Drupa rocked by digital deserters

Konica Minolta joins the digital parade

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Konica Minolta stand at drupa 2016 Photo konicaminolta.eu
Konica Minolta stand at drupa 2016 Photo konicaminolta.eu

Drupa retains the support of a string spread of the industry, but the loss of three more digital press providers will continue speculation about next year’s show, writes Gareth Ward of Print Business www.printbusiness.co.uk.

With less than 190 days until Drupa is due to open its doors in Düsseldorf, the exhibition suffered the loss of three Japanese exhibitors last week.

Ricoh, followed by Canon and then Konica Minolta, withdrew from the event, all explaining that the need to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, was prime. These follow hard on the heels of Fujifilm, HP and the earlier declared absence of Kodak and Xerox, meaning that the digital printing cupboard is looking increasingly bare.

Currently Xeikon, Miyakoshi, Kyocera, Riso, BlueCrest (an OEM of HP’s PageWide technology), and Delphax (supported by Memjet) are the only digital press providers listed on Drupa’s website along with Manroland WebSystems, Koenig & Bauer, Manugraph, and RMGT, as providers of litho printing presses.

In statements last week, Ricoh declared it “is renewing its focus on developing increasingly effective virtual client communication via different channels, with Konica Minolta Business Systems international marketing division general manager Olaf Lorenz saying “exhibiting at Drupa or any other trade fair at the moment makes no sense to us during the current world uncertainty. Things are too unpredictable.”

And this is the nub for many, even those that are still listed as participating. Agfa would be the only major litho plates supplier but says that it needs to be convinced that Drupa can attract enough visitors and that the show can be organized in a safe way. It is in conversations with the organizers on these points.

The visitors’ issue is out of the hands of the organizer. While Germany is one of the countries that the UK based people can currently visit without quarantine, this is not the case for visitors from the US. With the number of infections and deaths still increasing sharply in the US and with little indication that authorities have the spread of Covid under control, visitor restrictions are unlikely to change in the short term.

This will also increase costs for US exhibitors who will need to isolate staff once they reach Germany.

Many of the companies listed as at the show have still to confirm their attendance. Currently, UK based companies have remained, along with many European and Chinese exhibitors. This may change, Japanese companies in particular are, by nature, conservative and will prioritize the well being of employees. Epson, Mimaki and RMGT are among those still to confirm either way.

If digital printing and litho printing are thin on the ground as it currently stands, finishing technology has a stronger representation. Muller Martini, Polar, Kama and Kolbus head the conventional finishing suppliers; Hunkeler, Horizon, Tecnau and Duplo International those with a digital focus. MB and GUK as providers of folding systems with Kern, Buhrs, BlueCrest and Böwe from the mailing world.

Digital prepress has a fair showing, due perhaps to running simpler stands with less need of a lengthy setup. Esko Artwork, Enfocus, GMG, Global Graphics and Chili Publish, the first company to pull out of Drupa this year, are attending. For now.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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