The Rail Neer bottle, the hugely popular packaged water that Indian Railways provides to travellers, is getting a facelift that will be sleeker in design, longer in shape, a bit thinner and more curvaceous at the top for a better grip.
Driven by the need to make its Rail Neer more competitive by reducing the manufacturing cost of the bottle in which it is packaged, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to give it a new look and provide a tough competition to the private players while maintaining the purity standards.
“In fact, our plant at Ambernath in Maharashtra has already started manufacturing the new attractive design of Rail Neer bottles and are available in trains and at railway stations,” said Dr. A K Manocha, Chairman and Managing Director, IRCTC.
Three of the other Rail Neer plants at Nangloi (Delhi), Danapur (Bihar) and Palur (Chennai) would be adopting the cost-effective, passenger-friendly new design soon, he informed.
The new bottle has been designed by the French company Sidel, a leading global provider of solutions for liquid packaging. The design of the existing bottle was made by National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.
“Rail Neer is the purest packaged water that is manufactured in fully automated conditions, and the chances of contamination don’t exist. Not a single sample of Rail Neer has ever failed in outside lab testing,” he pointed out.
The oldest Rail Neer plant at Nangloi, for instance, has a testing lab (ISO 9001-2008 rating) that conducts tests at various stages to ensure the quality of water. Apart from its own labs, it has outsourced the job to Shriram Institute for outside testing.
Citing reasons for the need to economise the operational cost of packaged water, Dr. Manocha said Rail Neer plants are lesser in number as compared with those of private players. “IRCTC has to transport its water bottles to a very long distance whereas private companies have set up their manufacturing units at the places where there is a big demand. This helps them in reducing the transportation cost which, in turn, reflects in their production cost,” he explained.
Listing the steps taken by IRCTC to reduce the overall manufacturing cost of its packaged water, he said the weight of a preform Rail Neer bottle made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate which is a form of polyester) has been reduced from 21.5 gram to 19.5 gram. The newly designed bottle costs less because of the cheaper raw material.
The Ambernath plant would soon start production of preforms that would help reduce their cost drastically, the CMD informed.
Siyaram, Group General Manager (GGM), Rail Neer, said IRCTC has stopped the earlier practice of packing a dozen bottles in one carton. “Now ‘shrink’ packing is being used in its place. It has significantly reduced the use of paper too,” he added.
Rail Neer plants follow an eight-stage filtration technology. “Our packaged water follows two Activated Carbon Filter process. Of this, the Norit Carbon System, imported from Europe, ensures that there is no pesticidal residue in water. Also, the ‘Marble Chip’ filtration process, which is used only by Rail Neer plants, keeps in control the acidic value of water,” Siyaram said.
In 2014-15, Rail Neer plants produced 11.8 crore bottles with a turnover of Rs 96 crore as against 10.45 crore bottles and Rs 88.17 crore, respectively in the previous year. For the fiscal 2015-16, the target is to produce 16 crore bottles with a turnover of Rs 120 crore.
The daily need of packaged water over Indian Railways network is 2.5 million bottles a day. The existing capacity of four Rail Neer plants is 6.14 lakh bottles a day.