Big success for first Windmoller & Holscher virtual expo

Another success for the zen drupa

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.

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.

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– Naresh Khanna

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