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The SIES SOP/ PTC has a long association with the pharma industry

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P V Narayanan, Chairman, SIES School of Packaging/ Packaging Technology Centre, talks about the journey of SIES SOP/ PTC institute and how it is catering to the pharma industry with its courses

Being the chairman of SIES SOP/ PTC institute, what are your responsibilities and how do you execute them?

P V Narayanan

Established in 2001, the SIES School of Packaging has made considerable strides and earned a reputation of  premier centre for training and education, packaging design and development, laboratory services besides a resource for promotion and information on various aspects related to the field of packaging. Expansion and strengthening of the activities and addressing to new potential activities, as well as creating a stronger industry – institution relationship would be the key goal. The task is being achieved through enrolling more and more industry members, organising and conducting industry-oriented programmes, identifying and initiating R&D projects with other educational research bodies with active support and participation of the government and industries are being vigorously followed. Strengthening of the laboratory infrastructure with testing and quality control equipment with state-of-the-art inputs are aimed to expand the laboratory services besides bringing in packaging and packaging related industries. Towards promoting goodness of packaging, it is proposed to work together with similar organisations and promote exhibitions and conferences/seminars with leading packaging exhibition partners/associates for international and national events. Promotional events include Star Awards for excellence in packaging, besides undertaking R&D activities either on its own or with industries or other educational and R&D institutions. Significant importance will continue to develop qualified packaging professionals to bridge a long felt gap in the industry. Progress have been made to affiliate with overseas packaging institutions, with student and faculty programmes, joint research and academic qualifications.

The SIES School of Packaging/ Packaging Technology Centre (SIES SOP/ PTC), the apex body of SIES has initiated the Corporate Industry Advisory Body. Give us an update on the developments and the key activities.

The prime objective is to create an industry body and conferment of the ‘Fellowship of the SIES SOP/ PTC’ with a view to extensively and actively involve a cross section of the industry representing packaging media, ancillaries, packaging machinery and systems. The presence and support of such leading industries would help to streamline the resources and facilities besides identifying other inputs needed towards the activities and services extended by the SIES SOP/PTC. Contribution from the industry veterans with extensive knowledge and experience also help us to continuously review and update our educational curriculum and identifying specialist faculty and industry visits, which in turn helps the student community. Their help and assistance also facilitate the students in their group projects and inculcates a higher confidence level. Industry acceptance of the students for industrial training and internship adds considerable value in the quality upgradation of the students. They also provide references who the SIES SOP/ PTC could reach out in respect of all activities.

What challenges do the Indian pharma industry face in the packaging sector? Can it be addressed by introducing new courses or training? Which courses do SIES SOP/PTC offer in pharma packaging and how many batches are over so far?

The SIES SOP/ PTC has a long association with the pharma industry and its facilities are extensively used by them. These primarily include the laboratory services, training, education, package design and development. The centre also has the privilege of mutual NDA for the services rendered. Some of these also actively participate in promotional events like awards and recognition for excellence in packaging. Specific sponsorship given for best student in ‘Pharma Packaging’ underlines their closeness and contribution. The laboratory services used on a regular basis is indeed noteworthy. The centre also has expertise from the pharma sector. It would be of interest to add that with the close association of the packaging materials, packaging machinery and significant ancillaries besides leading pharma groups, the SIES SOP/ PTC has announced a two-day orientation programme on ‘Packaging of Pharma Products’, which is scheduled to be held at the auditorium of SIES SOP/ PTC from March 13-14, 2018.

Deliberations are aimed to address the niche areas which the pharma sector needs to update and upgrade. The sector needs regular interaction to bridge the gap. Regulatory measures, standardisation, quality assessment parameters, selection of right material, right process, adoption of new materials and systems are few of the areas which needs attention. Development of application oriented with corresponding specification details is necessary which would ease the procurement and acceptance/ rejection criteria. Establishment of quality system, trained manpower and corresponding infrastructure is of extreme importance and should be a given a priority. The SIES SOP/ PTC, in this context organises short and long-term programmes besides hands on training in laboratories on quality inspection/ testing of packaging materials and packages and performance evaluation of packages. It is of equal interest to learn that the pharma sector, year over year, has been extending their internship training to SIES SOP/ PTC students and on a regular basis absorbs the SIES SOP/ PTC qualified candidates as part of their packaging team.

The next endeavour of SIES SOP/ PTC will be to identify and address specific areas covering either product groupwise or packaging wise. Such interlogue is envisaged to cater better services that would be more in depth and beneficial. The SIES SOP/ PTC also has now extended its arm to this industry through its packaging audit and design and development services.

How many students have received placements?

A reference has already been made to the co-working of SIES SOP/ PTC. Herein, the information desired to be shared is the packaging professional and career development particularly the two-year year Post Graduate Course on ‘Packaging Science and Technology’ introduced in the year 2001. Over the 16 years, a total of 500 students have post graduated from the SIES SOP/ PTC. Whereas a handful have moved out of the country for furthering their academic or better placed jobs – majority are with the industries within the country and most of them have moved the ladder to hold enviable positions and industries of a cross section by nature viz package converters, package users, packaging machinery besides ancillary sectors. Their areas of operation also are spread over quality control, production, R&D, sales/ marketing/ business development etc. The placement is thus very encouraging.

Our endeavour is to strengthen the infrastructure and activities. Update and upgrade the educational programmes with more and more specialisation as well as associate with overseas reputed educational universities. Currently, we are in association with the Rutgers and Cal Poly University, the US. We also have a similar student exchange programme with the GIPT in Mumbai. More are being planned. Simultaneous to this, the SIES SOP/ PTC also is on a progressive path with the expansion of the laboratory and technical services to help the industry in their quality and best package requirements. The distance education and part time one year duration course have reached out to more and more people. Product and industry-oriented orientation programmes will be streamlined more to cover different packaging and user sector. Yet another important goal is to introduce a graduate technology employment oriented course of three years duration and mid-term two to three month duration programme for working industry and academic faculty members. Dialogues are already in progress with industry associations outside Mumbai to extend the distance education programmes. A specific area related to shop floor personnel training to generate technicians – at operator levels, is also being looked into.

How many industry associates have partnered with SIES SOP/ PTC and what role are they playing?

The SIES SOP/ PTC has the pleasure of being associated with a large number of industry bodies that include: Flexible and folding cartons, packaging machinery, labels, and flexible intermediate bulk containers, besides working closely with exhibition organisations. Currently the centre is working with three exhibition organisers and propose to be with yet another packaging related association. Whereas the role of SIES SOP/PTC would be administration, promotion, publications, representations and technical, the inputs from the associations would help to strengthen the infrastructure, expansion and contribution to various activities.

Tell us the future plans of the institute for this year.

The SIES SOP/ PTC is in a positive growth mode. Expansion of infrastructure, promotion of its facilities and activities, newer publications more association and affiliation with domestic and overseas associations/ industry bodies, development of more packaging professionals, continuation of recognition and awards for excellence for innovation, R&D projects, would be the areas where the immediate future action plans would be augmented.

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