging printers, label presses, commercial printers, and new entrepreneurs as well.
What was shown during live demo?
The machine which was displayed in our live demo was the flagship Etirama SPS2 – an 8 colour press with multiple converting stations with all the embellishments. It is a versatile servo-driven flexographic press, which is definitely very sensibly automated, ROI guaranteed solution.
SPS2 is a product from a very well-established label press manufacturer, having 50+ years of experience in the segment. Etirama SPS2 is a superior technology equipment with shaftless press giving consistency in different print speed. This will be a game changer and a right solution for the market. SPS2 ensures much economic machine hour cost compared to any competitor machine without compromising the print quality or the technical side. This machine definitely helps to produce quality labels at affordable price.
What is the competitive edge of Etirama presses compared to other well-known European and American brands?
The biggest issue in the MEA label industry is that label converters are not able to get the desired returns on their investments. They are failing terribly because of the huge investments that are burning a hole in their pocket. The reason is that they have bought high-value equipment, despite the label market going through a tough time.
Etirama is renowned for affordable modular label presses with its print quality. The press is built using the Be Easy platform developed by Etirama to standardize internal processes and implement a lean manufacturing system.
The MEA print Industry is at a crossroads. There is a demand for labels and the market cannot afford expensive equipment. The Etirama SPS2 flexographic press is the right machine for the market as a 100% ROI-guaranteed solution, without compromising on print quality, and is equivalent to all the western European and American presses even with affordable investments.
By bringing the Etirama SPS 2, we are bringing in a technologically superior equipment under our strategy – “Looking beyond China”.
SPS2 is Product from a very well-established label press manufacturer, having 50+ years of experience in the segment. Etirama SPS2 is a superior technology equipment with shaftless press gives consistency in different print speed. This will be a game changer and a right solution for the market. SPS2 ensures much economic machine hour cost compared to any competitor machine without compromising the print quality or the technical side.
What is the competitive edge of Afra?
Afra is always a very prominent player in the industry. Looking at the last 2.5 decades, AFRA has played significant role in transforming the industry with affordable solutions with automations. We are always providing/advocate sensibly automated, ROI guaranteed equipment’s to the industry with strong long term after sales support, which are real need of industry, ensuring returns on the investments made by the investors. We are supporting the industry to make sustainable growth and future for everyone.
With a series of packaging equipment to the market, we are successfully converting commercial printers to packaging printers with very much affordable investment without compromising application with international quality.
With a reliable pre and post-sales support system providing proper consultation to the customer to figure out and resolve problems/ real issues they are facing; we work with industry hand in hand providing complete support and trainings.
We are very happy to say that we play vital and significant role to the industry in this tough situation with bringing revolutionary innovation and transformation. We are very happy to be part in making revolutionary changes.
Do you see interest from conventional offset printers to enter the label market?
Commercial, promotional, and retail printing used to be among the profitable print segments but have been declining. Print service providers on the commercial side of the business were making good money. That is slowly declining.
They are now moving to flexo and packaging segments. There is a huge issue with margins and there is a big price war in the commercial print market. The pandemic added to the misery of the already declining promotional and retail printing market.
We are seeing a considerable interest among the conventional printers towards label industry. We provide them the best affordable automated ROI-guaranteed solution for the industry, without compromising on the quality in all aspects. Print quality is equivalent to all the western European and American presses even with affordable investments.
Our strength is that we can turn commercial print businesses into label providers at affordable costs.
Etirama SPS2 is a solution for present-day problems for both, the commercial segment printers as well as the packaging segment printers.
How do you see the label market in the UAE and do you see a growing market for narrow web presses?
The label industry and label requirements in the region are mushrooming, especially the short and medium label segments, as well as the narrow web presses. Keeping up with market requirements, we provide them with affordable, guaranteed ROI finishing, and convert equipment to solve their problems and safeguard their business. The whole industry is changing and we are always part and very happy to change ourselves presenting the versatile equipment and business model catering to the new demands, requirements, and changes in the industry.
Last but not least, what kind of challenges you experienced during pandemic?
During the pandemic period, we also had challenges. 2020 was an excellent year to start up with, unfortunately by the end of first quarter, whole universe was stopped. Thankfully from the second quarter, we could limit the impact of pandemic, with a go get agile approach we could turn around within the second quarter.
Although we lost around a quarter in 2020, still we have done very well for the year during the pandemic period. The network AFRA have through the regions, with own foot fall, staffs and branches played a great role in the industry supporting with services, training and installations to provide prompt support at the earliest possible. We mobilised our team to provide after sales support promptly without any expected delays.
We have successfully completed credible projects in UAE ranging from automated bag makings, flexo projects and also packaging projects. Moving to 2021 with a great expectation, business is bouncing back to normal, holding good number of orders throughout the regions. With challenges beyond our control, still we are in a much better situation providing same level supports.