I am going to take you through what I feel you should be looking at in May 2016. I have nine specific points.
If you like what you hear then please take appointments and do some research in advance because if you think you can cover the entire exhibition effectively in two to three or even four days: trust me: it's going to be difficult.
A survey on a popular Indian print magazine website provides a good indicator!
20% of the respondents said: Right now, planning to attend Pamex
12% said: They prefer attending a print show in China
27% said: Yes, I will visit, if I get a good deal
17% said: Shall attend, all the 11 days (wow)
24% said: Will attend three days, then Amsterdam.
So in effect approximately 50-60% of Indian printers are seriously considering attending Drupa 2016.
DRUPA POINT ONE - INKJET
Important question - Is inkjet viable?
Some printers have proved that it is. A great example is my good friend Prithviraj Desai of Mail Order Solutions (MOS).
MOS identified inkjet’s potential and went for it, making good money in the bargain.
So five things about inkjet
a) Inkjet technology continues to evolve and the inks (especially for wide-format printers) are more flexible with an increased colour gamut
b) Substrates or lack of a variety continues to be an issue. Look out at Drupa if you can print on specially treated papers or on coated stocks for matte, silk and gloss applications.
c) Decide what you want to do? Is it books alone?
Additional applications like magazine printing, catalogue printing and others are now doable on inkjet with all the benefits with regards of individualisation and customer targeted content without additional cost related to special inkjet treated papers.
d) The applications for inkjet are many. There is coding and marking, security numbering, photo-printing, wide-format, flatbed imprinting systems, narrow-web, high-speed wide web and sheetfed, to name a few.
Again, identify your focus area.
e) In addition to graphics and packaging, as the recent Fespa in Europe showed us, inkjet is making rapid progress in textile printing, ceramics and industrial/architectural decoration. Then there is the new arena of 3D printing, where inkjet is an important enabler. Outside of traditional printing and graphics, inkjet has revolutionised ceramic tile printing and it is growing very strongly in textiles and other industrial decoration applications – from pens and memory sticks to architectural glass and laminated decor.
DRUPA POINT TWO – CROSS MEDIA, CONVERGENCE AND MOBILE
Print is reinventing itself - therefore, it's important to visit Drupa to understand what to invest in especially now that we live in a multichannel communications world.
Look at cross-media, look at convergence, look at options other than Benny Landa.
For example, rigid plastics would be the fastest growing application segment, at an annual growth rate of about 31%. The interesting trivia is Europe was the highest consumer, whereas Asia Pacific was the largest producer of bioplastics in 2014.
In the coming years, Asia Pacific would become the fastest growing consumer.
The point is Bio-PET segment is expected to grow at approximately 25%.
InMobi, developers of mobile advertising platforms, estimate that consumers spend an astonishing 37% of their media time with mobile.
Global brands are exploiting this. In a recent print campaign, Ikea has printed special graphics rather than QR codes in their catalogues, so that “extended content is triggered by scans of special symbols”. These smartphone scans link to Ikea’s websites for additional home decor ideas and upselling.
DRUPA POINT THREE - PACKAGING
Definitely look at packaging.
The Indian packaging industry will catapult to number four market in the world. With a turnover that will notch up to USD 43 billion.
Again, according to a new study by PIRA, the compound annual growth rate for packaging worldwide is projected at 4% on an annual basis through 2018. And by 2018, the sale of packaging products will approach one trillion USD.
Within the eight distinct regions that PIRA studied, Asia has the highest rate of 6.3% per year.
Finally, of all the countries in Asia included in this study, India is projected to have the highest growth rate which is 10.7% per year through 2018. This is a phenomenal growth rate and will be difficult to sustain without focused education for future packaging professionals and users of packaging materials and machinery.
Today some of the packaging innovations include shelf-stable packaging, tamper-proof and tamper-evident packaging for pharmaceuticals, infrared and UV readable inks for product security, cross-border tracking software for food and beverage products.
So don’t think about the box you are converting.
THINK OUT OF THE BOX.
DRUPA POINT FOUR - DIGITAL
Now commercial printers are pretty convinced about digital and its capabilities. I believe at this Drupa we will see manufacturers pushing digital into the packaging space.
Though I belong to the packaging fraternity and much of a digital printing guy, but from what I have heard, one must learn how to deliver very small quantities cost efficiently.
Though it may look like Benny Landa somewhat deceived us in 2012, the man may still be the surprise package, having had time to hone his technology over the last four years.
B2 size inkjet sheetfed will blossom at Drupa 2016 with both Konica Minolta and Komori perhaps launching their respective kit which were shown as concepts during the last edition.
HP will overtake Heidelberg as the largest single exhibitor at this Drupa.
An important question Indian printers will need to answer is: When will we mature as an industry to get the high-tech machines of the likes that will be presented at Drupa 2016. Will we ever?
DRUPA POINT FIVE - FLEXO
The Labelexpo Europe at Brussels showed a lot of us the clout of a high-definition flexo plate bundled with some cutting edge software technologies.
Print firms like Pragati, Any Graphics and Zircon have already adopted the latest flexo technologies for packaging.
It’s not an improvement just at the front end that is raising quality and performance standards in flexo, it is also the speed on the press and consistency across substrates, which are key.
Did you know that flexo is the most widely used print process for the current global printed packaging market? It's around 40%.
It's not that Indian players are not leaping. Pyramid in Karnataka has already, and Astron in Gujarat is in the process of installing the latest flexo presses which can produce 20,000 boxes in an hour - from sheet to box. Totally automatic, with high-end graphics.
So my advise is: Watch out for flexo!
DRUPA POINT SIX - LABELS
I expect a lot of label print devices at Drupa.
In addition to the ten and twelve colour narrow web presses, do keep an eye on applications like hot foil embossing in wine and spirit labels.
All major firms are doing this. There are small specialised niche players who want their label partners to invest into patented in-line flatbed hot foil embossing systems.
The higher quality of hot foil combined with foil saving can make your company strengthen your position. For example mass hologram placements on tobacco prestige brands, have made the Chinese converters storm ahead.
DRUPA POINT SEVEN - GREEN
Do spend time to visit the stalls of UNFCCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and SGP (Sustainable Green printing partnership)
If possible, meet the people from Two Sides.
Two Sides is the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, has reported a 70% success rate in persuading global organisations to remove misleading green claims from their communications as part of its worldwide anti-greenwash campaign.
Hundreds of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, telecoms and insurance companies have been researched and checked by Two Sides and they have found a large majority of them in fact were using misleading statements and these guys succeeded in most of those offending companies removed their statements.
Understand the concepts of ISO 17098 – packaging material recycling; and
ISO 16759 - calculating the carbon footprint of print media.
All this is coming – let's understand and be prepared – specifically for those who are exporting.
DRUPA POINT EIGHT – FOOD and FOOD PACKAGING
The government of India has committed to 42 mega food parks (MFP) which could be operational by 2019. A rough estimate suggests this will yield a potential investment of about Rs 14,000 crore and should benefit lakhs of farmers and generate new jobs, too.
Today, wastage in the food supply chain is a serious issue.
The manufacturers are looking for innovative ways of packaging food and its variants.
Look for interesting initiatives!
For example ... A senior research scientist at DuPont India highlighted the utility of Tyvek in food processing. A 100% HDPE product, Tyvek is water and chemical resistant, reflects 99% sunlight, has extremely high strength but light weight. Another interesting feature is that it is breathable. It has an immense opportunity in the packaging of perishable products.
DRUPA POINT NINE - NANO TECHNOLOGY
There is a professor called Kuruvilla Joseph at ISRO. He says, “Nanoparticles are used to make sensors which can be used in medicines for pre-cancer diagnosis, for detecting cholesterol, dental and many more detections at preliminary stages.”
He also spoke of its application in active packaging as it can act as an oxygen scavenger and enhance shelf-life. It can also create sensors to detect ripening, oxygen levels, freshness, etc to show if the food has expired or faced harsh conditions.
Likewise, there is Shehbaz Singh, an Indian scientist at APIO, USA, who has worked on modified atmosphere packaging through the use of special films which alter the oxygen-carbon dioxide content and increase shelf life by delaying oxidation and degradation.
This means a lot of work is going on in increasing the sustainability of perishable food items, fruits, and vegetables.
Effectively this means, manufacture lemons in September and sell them in November when there is better demand – all because of better food packaging.
LOOK OUT FOR SOLUTIONS IN MATERIAL SCIENCE!
Drupa 2016 is all about ... new business models and new markets.
We need to refine our systems, minimise waste and maximise process automation and efficiency.
Visit the Alstadt.
Visit the museums and music halls in Dusseldorf.
Visit Amsterdam (but don't tell your wife and children).
And above all, do India proud.
The rest of the world is looking at our great land for inspiration.
We must be on our best behaviour at all times!