It was good to be at the Hunkeler innovationdays 2023 again, with next level automation as its motto. This certainly held true. 50 print application lines were shown live with many in-line or highly integration solutions.
Hunkeler launched several interesting new pieces of equipment like a B2 cut-sheet finisher moving into a new level of productivity. In the traditional web finishing space a high volume, yet variable book block production line (the Starbook) with added Book Sorting Module was presented. Adding to flexibility and automation was a new autosplicer for fast and easy roll change – either in front of a press or for near-line web finishing lines.
Finally, the Hunkeler innovationdays are back, not only bringing more inkjet devices, but also a lot of technology around the presses – of course with finishing being very prominent. If you have not been to the Hunkeler innovationdays: it is the event to get the best possible overview on continuous feed production presses. Not only will all important vendors for digital commercial, publishing and document printing presses be there, the event also allows seeing the latest presses printing side-by-side.
From the 14th of June to the 18th Inkjet Insight is hosting the 2021 virtual Inkjet Innovation Week to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to market across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Anchoring the event are a series of 60 minute, expert-led webinars during the week of June 14th. An additional 30 minutes has been reserved for Q&A and questions may also be sent to experts in advance.
The 5 days do focus on the following segments:
Web-fed document production
Sheet-fed document production
Packaging & labels
Industrial and bespoke systems
Inkjet workflow and efficiency (software and hardware)
Together with Amy Machado from IDC and Elizabeth Gooding I will present on the second day on sheet-fed inkjet. We will cover market data, the latest launches, technology progress, where sheet-fed inkjet makes sense and what might come next.
Heidelberg today announced that the company is to cancel its participation in drupa 2021. After Bobst and Xerox the third printing industry heavyweight dropped out now. Industry experts will feel a déjà vu with the last days of IPEX in 2014, with almost all major exhibitors dropping out before the show – one after another. This sealed the fate of IPEX, the second largest print trade show at its time.
Heidelberg justifies the decision of not exhibiting at drupa with the shortening innovation cycles and emerging digital business models. Heidelberg plans to customize its activities in regional markets and segments as well. Plans are to replace trade shows with events at their Print Media Centers (5 globally) and virtual events. Heidelberg pulled out of trade shows in developed countries many years ago, citing they know all customers already and rather invite them to the open house event. As the only exception drupa remained, as “the trade show you need to exhibit to be taken seriously in the graphic arts industry” and as the show that sets the mark for trends and technology developments.
Trade fairs have been under pressure in recent years. Cancelling most events in 2020 is making vendors considering their stance towards trade shows once more. So far drupa has been beyond discussion as the one trade show in which a vendor needs to exhibit to be taken seriously in the printing industry. Product and technology development plans have been timed for this show to maximise impact. Now drupa being moved to 2021 wreaks havoc to many plans and a good share of vendors decided to hold virtual launch events instead.
Two major vendors bailed out of drupa 2021 recently and opted for virtual events. Xerox cited insecurity around large events during a pandemic. Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, citing several reasons: A change in strategy to forego trade shows (except selected few in Far East) in favour of virtual events and experience centers, environmental reasons and that 2021 is already “full” for Bobst.
Virtual press conferences
As the first of the major vendors which cancelled their drupa participation for 2021 Bobst held an international press conference on the 9th of June. Several articles have been written on the launches presented, but I would like to focus on the underlaying question: how well does a virtual event as a substitute for a trade show participation.
First kudos to the event organisers. According to Bobst more than 100 journalists and analysts joined. The virtual press conference was well organized. The stream contained a mix of CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst talking, mixed with slides and him drawing on a flip chart (you still remember what this is?) to explain some workflow details. There was ample time for questions, also expertly moderated by Francois Martin.
Still – getting technology developments explained via a couple of slides always gives me the feel that I want to walk over and kick the tires of the new product at the booth or demo site. Given the wide range of listeners to a call it is impossible to give enough detail for the exports while not to overextend the ones that dabble in this field of expertise (or in the print industry as a whole). Crucially, as an analyst I want to learn about the important points that are not on polished vendor presentation slides, like pricing, availability, tech details, pros and cons and more. I find being able to stand in front of a piece of technology and talking to product managers, sales guys and technicians incredibly helpful. This is usually the opportunity to examine print samples as well. And you have a bit of time to let the first information settle and recall the points you want clarified.