Returning to the international stage
Back again at last after a two-year absence: trade fairs, conferences, events for and with customers. You can sense a very special atmosphere as life gradually returns to exhibition centres around the world. In the print industry, too, people are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to talk to each other in person again and to leave the times of online meetings behind them – at least for the time being. And so it came to pass that the company’s participation at several trade fairs proved to be welcome events at Koenig & Bauer throughout the first half of 2022.
A brief flashback: in spring 2020, a then essentially unknown virus going by the name of SARS-CoV-2 spread across the entire world at record speed. More and more countries rushed to declare strict lockdowns – given the lack of suitable alternative measures to slow the rapid spread of the virus to any meaningful extent. Radical steps that were necessary to protect the population, but at the same time also entailed negative consequences. The entire trade fair and exhibition industry was one of the segments that was badly affected. The plug was pulled practically overnight. Organisers, stand construction companies, logistics providers, caterers, hotels, retailers – they all felt the direct impact of the cancellations, which henceforth hailed down without respite. The industry estimates that its losses ran into the billions. The most bitter pill for print enthusiasts: drupa, originally planned for summer 2020, was first postponed for a year and finally called off altogether as a face-to-face event. We are all going to have to remain patient until 2024, the next date in the trade fair’s traditional four-year cycle, but can then also look forward to meetings ‘in real life’ at the exhibition centre in Düsseldorf.
In the meantime, Koenig & Bauer has celebrated its return to the international stage with several trade fair attendances in 2022. The start signal was given at CCE International in Munich in March. During this three-day trade fair for the corrugated board and folding carton industry, Koenig & Bauer informed visitors about its latest developments for the packaging market: a complete packaging workflow with Rapida sheetfed offset presses, flat-bed and rotary die-cutters, and folder gluers; the VariJET 106 for digital folding carton printing; and the CorruCUT, CorruFLEX and CorruJET for direct post-printing on corrugated board. At the same time, group subsidiary Flexotecnica was showcasing CI flexo presses for the printing of flexible packaging at ICE Europe. As a small treat for the industry, the trademark of Koenig & Bauer – the ampersand symbol from its name – was handed out as a tasty baked souvenir in a specially designed box. The overall opinion: more Koenig & Bauer just isn’t possible.
At ExpoPrint in São Paulo, which was held in April and styles itself as the largest print industry fair in South America, Koenig & Bauer showcased a latest-generation Rapida 105 in live production. The medium-format press demonstrated its capabilities across the whole range from commercial to packaging printing – to the accompaniment of live rock ’n’ roll music. And visitors who couldn’t get enough of the Rapida on the day were able to take a special print sample home, where – after cutting out the individual elements – they could then assemble their own Rapida 105 in miniature format.
Returning from its long enforced break, Expográfica in Mexico was an equally resounding success for the print industry one month later. Supported by colleagues from the flexible packaging and corrugated processing segments, Koenig & Bauer was able to present not only its full sheetfed and post-press portfolio, but also a range of corrugated and flexo applications. The Omega Allpro 55 folder-gluer produced 80,000 folding cartons on the stand every day. And at Print4All, which was being held almost simultaneously in Milan, the folder-gluer’s slightly larger sister, the Omega Allpro 90, could be admired in action by visitors to the European trade fair.
Parallel to the trade fairs, a series of events for customers from individual countries and regions could at last be organised again at the Customer Experience Centre. This regional approach served not only to minimise the risk of infection, but also allowed the agendas to be tailored even more precisely to the visitors’ interests. Corresponding experts were in attendance for individual discussions, and everyone was able to take a closer look at technical details directly at the press after the print demonstrations. Among the visitors were print professionals from the countries in the Adriatic region, from the Baltic States, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey and the Czech Republic, who came to learn about the latest developments in packaging workflows, digital folding carton printing, industrial commercial production and Print 4.0.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Covid situation will continue to permit the organisation of industry get-togethers of all kinds, and that direct exchanges of ideas and experiences can regain the importance they enjoyed before the pandemic.