drupa 2021 virtual preview on 27 October 2020

Digital panel to reveal platform and three areas

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Sabine Geldermann
Sabine Geldermann speaking at a predrupa event in New Delhi Photo IPP

The new digital platform called the drupa preview will open on 27 October 2020 at 10:00 am (Central European time). A panel discussion with Sabine Geldermann, project director Print Technologies, Dr Markus Heering, managing director of the German VDMA, and Dr Christian Plenge, executive director Digital at Messe Düsseldorf, will present the new platform and address the current situation in the industry. Afterward, companies and speakers will present essential topics in live web sessions.

The digital format ‘drupa preview’ will provide a preview of the next live drupa event with its three virtual areas – Exhibition Space, Conference Area, and Networking Plaza. Exhibitors will present their companies and products, speakers will give insights into the drupa agenda setting, and visitors and exhibitors will interact and network. With this new digital offering, drupa will provide the industry with continuous exchange and knowledge transfer.

Dr Markus Heering, managing director of VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association Photo IPP drupa 2021
Dr Markus Heering, managing director of VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association Photo IPP

I no longer rush to update the drexit from drupa since the news trickles in, and even the local subsidiaries of the major manufacturers are slow to update us. Maybe some of them will be slightly less shameless about putting advertising in the B2B trade rags on hold for ‘pandemic related reasons.’ 

Exhibitors can most easily reallocate part of what they would have spent on drupa on marketing with a bit of effort. Many of the too many webinars and virtual expos are falling flat without the help targeted, knowledgeable, and engaged B2B platforms can provide.

RMGT, Ricoh and Canon join drupa drexit

On 20 October RMGT of Japan announced its drexit of drupa 2021. In the week before Konica Minolta announced its exit and HP has announced its withdrawal as well. We believe there are other withdrawals also but it is becoming challenging to maintain an authentic list of exits or as we call them drexits.

In the first week of October 2020, Canon and Ricoh pulled out of drupa 2021. To again recite the drexit list, Bobst and Xerox were the first to quit the event. Next came Heidelberg and Manroland Sheetfed, followed by Komori. Then it was Screen in the first week of September, Fujifilm on 14 September, Kodak in the third week of September, and HP, the Post Press Alliance at the end of September, and EFI on the last day of September. Now in the first week of October, it’s Canon and Ricoh.

Both Ricoh and Canon say they will now switch to hosting their events and the virtual showbiz tools. And while Canon has a direct and robust presence in India with a demo center in Gurgaon, the story with Ricoh India, which was an incorporated company quoted on the Bombay Stock Exchange, is a turbid tale over the past few years. Dogged by poor governance, insolvency proceedings in the National Company Law Tribunal, a seemingly messed up resolution, it is now in the Supreme Court.

The remainers

There are the hardcore drupa remainers too. Among the top twenty remaining exhibitors are Koenig & Bauer, Kurz, Landa, and Windmöller & Hölscher. Alongside these are the significant exhibitors who have not yet melted away, such as Xeikon, Konica Minolta, and RMGT. (As of this update of 21 October at least Konica Minolta and RMGT have exited.) One expects more exhibitors to withdraw and further fragmentation of the ecosphere of knowledge and technology sharing. As Gareth Ward of Print Business in the UK has written, “A host of other smaller companies would be giving serious consideration to withdrawing from the event if it did not mean losing a deposit of several thousands of Euros, which many cannot afford to do.”

The drexit will put even more pressure on salespersons than usual, who will have to become proficient in communicating knowledge and technology with the aid of a variety of videos and presentations. For some of the bright sales engineers, it is an opportunity to master digital tools and the tech they have to sell. In the past, many of them were selling on the back of major exhibitions and big brands’ company experts.

The Covid-19 virus has wiped out many events, conferences, awards, and other face-to-face opportunities for the industry to grow. Exhibitions are an opportunity for an industry faced with many challenges to grow as a community. With little prospect of the pandemic subsiding as it sees a substantial second wave in Europe and the United States, travel in April has become unlikely for global visitors. Visitors from China, the United States, and India are currently banned from travel to Germany.

drupa virtual preview finally

In September, the organizers declared that drupa 2021 would be a hybrid physical and digital event, and the most recent withdrawals strengthen the digital and virtual outlook. They said that starting in October 2020, drupa will be making an online portal available to exhibitors and visitors. However, as of 8 October 2020, there is no real sign of the hybrid event, and in fact, the drupa home page is inviting exhibitor bookings. It is a complicated situation, and only with the prospect of the drexit one sees more clearly the advantages of a major international comprehensive event like drupa. Now as the first paragraphs of this posting reveal the digital platform will be revealed on 27 October 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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