DRUPA” derives its name from the German words “druck und papier” meaning print and paper respectively.  It was first inaugurated in 1951 spread over an area of 18450 square meters, 527 exhibitors from 10 countries and 195450 visitors. The main highlight then was the platen press. By 1962 the show had grown to 48000 square meters and letterpress printing was changing to offset printing. 1972 saw Drupa being held at the present site with a brand new exhibition centre and the size grew to almost 100,000 square meters. The next editions of Drupa upto the end of the new millennium more or so saw the growth and development in offset printing technologies. From smaller machines to bigger ones, UV inks, better ink control technologies, Web offset, Ctp, Digitalization of equipments, etc, were the highlights. It was largely recognized as an offset printers show. Printers involved in processes like Flexo, gravure screen, etc. would not be a part of this show. The last decade of the last millennium saw some fast growth and activity in digital printing. 50years after the exhibition was launched a transformation in printing technology was evident at Drupa 2000. This was the peak of participation. The show had grown to 158,875 square meters and 428,248 visitors from 171 countries, the highest in Drupa’s history, came to the show. 1943 exhibitors from 50 countries showcased their products and equipments catering to diverse printing technologies. By 2004 internet was providing immense possibilities to the printing industry by way of networking possibilities like data transfer which made life so much simpler for the printing fraternity. Digital printing was spreading its reach. 2008 Drupa did actually confirm that digital printing is going to be the future.  Leaders in digital like Océ, Canon, Agfa, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Kodak and HP were present in huge floor spaces confirming their resolve to bring about that change from conventional to digital printing. In 2012, Benny Landa took inkjet to the next level by promising nanographic-printing to be better than even offset. Landa’s showmanship and vision pulled hoards of visitors to the Landa stand, the world was talking about it. The HP stand of 4950 sq.mtrs and large stands of Kodak and other companies exhibited a new trend of combining multiple print and converting technologies leading to hybrid machines. For this reason Drupa 2012 was the initiation of making Drupa not just an offset printer’s show. However still people said digital to spread cost effectively and emphatically will take time. 


Drupa 2016 figures: 260,000 visitors from 188 countries and about 1,900 journalists from 74 nations
travelled to Düsseldorf.  1,837 exhibitors from 54 countries exhibited to display their equipments and products. At 76% participation of international visitors at Drupa 2016, it increased by 16% compared to the 2012. The largest contingent came from Asia with 17% (2012: 13.6%) participation, particularly from India (5%) and China (3%). The majority of the European visitors came from Italy, France, the Netherlands and the UK. So infact the largest international group of visitors approximately 14000 came from India. The show has definitely transformed. HP showcased its offerings from a much bigger stand of 6200 square meters up from 4950 sq.mtrs. at the last Drupa. Landa’s Nano metallography displayed on an Omet X6 flexo press, attracted a whole lot of interest. The show had virtually every technology on display from Offset, digital, nanography, gravure, flexo, screen, 3D and so on. It is no more the offset show that it was. I would now personally refer to it as the "complete Printing and converting technology show". Since India is a market in focus of the global marketers and they formed the biggest group of visitors, I sent out a questionnaire to many exhibitors and visitors most of them in some way connected to the label industry to get their take on Drupa or the exhibitors view of the visitors.
David Jones-Alphasonics
Most of the exhibitors questioned by me did experience that Indians were there in large numbers however when I asked what they felt was the percentage of Indian Label printers amongst 14000 Indian visitors, the answers were quite strange. A few who understood my question did not wish to guess. Wild guesses came from many of those who chose to answer at 10-30%. Maybe they did not understand my question, 10% of 14000 is 1400! We don’t have so many label printers in India. Some exhibitors may have expressed this as a percentage of visitors at their stand but coming from label printers it was quite surprising. The only two people who gave realistic figures were Amar Chhajed of Webtech (Huhtamaki) as less than 1% and Sanjeev Sondhi of Zircon guessed close to 100 label printers, I too estimate 100 to be a fairly realistic figure. When exhibitors were asked if the visitors were serious buyers, David Jones of Alphasonics said “You can never tell. They all seem interested”. Dhyanesh Amonkar of GEW feels they were serious but were there mostly to assimilate the new technology available so that they can indulge when needed. Similar views were expressed by Itzick Barazani Director AVT, Spring Xu of Weigang, Peter Frei of Pantec and Pankaj Poddar CEO Cosmo films. Massimo of Omet says, “We saw an increasing level of quality of Indian visitors. People coming to our stand knew what to ask. They were serious” Appadurai of HP expressed satisfaction at the improving level of Indian visitors at trade shows, he said “They now do their homework well and know what to enquire”. Obviously it is clear that trade shows are no more seen as reasons for tourism. They are serious business for our business men.
Pankaj Poddar CEO Cosmo Films
All exhibitor respondents confirmed that it was mostly business owners alone or accompanied by their top level executives that visited them. This was also confirmed by the printers who were interviewed. Some top management executives from large business groups also came. This is so because most printing companies in India still continue to be family owned and final decision making remains with the owners. This is a positive sign for the exhibitors as they are in direct contact with the decision makers. Of course the negotiation does get tough when you actually deal with owners. When asked if they made deals at the show to sell into India, Alphasonics confirmed they sold two equipments, AVT sold two, Omet one and HP sold two label presses. (The question to HP was asked for label presses only). Most others have enquiries that appear to be very serious and may mature into orders. Indian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world; I asked if exhibitors felt the impact. David Jones gave and interesting answer, while he agrees that there are more and more people coming forward to enquire yet price bargaining is very high however he feels the gulp factor when you quote price especially to the larger printers is better. They don’t faint when you quote a European price.  Massimo at Omet finds the general mood as positive. Pankaj Poddar finds the Indian printers very motivated in the present day scenario. Unanimous in their response all agree that Indian print industry is moving up and upgrading with increased investments, cautiously but steadily. It is surprising that while most equipment suppliers complain prices are very difficult in India yet when asked do Indians have capability to invest in high end equipment, the answer is in the affirmative. All say there appears to be no issues on their capability to invest. 
With Adrian Tippenhauer Mg. Dir. Rako Etiketten
After the massive and amazing display of digital printing technologies at Drupa, one can be sure that it is the technology of future and is already under implementation rapidly. What technical implementation happens in Europe and USA eventually also reaches India. Quoting Germany’s leading label printer Adrian Tippenhauer Managing Director of Rako Etiketten, “We now invest only in digital presses”. Till date they have 36 digital presses out of the 100s of label presses, most of these digital presses are HP Indigos. If we see the participation of the top participants in Drupa in the last three showings we note that in 2008 out of the top five exhibitors we had three conventional offset equipment suppliers with Heidelberg as the biggest exhibitor. This dropped to two in 2012 and just one in 2016. This Drupa we had the biggest exhibitor as HP followed by Heidelberg, Landa, Canon and Kodak. I am sure this indicates the way forward. Serge Vincart of Dilii says “The market dynamics is eventually forcing the label printers towards digital” Itzick Barzani feels it may take time but that is the way. Pankaj Poddar feels for short runs, it is here to stay! HP’s Appadurai says, “Drupa accelerated the adoption and belief in Digital”! As for the label printers, Narendra Paruchuri of Pragati, Hyderabad reasserted his stand that digital and conventional will coexist. Aditya Patwardhan of Manohar packaging feels digital will not grow very quickly in India until shackles on proprietary substrates and consumables are removed.  Jordi Querra at Rotatek states, “In volume, all digital together means less than 1% of total printed production worldwide. Digital is for short runs and a single printed copy is very expensive. We think India customers are in the right direction. Digital is a difficult business today”. However Amar Chhajed expressed that the technology is now getting to be more relevant with improved pricing and faster speeds. Abhay Datta also believes digital is catching up. Sanjeev Sondhi of Zircon stated we have to adopt it pretty soon. Landa’s metallography seems to have impressed both Narendra Paruchuri and Sanjeev.
Much of the growth happening in the label industry in India is emanating from the offset printers.  They are already supplying packaging to FMCG end users who also need labels, so an area that has reasonable margins and a high growth rate is an attractive synergic segment to add to their growing package printing business. Commercial printing is on a downslide and package printing as also label printing is an area that the printers understand and get attracted to. Existing package printing companies have huge turnovers and for them, investment in label is not a very difficult proposition. However the reverse, i.e. label printers getting into packaging is happening but I would say is not very evident. Labels are just 2-3% of the packaging industry and the label is just a small fractional part of the total package cost. Even if label printers are successful yet their turnovers are restricted and cannot match the large package printing companies. The larger label printers, to grow bigger in size are contemplating or already making investments to get into package printing, flexible packaging and shrink sleeves  but they are small in number. During this exhibition one could see a lot of offset printers show interest in inline production of folding cartons and flexible packaging. It surely appears that it may become a trend. Most exhibitors confirmed India is their focus area and many confirmed they are already making or will make investments into India, According to Omet, “It has been a consideration for quite a while and will happen”. Peter Eriksen of Nilpeter though not exhibiting, says, “We have decided to make a very significant investment. We believe in the growth of the Indian label and flexible packaging market. Furthermore, we have chosen India to play a key role in Nilpeter global manufacturing setup”.


Narendra Paruchuri-Pragati Offset Hyderabad


 There is a 17% drop in the number of visitors at Drupa. I asked if it was (a) reduction in number of days (b) Loss of interest. (c) Consolidation with more focused visitors this time. I got mixed responses but it appears the consensus is that we had more focused visitors this time. There is so much of information available on internet and people need to travel only when it is necessary to proceed towards expansion. That is the time they wish to update themselves and decide the way forward. Those amongst printers that I interviewed and who actually made purchase decisions were Amar Chhajed-Webtech, Narendra Paruchuri-Pragati, Ramesh Kejriwal-Parksons, Abhay Datta-Datta Press and Aditya Patwardhan-Manohar Packaging. Most Indian printers felt the positive impact of exhibitor’s attitude coming towards them, given the fact that their country is now the fastest growing economy. Narendra Paruchuri feels that in today’s time any prospective buyer is welcomed, he says, “I was happy with the reception at last Drupa and happy this time as well”.
With Ramesh Kejriwal, Mg.Dir. Parksons Packaging
 All the printers who responded were repeat visitors to Drupa, in fact for Narendra Paruchuri it was the ninth Drupa. A whopping 36 years and he visited each time this show was held! When asked will you come again and the response, “Yes, as long as I can walk”.  All visitors felt they had learnt a lot of new things and would surely come back to visit the next Drupa. The four years cycle gets a thumbs up from most respondents but Amar Chhajed says, “Decisions cannot wait for four years in today’s rapid paced life, the motive of Drupa remains showcasing new developments. Purchase decisions can keep on happening”.  Mukesh Goel of Gopsons expressed that it was evident the visitors were very focused with intent to purchase this time and you could feel that when you saw people busy at stands. 
I also asked, what was the most interesting part of your visit to Drupa? It all varied from Landa’s Nanography to Nano metallography to 3D to technical advancements, but the most interesting reply I got was from Ramesh Kejriwal Managing Director of Parksons Packaging, he says “Beer at Alstadt!!!”


Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India July 2016 exclusively for Narrow Web Tech Germany. 


The article maybe published with the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany giving credit to them and to the author

For advertising on this blog, please email to harveersahni@gmail.com Clicking on the advertisers logo takes you to advertiser's website. If advertisers name appears in the blog, link is provided from the name to their website