How Pune Plastic SMEs are Using IT for Business Benefit

by September 18, 2015 0 comments

– Sameer Joshi, Vice Chairman, Indian Plastics Institute-Pune Chapter

Today, plastics and polymers are present everywhere from the lush green fields to clear blue skies. They’re present right from the morning when we brush our teeth to the car or two wheeler we use. From the mobile phone or the laptop we touch to the iPod, iPad and the mobile watch. The PCBs in the electronic industries or the cables in the wired world are all made of plastic so it is impossible to imagine life without plastics. They’ve made planes and cars lighter, and also help in keeping vegetables fresh. A heart valve is made of polymer and even blood is stored in a plastic pouch. Similarly you have disposable injection syringes that are also made of plastic. In other words,–Plastic is everywhere!
The Indian Plastic Industry and Pune’s Contribution
The Indian plastics industry is growing due to changing lifestyles, changing packaging needs, and by the year 2020, at least 20 million tons of plastics will be consumed by India. This is about 10 kg per capita today in 2015.
This comes with its share of problems as well. eWaste has become an issue that has to be sorted out. After all, for new technology needs, newer materials and polymers are the answer.
In the plastic growth story, contribution of Pune is also significant with many export-oriented automobile and white goods companies. The city of Pune and her surroundings have grown magnificently over the years. The industry is concentrated in a radius of 50 km or less. Pimpri, Chinchwad Bhosari, Chakan is one such industrial belt. Ranjangaon, Pune Ahmednagar Road, Hinjawadi, Pirangut, Talegaon, Pune Banglore Highway (upto Shirwal) are the other regions where most of the plastic industries are concentrated.
Pune is essentially an automotive (four wheeler and two wheeler), white goods (refrigerator, washing machines, etc), IT and to some extent electronic and electrical industry hub. Most of the plastic industries are ancillary units to these major sectors to the tune of 80 percent.
Each month, the Pune, (district and its surroundings in a radius of 50 km) plastic industry consumes around 8000 meteric tons of plastic raw material. The size of the industry would be around 6000 units (including support industries to plastics like mould makers, recycling, raw material converters, machining etc) with around 5000 units engaged in manufacturing. Out of these, 1000 units could be companies of a sizable nature being tier 1 to tier 3 suppliers to OEMs.
Challenges of Pune’s Plastics Industry
Getting electricity and skilled manpower at affordable rates are some of the challenges the plastics industry is facing. Frequent rise in raw material prices is another challenge. Around 65 to 70 percent of the product cost depends on the raw material, and availability of raw material at correct price is another factor.

IT Awareness Levels
Like in every sector, the awareness and relevance of IT is there in the plastics industry in Pune. Every small manufacturer or trader would have a PC at his home or office being used to run accounting packages like Tally. The bigger companies of course use SAP, MIS, or tailor-made packages for accounts or inventory management, production, logistics, etc. For design of plastic products, 3D modeling software and 3D printing are used. Online purchase of plastic materials, bulk purchases through online are very recent developments for the plastics industry. Our machines are being linked to the machine manufacturer through IoT.
The CCTV camera would be the simplest device connected to the mobile device of the owner, but nowadays the second generation of owners are in the business and relevance of IT, awareness is increasing.
When we think of the smallest of the entrepreneur, we need frugal engineering and the IT industry can help here. We need low-cost applications like Tally and free mobile applications that offer monthly services at affordable costs.
The plastics industry has contributed a lot to the making of the mobile phone, PC, PCB, cable, or the wire to make it cheaper and affordable. However, it does not have cheaper and affordable IT applications for its needs.
What Pune Plastics Industry Needs from IT
The necessity of IT relevant to the plastic industry in Pune and its challenges could be categorized as:
Basic Level IT: Have a website and email/hardware/original software
Companies have their own websites but do not promote them as most companies in Pune are ancillary units who are busy serving their customers. Internet connectivity is slow at the outskirts. Also, with falling hardware prices, software licensing fee should also come down.
Next level IT: MIS and Process Control
Such IT solutions are not tailored for the plastics user but are modified to suit the end user. If a person with plastic knowledge can develop the system to suit the plastic company, it will be widely accepted. However, reports generated from the system are not of the desired level. Also, the cost of implementation of the software, difficulty of implementation, handholding till the end, and the level of education of the owner of the company are some of the limitations.

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