The W&H Virtual Expo being broadcast live from the demonstration center in Lingerich, Germany over the Internet Photo W&H

On 24 and 25 June 2020, Windmöller & Hölscher held its first virtual expo to present technologies and products initially planned for the industry mega shows – Interpack and Drupa – that were to have taken place earlier this year. Since the original drupa was scheduled from 16 to 26 June 2020, W&H held its event in the drupa time on what would have been amongst the last couple of days of the event. This is why we call it a ‘zen drupa’ event — one of several virtual expos and webinars of technology initially meant to be shown in Dusseldorf this year. The postponed and shortened Drupa is to take place from 20 to 28 April 2021.

Over 2,000 visitors from 120 countries, including a considerable number from India and South Asia, tuned in for live the flexographic and gravure press demonstrations, technical sessions, and virtual meetings on 24 and 25 June 2020. We also registered and learned something about the new automated Novoflex II CI flexo press, the newer and more automated Heliostar II gravure press, and the Ruby platform and its modular components for digitalization and automation.

“The past months have been a challenge everywhere. Yet the flexible packaging industry is as busy as ever. That’s why it was so important for us to hold a Virtual EXPO and show our customers new technologies and applications that are available now and can help them run their production more efficiently,” said Peter Steinbeck, managing partner at W&H.

To accommodate different time zones of visitors, the Virtual EXPO was held live three times a day. Filmed in the 120,000 square foot W&H Technology Center in Lengerich, Germany, and the W&H Academy, two live machine demonstrations and eight technical sessions were broadcast live. In addition, the virtual expo offered the opportunity for one-on-one meetings, and both individual and group chats.

The live machine demonstrations included the Novoflex II flexographic press highlighting the new Ruby IoT system for analyzing production data to optimize processes and the newly redesigned Heliostar II gravure printing press. The live technical sessions were targeted to package printers, industrial sack producers, paper bag manufacturers, and film extruders. A session showcasing an all-PE film structure as an alternative to PET for stand-up pouch applications generated significant interest.

Other technical sessions covered flexible packaging topics, including sleeve handling solutions for flexographic presses, printing solutions for industrial sacks, heavy-duty films for FFS sacks, remote service, and paper sack production on machinery from W&H subsidiary, Garant Maschinen. Videos of the demonstrations and sessions are still available for viewing through the W&H sales team.

The Virtual Expo was put together in just six weeks. “We have been able to accomplish a lot digitally over the past few months from sales calls to live machine trials to service support to the Virtual EXPO. The experience and insights we’ve gained have been invaluable. At the same time, personal meetings cannot be replaced. They are very important for building relationships and trust. Both digital and personal communications have their place,” concluded Steinbeck.

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As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.


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