Career in Packaging Technology

Career in Packaging Technology

Career in Packaging Technology

PUBLISH DATE 1st May 2018

Packaging is a major component of commercial success of any commodity worldwide. Today success of business depends on how good the packaging is. Packaging is an aggressive tool for marketing, which enhances the brand value and product differentiation on the shelf. Now, it is not just about wrapping or protecting the product, it is also about attracting the customers and creating image for the product that it encloses. In today’s world, packaging has not only become a source for tracing and  tracking a product, it is also  responsible to prevent counterfeit of any valuables. It consists of important information such as hologram which ensures safety of the product, labelling which encompasses the mandatory compliances for nutritional facts of a food product. A lot of advancement has been observed in the field of packaging technology such as use of retort processing in ready to eat food products, UHT processes, modified atmosphere packaging, Nano packaging, active and responsive packaging. These emerging technologies have diversified the study of packaging technologies and hence increased the scope of the same. With the ever-increasing production of multiple product range into market on daily basis, the need for packaging experts has grown manifold and this profession is also getting increasingly recognized. Aspiring students can benefit from this industry as it provides national as well as international platform. This article will present all important details about packaging courses and its vast career opportunity.
Packaging Industry: At a Glance
To see the economic growth in the Indian packaging industry, necessary government reforms should be introduced from time to time. It has also been proposed that the Indian packaging industry will sustain the growth @ 13-15% CAGR within the next 4-5 years. According to the Packaging Industry Association of India (Economic Times 2017), packaging in India is one of the fastest growing sectors, partly because it spans almost every industry segment. Right from packaging of food and beverages, fruits and vegetables, drugs and medicines, to highly dangerous products, packaging has led to greater specialization and sophistication over a period of years. The packaging market in India has become the sunshine Industry which is well supported by favorable demographic aspects such as growing urbanization, rising proportion of middle class consumers, increasing disposable income levels, rising consumer awareness and demand for convenience and processed food. The multinational giants taking rapid strides in the food, beverages, cosmetics & toiletries and pharmaceuticals space, are expected to be the key drivers of this growth story in the field of packaging. These changes drive the need for packaging reforms, such as different sizes, materials, and strength. This key factor is responsible for both packaging suppliers and end-user industry to shift from bulk packaging to retail, unit-level, primary processing packaging unit and small-sized packaging. In addition, organized retail growth and newly relaxed FDI investment norms in retail and other sectors predict well for packaging market in India. The Indian packaging industry will see notable growth over 2016-2021, growing at a CAGR of  9.2% as compared to 6.2% during 2011-2016. During the last 10 years, the size of the industry has doubled from around US$12 billion to US$24.6 billion, and market observers as well as industry experts believe it will gallop further to US$32 billion by 2020 and even cross the US$50 billion mark by 2025. Not only this, the industry is also creating lucrative, innovative jobs in the field of packaging. Furthermore, with the ever-increasing industries dealing with manufacturing and designing of various kinds of packaging machines such as Form-fill seal machine, stretch wrapping, shrink wrapping, palletizing etc. has contributed towards the need for popularizing packaging technology. India's per capita consumption of packaging is only 4.3 kg per person per annum, as against Germany's 42 kg and China's 20 kg, which is very low compared to global standards. Initiatives are needed to convert the large unpacked commodities into processed and packed and well-presented commodities. India's imports at 20-25% with a value of US$125 million of its total packing machinery indicate further opportunities not only for Indian companies to increase their share in domestic market but also for International companies to explore new business opportunities in India. During the period 2016-2021, the Soft Drinks and Food industries have the potential to be the highest packaging market share gainers (by units) with share growth of 3.4% and 1.3% respectively. The growing organized retail sector has been a significant driver of the growth especially in the Food & Beverage industries, which in turn drives the growth of Indian packaging industry. In addition, innovations in the packaging industry, such as the development of lighter packaging with better barrier properties, add to the improvement of packaging industry. In terms of packaging material, Glass and Rigid Plastics have the ability to be among the major segment, with growth of 0.7% and 0.6% respectively during 2016-2021. Flexible Packaging is leading the pack type in the Indian packaging industry and will grow at a healthy CAGR of 8.9% during 2016-2021, with major contributions from the Food, Household Care, Cosmetics & Toiletries industries. This success is largely driven by its low cost and flexibility to suit multiple shapes and sizes, convenience (zip-locks, plastic closures), and low-carbon foot print on the environment as compared to Rigid Plastics. Furthermore, the increasing eminence of low-density flexible packs in high protein foods is expected to drive the growth in the future. All this clearly states that there is tremendous scope for growth of the packaging industry in India.
It has also been predicted that the Indian packaging market in the world, shall become the fourth largest market in the world. After all, the country is the world's second largest producer of food (next only to China), the second largest producer of vegetables and the third largest producer of fruits in the world. In case of spices, India accounts for 44% of global trade in terms of quantity and 36% in terms of value. While the sector presents a lot of opportunity for large players, there are attendant challenges due to lack of regulatory clarity arising from multiple legislations that define the sector; the need to meet more stringent packaging norms laid down by the entry of global players as well as the rising consumer awareness on sustainable packaging, requiring a shift to more green materials and innovations that require investments in R&D as well as infrastructure. Indian packaging industry is highly fragmented with a large number of small scale industries and a few large integrated players. Due to this constant growth and development in conversion technologies of packaging industries, a need has risen for qualified packaging engineers who can deliver professional suggestions about the different engineering component of packaging machinery as well as operations. 
Career in Packaging Science and Technology Offers a Global Platform
Global packaging market is expected to expand up to US$975 billion by 2018 and grow at an annual rate of 4%. Asia alone has the potential to represent over 40% of the global demand.  There has been an increase in demand for the flexible packaging. Presently the flexible packaging is growing @ 4% amounting to more than 16 million tons, with value exceeding US$ 50 Billion. Such enormous growth observed in the world market will definitely provide a new creative path for students' career. Such global opportunities for students will help to prosper the future of packaging industry.
About Packaging Science and Technology
Packaging is the science, art and technology protecting products for distribution, storage, sell, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and ensuring safe delivery of the product to the customers. It is described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. It is heavily integrated in our day to day lives and one cannot just simply do daily chores with any form of packaging. Packaging also encompasses numerous disciplines from science, technology and engineering to printing, marketing and graphic design. Broadly, the areas cover design, manufacture and marketing. Packaging technology offers multi-disciplinary careers and requires specialized knowledge of the materials, processing, design, quality, and environmental trends. The science of packaging technology guides about right packaging material and right shape from the preservation as well as production point of view based on his/her knowledge of chemical and mechanical engineering. Designers and artists who can innovate and design attractive eye-catching packaging that stands out on the shelf are always in demand. It is used for several purposes like: innovative and sustainable designing and carrying information that makes attractive display and facilitating transportation and storing of products. It must protect the products from all types of contamination, different types of hazards and damages i.e., mechanical, physical and environmental, stresses during transportation and storages. Packaging education will cover topics such as packing of food products, logistics and physical distribution, packaging process, quality control, communication skills, package marketing, package economics, packaging laws and regulations, industrial electronics, applied mechanics, printing technology, machine drawing, production management and packaging management, among others. When we talk about packaging design both as functional design and graphical is an important part of packaging system which includes printing as integral part of the system. There are different types and classification of packaging on the basis of its use and the materials used like, primary, secondary and tertiary packaging system, consumer & unit and bulk packaging systems, along with ancillary materials used for Packaging Industry.  Paper and paper board corrugate box industry, plastic packaging, glass packaging, metal can, fiber drums, composite cans & laminates are the major materials used for packaging.
Career Opportunities in Packaging
It is not only Indian B-schools and IT sectors that are on the radar of international academic community. Now, packaging institutes, too, are attracting great attention. There are more than 35000 packaging units throughout the country and most of them are unorganized and lack of skilled man power which requires on an average 3000 packaging professionals annually. There is great demand of packaging professional worldwide. Graduates in any science stream or engineering and technology back ground can choose packaging as a career. Packaging professionals are in great demand in packaging industries and it is highly desirable that the executive in charge of packaging must either know or have access to technical knowledge on the methods and materials for construction of packages. The courses in the field of packaging combine many skills pertaining to the packaging industry of food products, textiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and automobiles. One may also find career in the study of packaging design, printing and its machines. There are some 600 to 700 packaging machine manufacturers, 95% of which are in small and medium sector and located all over the country. According to a recent estimate, there are more than 22,000 registered packaging companies in India, more than 85 per cent of which are MSMEs. The larger companies are           highly capitalized and usually involved across the higher value-added activities like material production, innovative products and design and higher volume supplies catering to the larger demand segments like F&B and cosmetics. The MSMEs in India are usually companies involved in the lower value-added activities like conversion, filling and production. The organized sector in India accounts for roughly 50 per cent of the volumes whereas the balance is highly fragmented and distributed. Globally the scenario is somewhat more consolidated - roughly 75 per cent of the global packaging industry by value is accounted for by 20 per cent of the largest integrated global players.      
Perks and Remuneration
Packaging Professionals can join in any positions in material management, stores, supply chain management, R& D, Converter Industry etc.  Packaging divisions of the user Industries like food processing industries, robotics, pharmaceutical, chemical, electrical, automobiles and electronics industries. In the beginning, salaries may range from 3-7 lakhs in general. However, there is no upper limit as this sector is flourishing. Career growth would depend upon the skills and capabilities of the professionals. Packaging professionals are offered jobs in the areas of production, purchase/ marketing or R&D in leading packaging industries including MNCs with a good remuneration. The Indian packaging industry is growing more than the double rate of global average but it is also creating lucrative jobs for those who find a career in it. There is also positive trend in pharmaceutical and FMCG companies, in the current scenario, packaging companies both large and small are looking for Indian packaging experts who can bring value to their products and incorporate higher levels of technology. After implementation of FDI in retail chain there will be tremendous job opportunity in packaging sector.
Challenges for Packaging Professionals
Packaging is an important key for domestic as well as commercial market. Promoting packaging industry as per the mandate of Govt. of India under the Make in India Mission will contribute in the improvement of the Indian economy. In a cost-sensitive market, the pressure to reduce packaging costs is intense. While the demand for more sophisticated packaging is on the rise in India, with it comes additional pressures on cost for packaging suppliers.  Now there is a sea change in Packaging in recent years with development of novel methods like MAP, CAP, Intelligent Packaging, Nano Packaging, Active Packaging, and Smart Packaging systems with well developed technology for enhancement of shelf life like Aseptic Packaging, Retort Packaging and Vacuum Packaging.  With a shifting socio-economic landscape, a move towards the consumption of more processed foods has resulted in a doubling of the growth of the food processing sector to 13.7%  and hence use of packaging materials. Hence, there is need for consumer awareness and government policies to focus towards use of sustainable packaging technologies. The government has taken steps to promote reuse, reduce and recycle under the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Studies indicate that various packaging technologies such as use of biodegradable packaging materials, bioplastics or edible packaging is likely to witness popularity largely due to its ability of producing minimal waste. Packaging experts design the packages, which protect the goods in different phases from production line to customers which shall enhance the sales of the products. Based on the chemical and physical features of the respective product, packaging technologists decide what kind of material shall be used for packaging wrappers of the goods under consideration. While making such recommendations, they keep environmental, legal and logistical concerns in mind. However, India still has miles to go as the modern concepts of packaging were less appreciated. Whatever progress has been made in the recent time, involves just around 5% off freight, while 95% of items are still conveyed unpacked. Nevertheless, there is a growing awareness in the country  that packaging helps preserve the quality of the product, protects consumer health and enhances the export prospects of the product, leading to greater foreign exchange earnings for the country.  Skills required to survive in this industry is creativity, out of the box thinking, keenness to learn, awareness  of present marketing, communication skills etc.
Top recruiters in this sector are:
Following are the prominent industries in the field of packaging:
ITC Ltd., Nestle, GSK, Ranbaxy, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Dabur India Ltd., Cadbury India Ltd.., Reckitt Benckiser, Johnson and Johnson Ltd., Castrol India Ltd., Coca-Cola India Ltd., Uflex, Paharpur 3-P, Sun Pharma Pvt Ltd, Aimil Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Automobile companies, textile companies, etc.
Packaging Institutes in India
Only few institutions in India are running Packaging Course like IIP, Anna University, Tamil Nadu, Guru Jambeshwer University Hisar, SIES School of Packaging, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, and IIT Roorkee are offering packaging course and Indian Institute of Packaging is one of the pioneer Institutes in this field of packaging. With the expected elevation of the Indian Institute of Packaging as an institution of national importance, there will literally be a revolution in packaging education in the country. Moreover, WPO has ranked IIP as the second-best Packaging Institute in the world after Michigan University USA.
The Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India based in Mumbai and its branches in Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata, offers the following
 
Table 1: Institutes offering packaging courses in India.
Sl.
1             
Name of the Institute   
Indian Institute of Packaging
Courses Offered
*2 years Postgraduate Diploma program
*Short term training program
                               
Sl.          
2
Name of the Institute
SIES School of Packaging, Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra)                                  
Courses Offered
*2 years postgraduate program in Packaging Science & Technology 
*One-year Graduate Diploma in Packaging Technology (Part time)
*One-year Graduate Diploma in Packaging Technology (Distance learning)
*Industry oriented short-term courses
Sl.          
3
Name of the Institute   
Indian Institute of Technology,
Courses Offered
*2 years postgraduate program in Roorkee Packaging Technology 
Sl.          
4
Name of the Institute   
Government Polytechnic, Nagpur
Courses Offered
*3 years Diploma in Packaging (Maharashtra) Technology
Sl.          
4
Name of the Institute   
J.N.Govt.Polytechnic, Ramanthapur, Hyderabad
Courses Offered
*3 years Diploma in Packaging Technology          
programmes:
Post Graduate Diploma in Packaging (two-year full time): This course is open to all graduates in science, technology, engineering and allied fields. Admission is through an all India entrance exam conducted in June every year in all metro cities. Admission forms are available in April and the course begins in August. The course is conducted at Mumbai and Delhi. The course has four semesters, of which three are offered at the campus of the institute while, for the fourth semester, students work on projects in different industries across the country. The course has been conducted for the last 28-years and many past students are working in reputed national and international companies. The campus placement helps to place almost all students.
 
Packaging as A Tool to Double the Farmers' Income: To secure the future of agriculture and to improve the livelihood of half of the population of the country, doubling farmers' income is a necessary challenge. Implementing primary packaging processing at farm level will contribute towards minimizing post-harvest losses and manage agricultural waste disposal systems which will accelerate the process of increase in the income of the farmers. About one-third of the increase in farmers' income is easily attainable through better price realization, efficient post-harvest management, competitive value chains and adoption of allied activities. This requires comprehensive reforms in market, land lease and raising of trees on private land. Thus, packaging technology serves as one of the major solutions to improve the economy of agriculture in India.
 
Eligibility: Graduation with minimum second class (in 12 +3 mode) with mathematics, physics, chemistry and microbiology or agriculture, food science, polymer science, engineering or technology as main subject or second subject. The final year students are also eligible to apply. However, they shall submit their degree certificate by the time of interview or have to forego the opportunity.
Entrance: Admission into this course is made based on the candidate's performance in the written test and interview. The written test consists of multiple-choice questions from mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering subjects, up to under graduation level. The test is conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata; and the interviews are held at Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata. For more details may visit official website of Indian Institute of Packaging: iip-in.com
Courses in Entrepreneurship Development: Certificate Programme in Packaging (Generally Three Months) specially design for packaging Industry. This course is suitable to develop entrepreneur skills in Packaging sector. 
Eligibility: Degree in Science/ Engineering/ Technology/ Commerce/ Arts and one-year work experience. Or Diploma in Engineering/ Technology and two years work experience.
Packaging Courses for 10+2 Students
A few polytechnic colleges in the country are offering courses in packaging. The programme offered by these polytechnics includes six-month industrial training. Admissions into these programmes are made through Polytechnic Common Entrance Test conducted by respective states. After the diploma, students can opt for a job or continue their studies by enrolling for engineering degree. They are eligible to study mechanical engineering, industrial production engineering, automobile, aeronautical, and mechanical, marine branches.
Distance Education Programme: This 18-month course starting in January every year is designed for working executives who are graduates/diploma-holders in different disciplines but need packaging knowledge by virtue of their job requirements. Successful candidates are awarded a graduate diploma in packaging technology, accredited by Asian Packaging Federation (APF). For more information you may log onto:  www.iip-in.com.
The author is Joint Director and Regional Head, IIP Delhi. E-mail: amtanweer@rediffmail.com

 

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