Avery Dennison is a leader in intelligent label solutions and the world’s largest ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) partner. This global materials science and manufacturing company’s products are being used in nearly every major industry, be it for industrial, medical, and retail applications. Pankaj Bhardwaj, Vice President and General Manager, is spearheading the company’s strategic and operational business initiatives in India and other SAARC nations. In the last eight years of his association with the company, he has catalysed growth, productivity and profitability for the Label and Graphic Materials business.
In an exclusive chat with The Blue Circle, Pankaj Bhardwaj speaks about Avery Dennison’s strengths, expansion plans and how technology is intrinsic to all their operations:
A pioneer in packaging
In virtually every segment, Avery Dennison’s products protect, inform, decorate and engage. In the words of the company, ‘they integrate the material with the digital’. They have a forward-looking approach that incorporates sustainability, coupled with passion and knowledge of experts backing them. Whatever be the application or design challenges, Avery Dennison’s solutions always win.
Pankaj’s extensive experience in the paints industry has helped him achieve breakthroughs in packaging innovation at Avery Dennison. He states that both industries have certain similarities. “Packaging and paints both cut across a very large cross section of consumer India, and have very close relationship with underlying demographic changes in the country. Both the industries have also seen and possibly shall continue to see, a marked technological shift, due to changing consumer preferences and improving focus around sustainability. While I miss the colourful world of paints, I enjoy the abundant sensory gratification of evolving packaging.”
When Stan Avery invented the pressure-sensitive label in 1935, he launched not just a company but a flourishing culture based on deeply held values like innovation, safety and committed corporate practices. Even today, the company continues to innovate, break new ground and set new standards in material science, process engineering and manufacturing.
Technology at the forefront
“Adopting technology sits at the core of our strategic direction. We have scanned opportunities across consumer experience, operational efficiencies as well as employee connections, and in each of these areas, currently, we have live projects at different levels of execution,” says Bhardwaj.
Intelligent labels or ‘smart labels’ are inlaid with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. These labels are rapidly improving many aspects of how we live – from the clothes we wear and the food we eat to our cars, medicine, and air travel. As the world’s largest UHF RFID partner, Avery Dennison is at the forefront of this transformation, developing pioneering integrated RFID solutions designed to help improve inventory management and loss prevention across the value chain.
“Brands can also choose to engage customers through label-embedded NFC technology, and make labels talk through augmented reality. Consumers get audio visual info just by using their phone, and brands get consumer data at hyper local level. Businesses in multiple industries choose Avery Dennison intelligent label solutions, including UHF, HF and NFC solutions, to boost efficiency, enhance visibility, and increase margins, while providing customers with greater convenience, reliability, and safety,” says Pankaj Bhardwaj.
From large-scale fleet wraps to customized vehicles, Avery Dennison also offers a wide range of cast, calendered, reflective and specialty films that guarantee vibrant, durable graphics that are easy to apply. Mr. Bhardwaj adds, “We are helping train coaches look beautiful and communicative through our wrap films. We are working with Railways to unlock value in the fast turnaround of coaches post refurbishment, as well as on ways to make them engaging.”
The company is committed to keeping pace with the rapidly-growing technology-driven world. Avery Dennison had hired their first AI-based chatbot, Amber, a few years back. Mr. Bhardwaj explains, “She helps me get real-time organizational pulse and remain better rooted, in addition to conducting employee engagement surveys. For an improved consumer experience, we have also launched an exclusive and unique, real time material tracking service for our customers that’s quite similar to food service delivery tracking. We have also rolled out elements of Industry 4.0 in the areas of connected planning, energy management and materials management.”
Diversity in workforce is key to success
At Avery Dennison, Diversity and Inclusion are key values of the company’s philosophy. The company boasts an eclectic workforce with Millennials and GenZ, constituting more than 80%, with Gen Z growing fast.
“Fundamentally, most generations have marked differences with the last, and this difference is growing with time. Clearly, generation Z has grown up with better economic prosperity, higher technological exposure and with far better understanding of the global socio-economic architecture when compared to millennials, who have experienced changes in family structure, higher independence and gender neutral perspective. It is evident that both have different motivations as well as aspirations, and hence, they bring varying perspectives and ideas to the organization. We see diverse employment as a big enabler to our success, and at Avery Dennison, we truly live our stated motto “Be different, Be you,” says Pankaj.
Vision for the future
Avery Dennison started their manufacturing in India more than two decades ago, and since then the company has invested and expanded their base to multiple folds. In the last decade, they have scaled up operations to four factories employing 1000+ people, invested in an R & D center, and state-of-the-art knowledge centre, known as the Avery Dennison Innovation and Research Center. It also exports products from India to many countries spread across three continents. Thus, making it an integral and active contributor in the “Make In India”campaign.
Besides, Avery Dennison is strongly committed to drive community service programs at all locations where they do business. “So far, we have made a difference to 75000+ lives in India by imparting skill training to women workforce (in collaboration with NSDC) and uplifting our next generation by establishing learning centers and community libraries where they can learn and become more skilled under the READ India project, “ adds Pankaj Bhardwaj.
When asked as to how the company is preparing for future disruptions, he said, “Well, we fundamentally believe that pace of change will never be as slow and hence we are building agile, customer centric and technology oriented organization. We are training ourselves to quickly unlearn and learn, fail fast and win fast.”
“As it is stated and evidently proven that openness to change is more than rhetoric, it’s the reality to survive and thrive,” he concludes.