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.