DÜSSELDORF, Germany, May 12, 2014 (Press Release) -
"For the manufacturers of printing and paper technology, Europe is by far the most important market," Dr. Markus Heering, Managing Director of the Printing and Paper Technology Association within VDMA, stressed this Monday, 12 May 2014, at a press conference held during interpack about the re-orientation of drupa.
Every second printing and paper converting machine manufactured in this country is delivered to West or East Europe. This figure does not yet include domestic sales which after all account for one fifth of total production. Market forecasts emphasise the role of the European markets. According to figures from Smithers PIRA, sales of paper and printing technology in East and West Europe in 2018 will be one third higher than in the US and exceed sales in China by the factor 2.25. Considering this background, Heering explained: "Even after 60 years, drupa is - and will remain - the leading international trade fair of our industry."
Technological TOP level
The high importance of the domestic markets for innovative engineering companies is also clearly shown by the productivity level of the local printing industry. According to recent market analyses of the European Federation for Print and Digital Communication (INTERGRAF), approximately 120,000 European printing companies with 725,000 employees generate sales worth 88 billion euros. Looking at the upcoming market in China, a big difference becomes obvious: While sales and the number of printing houses there are now at a comparable level, the number of employees of the printing industry in China is five times higher.
"This figure clearly shows that the printing houses in China have a long way to go in order to reach the technological level of Europe that has grown over many decades," said Heering. Innovative high-end products still rather arouse the interest of customers from highly developed industrial nations in Europe, North America and Japan. "Every four years, they find their way to Düsseldorf to gather information about the latest technological trends," said Heering, adding that with more than 300,000 visitors, drupa continues to be the unchallenged leading global trade fair for print and cross-media solutions.
Analogue technology remains the solid basis
Despite the growth in the emerging countries and the growth rates in digital printing, the analogue technologies and the European market remain the basis of the business operations of the printing and paper technology manufacturing industry. For 2018, Smithers PIRA expects sales of analogue technology to be four times higher than sales of digital printing technology. For machinery and systems manufacturers, the sales volume of analogue technology amounting to 10 billion euros by 2014 will remain twice as big as the volume of digital printing.
The packaging market is growing as well. The manufacturers of printing and paper technology are just expanding their involvement in this market and positioning themselves with their expert know-how. For Heering, this is a logical development. "For a long time, printing machines were pioneers in the opening of new markets. Now, this is often the role of packaging machines," he explained. Wherever packaging is used, there is normally an instant demand for printing technology. Because it enhances the product and thus enables the supplier to stand out from the competitors.
PRINT 2030 initiative develops roadmap for future markets
During recent months, the opening of new markets was at the centre of attention of the Print 2030 initiative. As part of it, the member companies of the Printing and Paper Technology Association within VDMA have begun working on concepts for positive mission statements for their industry and the identification of chances in future markets. "In our intense debates of strategies, the industry, in cooperation with futurologists as well as young students, has identified trends which will influence our industry in the coming years and decades," said Heering. According to Print 2030, they also include the trend to printed products with a sophisticated appeal since high-quality printed products can create emotions. Another trend which is considered to be crucial is the individualisation of printed products no matter whether they are made of paper and board or consist of fabric, glass or semi-conductors. Therefore, Print 2030 predicts that printing technology can become a key technology for the generation of added value.
What is clear is that the value chains and along with them the interfaces to the processes of the customers will change. "This joint look to the future has made our member companies aware of the fact that they must put their entire process chain from the idea to the product under the microscope and that they must design their machines and systems for even more flexibility and scalability by means of a modular design than they are doing at present already," said Heering. The crucial challenge is convergence. "Printing and paper technology will move towards a changing digital world and thus enable both worlds to merge," he added. For this path forward, the initiative has drawn up a roadmap which now needs to be implemented in fields of activities and projects at company level. Markus Heering is convinced: "We will see the results at drupa in Düsseldorf in 2016 and 2020."