Cyclonic storm Fani was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to strike India in recent years, causing severe damage, traffic chaos and closure of Kolkata airport. With the airport closed, no Editourmobil around and appointments waiting for us in Uttar Pradesh state, there are not many options left. We decide on the 25-hour train ride to Bareilly. Of course, we are not alone and thousands of other travellers have opted for a train ride in order to circumvent the closure of the airport. After arriving at Bareilly in the middle of the night, we book into a hotel near the railway station. We continue our journey to Haridwar by car in the early morning. Finally, we arrive at Haridwar, one of the holy cities in India. Here the sale of alcohol and meat is strictly forbidden. It is also the home of Fresh Pet, the preform manufacturer. Ten years ago, Sachin Bharti decided to start the first preform manufacturing of its kind in this peaceful and quiet environment. The area is also a special economic zone where the government provides incentives ranging from tax cuts to cheaper energy. As we learn later from other discussions, Haridwar and its surrounding area is a favourite spot for the stressed and overworked people from New Delhi. It takes only about 4.5 hours by car from the busy capital New Delhi to this quiet and holy town.
Back in Bareilly we are looking forward to our next visit: the edible oil manufacturer B. L. Agro. We heard from various sources that they have a very pleasant, modern factory. But this is an understatement. The plant is fantastic! Just a few months ago, the well-known television “Discovery Channel” paid a visit to the company and filmed an edition of its Mega Factory series here. And this for good reasons. B.L. Agro has one of the most automated PET blowing, filling and storing facilities in Asia. We meet the Director Ashish Khandelwal, the mastermind behind this Mega factory. He explains in detail the reasons why they decided to go for such a high level of automation and the necessary steps to transform its edible oil packaging facility to this showpiece of factory. Also present during the discussion is Ramneek Vats, founder and CEO of Balaji Polymers who supplies all the preforms to B.L. Agro. Balaji Polymers and B.L. Agro both consider each other as “partners”. And here the word partnership means what it says. The two companies work together, grow together and had many common extraordinary development projects underway which included both bottle design and closures. More details and pictures will be published in the print version of PETplanet.
The next day, we are glad to meet Ramneek again in his Balaji Polymers company which is located in the outskirts of New Delhi. No surprises here. The production of preforms is running as smoothly as clockwork, and in the same very clean and orderly environment as the previously mentioned Mega factory. The injection moulding machines, basically the heart of any preform production, are running at full capacity. Remarkable is the low number of people actually needed to run such an operation. A few operators are present, checking parameters and looking rather relaxed. To sum it up in a headline: “Preform manufacturing in a relaxed frame of mind”.
By Michael Maruschke