2024 Print Leaders Forum: Sabine Geldermann, Director, drupa

The digitisation of traditional processes has become increasingly important, leading to greater efficiency and automation while meeting growing expectations from the customer’s side. This includes the rising benefit of artificial intelligence, self-learning machinery, and maintenance. Furthermore, global megatrends such as platform economy and connectivity – driven by e-commerce, impacted our industry strongly and all these aspects relate to the further development of Industry 4.0.

The trade fairs in our global drupa portfolio held successfully in 2023 already gave us a preview of drupa. Print & Digital Convention in Düsseldorf, Pack Print International, and CorruTec Asia in Bangkok, Pack Print Plas Philippines in Manila and All in Print China in Shanghai have all shown the dynamics in our industry and how much the global community is looking forward to reconnecting face-to-face at trade fairs.

Our top priority is without a doubt to enable a unique, relevant, and highly successful drupa 2024. Our commitment and dedication are completely focused on this goal. Our agenda includes visionary-oriented topics, dealing with global megatrends such as digitalisation, sustainability, circular economy, artificial intelligence, and many more in order to master current and future challenges for our customers in the best possible way – all key factors for the entire industry.

To meet customer demands, the printing industry can adapt and innovate in various ways. Embracing digital technologies allows for more personalised and efficient printing solutions. Sustainability is increasingly important, so adopting eco-friendly practices such as using recycled materials and energy-efficient processes can attract environmentally conscious customers. Providing value-added services such as graphic design and marketing consultation adds another dimension to the printer’s offerings. Personalisation through data analytics and variable data printing addresses individual customer preferences. Prioritising customer experience with responsive service and streamlined ordering processes ensures satisfaction. Staying up to date on industry trends keeps printers competitive and positioned for success in meeting evolving customer needs.

Drupa currently occupies 18 halls which is the entire Düsseldorf fairgrounds and more than 1500 exhibitors from 50 nations have registered. The show’s return after an eight-year hiatus adds to the global community’s anticipation and excitement for drupa 2024. The industry is looking forward to groundbreaking technologies and product launches, making drupa the most important event of the year for the global printing and packaging industry. Global megatrends such as sustainability, circular economy, ongoing digitalisation, automation, AI, robotics and more will play a key role in our conferences and on our exhibitors’ stages. Digital printing technologies, digital packaging and finishing solutions, and new materials will also be prominently featured. Drupa 2024 will be an indispensable trade fair and customer experience that enriches competences of every single attendee.

The printing industry is evolving, offering ample opportunities for growth and innovation. Key prospects include tailored creations, where advanced digital printing technologies enable printers to provide customised print solutions tailored to individual client needs, from personalised packaging to bespoke marketing materials. With the rise of e-commerce, there’s a demand for functional, visually appealing, and eco-friendly packaging solutions. Printers can lead the way in developing sustainable packaging designs and interactive experiences. Digital printing has transformed the industry, enabling short print runs, on-demand services, and variable data printing with unmatched efficiency. This flexibility caters to niche markets and tight deadlines. With increased environmental awareness, there’s a growing preference for sustainable printing practices. Printers can differentiate themselves by championing eco-friendly materials and processes, such as recycling and energy efficiency.

After meeting with so many print and packaging industry professionals on our Drupa world tour, we are very optimistic about the future. The findings from the 9th Drupa Global Trends Report also confirm this positive outlook. Covid brought with it a drop in investment but according to the report, that decline is now in reverse and both printers and suppliers plan to increase investment in 2024. And if the excitement in the run-up to drupa is any indication, we are looking forward to a successful year from the industry. Strong industry growth forecasts must of course be balanced by recognising strong economic headwinds, with the risk of recession, or at least damaging inflation, now outweighing the impact of the pandemic and a wide variety of more specific regional socio-economic concerns.

My advice for emerging leaders is that staying informed and adaptable is paramount. Keeping up with industry trends and technological advancements ensures readiness for change. Prioritise understanding and meeting customer needs, not just in product quality but also in-service excellence. Embrace innovation, whether through new printing techniques, sustainability practices, or technological integrations, to stay competitive. Developing strong leadership skills is essential for guiding teams through challenges and fostering a positive work environment. Cultivate relationships with clients and industry partners, emphasising trust and collaboration.

Encourage continuous learning among employees to stay ahead of the curve. Strive for excellence in both quality and efficiency to maintain customer satisfaction. Stay resilient in the face of challenges, learning from setbacks, and maintaining focus on long-term goals. Through these practices, emerging leaders can navigate the complexities of the printing industry and position themselves for success. And most importantly, don’t miss drupa!

This first appeared in Australian Printer magazine. Read the original article here.

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