Review of IPACK – IMA, Grafitalia, Converflex, Plast at the Fieramilano

Italian Packaging, Printing and Converting Equipment Showcased in Milan


The first of our industry’s larger international trade fairs held inthe current economic crisis took off very slowly, with exhibitor andvisitor numbers even lower than expected. The fair picked up on thethird day, however, and the last two days were busy enough to wipe outthe gloomiest anticipations. Although a major opportunity forinternational manufacturers to showcase their products in the Italianand Mediterranean markets, the four combined shows – IPACK-IMA,Grafitalia, Converflex, Plast – constituted, in the first place, thelargest concentration of Italian manufacturers in these sectors.

Review of IPACK IMA Grafitalia Converflex Plast at the Fieramilano 2
Taiwan Plast Ding Kuen at Grafitalia Ipack-Ima, Converflex

In 2008, the Italian packaging equipment manufacturing industry hadsome 300 companies with a total sales turnover of US$ 4.5 billion (INR22,650 crore), of which nearly US$ 4 billion (INR 20,000) consisted ofexports. The 80 largest companies made up for 65% of the sector’sproduction and 85% of its exports. Most of these companies areconcentrated in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, also known as the“Packaging Valley.” Until the recent financial and economic crisis,this industry had growth rates averaging 4 to 5% every year. With some18% of the US$ 25 billion (Rs 125,000 crore) world market for packagingequipment, Italian manufacturers hold the second place after Germany,and before the United States and Japan. In Asia, the Italianmanufacturers have a market share of 20%, as compared to 12% for theGerman manufacturers.
The Italian industry of printing, converting and paper and cardboardprocessing equipment comprises around 150 manufacturers employing aworkforce of 7,000, with sales in 2008 totalling US$ 2.3 billion, ofwhich nearly 80% is exported. Most of these companies are concentratedin the Lombardia and Piemont regions around Milan. Italianmanufacturers hold 15% of the world market in this segment, rankingfifth after Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the USA. Asia is thesecond-best market after Europe for the Italian manufacturers who sendmore than 16% of their total exports there.
The Italian industry of equipment and moulds for plastics and rubberrepresented a sales turnover of another US$ 5 billion (INR 25,000crore) in 2008.
IPACK-IMA, the reference trade fair of the packaging and processingequipment manufacturers, took up almost half the space reserved for thefour exhibitions. There was a strong emphasis on food packaging andfood processing, as the by far largest segments of the industry.Presentations and seminars dealt with product traceability, productsafety, waste reduction, food grain availability,micronutritients-enriched food and sustainable packaging technologies.
Grafitalia with a strong focus on inkjet and textile printing, andConverflex with its traditional emphasis on flexo and gravuretechnologies, were used by the Italian manufacturers to show latestdevelopments, often in conjunction with numerous Open House events attheir production sites. Next to a range of offset, inkjet, flexo andgravure presses, some of the latest automatic inspection systemsretained our particular interest.

Review of IPACK IMA Grafitalia Converflex Plast at the Fieramilano 1
This Combination event was big and entailed a lot of work. however, many of the Indians who went felt that it ultimately saved them a lot of time and money to take part in the four related events in the same place. Above Gaetan De Charry Of Rotatek With Amit Banga of SB Packaging at Rotatek stand in Milan

Indian exhibitors included Creed Engineers representing severalinternational technology developers in India, Convertech an Indo-Swissjoint venture in Hyderabad manufacturing doctorblades for gravure andflexo presses, and, albeit shining by absence from their booth,exhibition organisers PrintPack. Recent purchases by Indian companiesinclude an eight-colour Bobst Rotomec 888 press and Titan ER-610slitter rewinder installed at Kamakshi Lamipack from Chennai, aten-colour W&H Miraflex bought by Uflex, an eight-colour W&HPrimaflex CM at Glory Polyfilms, a Uteco press at IDMC, and a Hell K5cylinder engraver bought by Singla Engravures. Cerutti, withinstallations at Positive Packaging, TPP and Uflex already very activein India, hinted at another imminent prospect from India.
At Plast, the triennial international trade fair for plastics andrubber manufacturing, a strong accent was placed on bioplastics andbiodegradable polymers. A large exhibition area covered the suppliersof film manufacturing equipment. Companies showcasing complete filmextrusion installations included manufacturers from Italy, China,Taiwan and Germany. One of these, Italian company Colines, reported arecent order for two extrusion lines from Vietnam, for the productionof coextruded 5-layer CPP film with a capacity of 16,000 tons a year.
GEC, a leading manufacturer of cast, sheet, foam and multi-layer blownfilm based in the USA, announced the conclusion of a joint venture withthe Kolsite Group, India’s largest manufacturer of plastic filmextrusion lines. The newly formed company KGE (Kabra GloucesterEngineering Ltd) will be located in Mumbai and produce multi-layer andmono-layer blown film lines for the two companies’ internationalmarkets.
Six Indian chemical material suppliers exhibited at Plast, one fromPune and five from Mumbai: Sudarshan Chemical from Pune with drypigments; Supreme Petrochem with polyolefin-based alloys, blends,polystyrene, styrene copolymers, masterbatches and foaming agents;Ashapura Minechem with mineral fillers and extenders; Indofil Chemicalswith plasticisers; Reliance Industries with polypropylene homopolymers;and Sai Mallak Specialties with dry pigments.

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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