“THE FOCUS AT DRUPA 2024 WILL BE ON THE AUTOMATION OF TRADITIONAL PROCESSES, DIGITAL PRINTING – ESPECIALLY INKJET TECHNOLOGY – AND CARDBOARD PACKAGING, IN LINE WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF INDUSTRY 4.0”
After an eight-year hiatus, the world’s leading trade fair on print technologies for inspiration, innovation, top-class knowledge transfer and intensive networking – drupa will finally hold this year from 28 May to 7 June at the prestigious Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre, Düsseldorf Germany. In this exclusive SPECIAL FEATURE INTERVIEW with Ms. Sabine Geldermann – Director drupa, Portfolio Print Technologies, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH WHERE To Print discovers the undisputed competence of Messe Düsseldorf to offer all participants the best platform for an invaluable experience throughout the eleven days of world’s no. 1 event for print and crossmedia solutions. Find out how in excerpt below:
WHAT WERE YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENTS IN 2023?
I was particularly touched by the many great and exciting encounters I had during the drupa World Tour, which started in the autumn. The anticipation of drupa was palpable in all the people I met. Whether in Brazil, India, China or Vietnam – the passion and enthusiasm of the people for the printing and packaging industry touched me deeply and gives a lot of momentum for drupa 2024.
QUITE UNFORTUNATE THAT NO AFRICAN NATION WAS PART OF DRUPA WORLD TOUR; WHY IS AFRICA EXCLUDED?
Africa is an exciting and growing market for the printing and packaging industry and of course, with Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, African destinations are also represented in our drupa World Tour. In addition, printpack alger will take place from 4 to 6 March this year. Together with plast alger, printpack alger is the industry meeting point for plastics, printing and packaging technologies in Algeria and the Maghreb region.
WHAT ARE YOUR TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE TOUR; THE LESSONS LEARNT AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS YOU WILL INCORPORATE IN THE FORTHCOMING DRUPA?
Our presentations and especially our drupa PrintPromotion Industry Summits were a complete success. Together with decision-makers involved in local industries, we discussed the issues that will shape the future with regard to sustainability, circular economy, digitalisation, AI, automation and much more. During panels and discussion rounds, our drupa exhibitors provided important insights into the European and global markets. One of the dominant issues at the drupa Print Promotion Industry Summits was that of sustainability. With marked enthusiasm, participants discussed the industry’s best practices for circular economy and efficient energy use. In addition, they considered the future and debated which technologies will be needed to make the industry fit for the future, resilient and above all sustainable. This also included a preview of the special forum “Touchpoint Sustainability” at drupa 2024 in Hall 14. Further points under intense discussion were global megatrends like increasing digitalisation, automation, AI and robotics, which will influence both individual processes and the entire added value chain in future.
AFTER NEARLY EIGHT YEARS, DRUPA IS SET TO TAKE PLACE THIS YEAR. WHAT SHOULD THE INDUSTRY EXPECT AT THE SHOW RIGHT FROM THE ONSET ON MAY 28 TO JUNE 7?
The show’s return after an eight-year hiatus adds to the global community’s anticipation and excitement for drupa 2024. The industry is looking forward to groundbreaking technologies and product launches, making drupa the most important event of the year for the global printing and packaging industry. Over the course of eleven days, it will shape the industry by showcasing emerging trends and innovations, including those that will be released in the coming years. Global megatrends such as sustainability, the circular economy, ongoing digitalisation, automation, AI, robotics and more will play a key role in our conferences and on our exhibitors’ stages. Digital printing technologies, digital packaging and finishing solutions, and new materials will be prominently featured.
WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN FROM THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS YEAR’S DRUPA SAFE FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS?
We create a good and safe atmosphere: constant and sufficient ventilation is ensured by our air-handling systems: the volume of fresh air constantly supplied to the halls exceeds the actual need many times over and the fresh air quality corresponds to the outdoor air. Furthermore, our HEPA filters help to ensure that we can offer all guests the greatest possible protection during our trade fairs. It is the most effective air cleaning technology currently available: HEPA filters remove 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and other particulates from the air and release the cleaned air into the room again. In combination with our high-performance ventilation system, our spacious premises and halls, we can minimize the risk of infection. Participants can feel safe when networking, initiating business deals and experiencing innovations in person.
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT THIS YEAR’S DRUPA?
This drupa will be a very special one for us, as eight long years have passed since the last edition. The world has turned in the meantime, the industry has developed enormously and we are really excited and eager to see what innovations the exhibitors will be presenting in Düsseldorf. And the industry needs a platform like drupa more than ever! Because the challenges and requirements of the industry have also increased enormously.
DRUPA HAS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF INNOVATION IN THE INDUSTRY, WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
The focus at drupa 2024 will be on the automation of traditional processes, digital printing – especially inkjet technology – and cardboard packaging, in line with the principles of Industry 4.0. The overarching theme will be ‘sustainable printing’. Inkjet applications have significant potential and promise a significant shift in packaging production, including corrugated, folding carton, labels and flexible packaging. Despite a decline in print volumes, there’s a noticeable increase in value-added printing and decorative enhancements. The digitisation of paperboard packaging processes not only improves efficiency but also meets the quality standards demanded by brand owners.
EUROPEAN, AMERICAN AND CHINESE COMPANIES HAVE ALWAYS DOMINATED AS EXHIBITORS AT DRUPA, WHICH AFRICAN COMPANIES SHOULD WE EXPECT?
Egypt will represent the African continent with 10 exhibitors. A detailed overview of all our exhibitors can be found in the exhibitor database on the drupa website (https://www.drupa.com/en/Exhibitors_Products/All_Exhibitors_Products) We would be delighted to have more African exhibitors and there is certainly a great deal of potential. We are always happy to discuss participation opportunities with interested companies!
UNDERSTANDABLY THERE ARE SOME AFRICAN ATTENDEES THAT MAY BE DENIED ENTRY VISAS TO ATTEND THIS YEAR’S DRUPA; WHAT WILL MESSE DÜSSELDORF DO DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME TO ENSURE GENUINE AFRICAN PRINT & RELATED ENTREPRENEURS AND PRACTITIONERS ATTENDING TO SCALE UP THEIR BUSINESSES, MAKE INVESTMENT DECISIONS AND THE LIKES, ARE ISSUED VISAS BY THE RESPECTIVE GERMAN CONSULAR IN THEIR RESPECTIVE AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO ATTEND THIS YEAR’S DRUPA?
Through our foreign representations in Africa, which cover almost the entire continent, we do our best to support visitors and exhibitors with their visa applications, e.g. with visa invitation letters. An overview of our foreign representations with the relevant contact persons can be found on our drupa website: https://www.drupa.com/en/Visit/Preparation/International_Representatives/Overview
Of course, we regret very much if a visa ultimately fails due to a lack of capacity or the co-operation of consulates and embassies.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE KEY ISSUES DRUPA EXHIBITORS WILL BE HIGHLIGHTING AT THEIR STANDS?
Quite clearly: digitalisation and sustainability. Digitalisation is an enabler for processes and applications in the print and packaging industries. AI, platform economy, and the openness to new product solutions in the field of industrial applications play a key role. Furthermore, sustainability will characterise drupa’s agenda. With such topics as Circular Economy, Energy Efficiency and Resource Conservation it has become a pivotal factor for the industry as a whole. In this dynamic context, the exhibitors pitch their new products and innovations to an international audience comprising the print and packaging industries, agencies, trade, media and research.
CLEARLY, VISITORS’ NUMBERS WILL BE UP AT THIS YEAR’S EDITION: HOW PREPARED IS MESSE DÜSSELDORF TO ENSURE AN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE TO ALL CONCERNED?
drupa currently occupies 18 halls, the entire Düsseldorf fairground. Currently, we are getting close to 1,400 exhibitors from 50 nations. drupa is and remains the no. 1 event for printing technologies. What makes drupa so unique is not only the high-calibre international exhibitors, but also the extensive supporting programme. Thus, drupa is not only a place for business and networking, but also for knowledge transfer. Five Special Forums will turn the fair into a hot spot for new technologies, applications and ideas. The drupa cube, drupa next age (dna) as well as touchpoint packaging, textile and sustainability all pick up on global mega trends, future technologies with growth potential and best practices covering a comprehensive spectrum of themes.
WHAT KIND OF SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT OR RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH HOTELS, ACCOMMODATIONS, TRANSPORTS AND OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS IN ORDER TO GIVE SPECIAL DISCOUNTS AND TREATMENT TO VISITORS?
We are working with the travel agency BCD Travel, who will help our guests with everything from travel to accommodation. In addition, many Düsseldorf hotels, restaurants, retailers and more will be taking part in the ‘drupa city’ campaign, offering special deals to our visitors and exhibitors. For those who would like to explore the city of Düsseldorf after the fair, we recommend the ‘DüsseldorfCard’ with discounts of up to 100% on around 70 offers such as guided city tours, museums and souvenirs. More information here: https://www.drupa.com/en/Visit/Preparation/Hotel_CityInfos
WHAT BUSINESS STRATEGY(IES) DO YOU THINK PRINT & ALLIED PRACTITIONERS SHOULD DO DIFFERENTLY TO TAKE THEIR BUSINESSES TO NEXT LEVEL?
The old saying “adapt or die” sums it up – as already emphasised in the 9th Global Trends Report: Printers have to seek new ways to grow and thrive. They must embrace change and see it as an opportunity for their businesses. We all have to innovate to succeed in the long term. I am confident that drupa 2024 will be the ideal opportunity to explore how best to achieve this objective.
FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR 2024 BUSINESS YEAR?
Overall, the industry is growing. We expect labels and packaging to take a growing market share at the expense of publishing, commercial print and graphics applications. Recent market research forecasts a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 5% for these areas, which is roughly in line with the development of the last 5 years. Asia and Africa are expected to be the markets with the highest growth, averaging over 6% per year by 2028. After meeting with so many print industry professionals on our drupa World Tour, we are very optimistic about the future. The findings from the 9th drupa Global Trends Report also confirm this positive outlook. COVID brought with it a drop in investment but according to the report, that decline is now in reverse and both Printers and Suppliers plan to increase investment in 2024. And if the excitement in the run-up to drupa is any indication, we are looking forward to a successful year from the industry.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
About SABINE GELDERMANN
Sabine has been responsible for drupa and its global portfolio as Director for over 10 years. Prior to that, she worked in the international exhibition industry, spending 17 years with exhibition organiser – Reed Exhibitions. She is a passionate and an enthusiastic communicator and initiator, helping industry professionals to network and actively share their ideas and knowledge.