Perhaps the Virtual drupa will serve as a springboard to greater things. It does, however, appear to be more of a 'Preview' of the physical show - and therefore its remaining exhibitors - and still scheduled for April 2021, despite the worsening Covid-19 situation in Europe. And now the penultimate offset exhibitor RMGT has pulled out.
|Virtual drupa, but virtually no major digital exhibitors for the April 2021 real show, due to Covid-19 concerns|
Hot on the heels of the latest major offset press supplier to pull out of drupa 2021 - RMGT (Ryobi-Mitsubishi), the new digital platform drupa preview will open today, 27th October, 2020 at 10:00 am (Central European time - 8pm AEST). A panel discussion with Project Director Print Technologies Sabine Geldermann, Dr. Markus Heering, Managing Director of the German Printing and Paper Technology Association (VDMA) and Dr. Christian Plenge, Executive Director Digital at Messe Düsseldorf, will present the new platform and address the current situation in the industry. Afterwards, companies and speakers will present important topics in live web sessions.
The digital format 'drupa preview' will provide a preview of the next live drupa event with its three areas 'Exhibition Space', 'Conference Area' and 'Networking Plaza.' Exhibitors will present their companies and products, speakers will give insights into the drupa agenda setting and visitors and exhibitors will already be able to interact and network. With this new digital offering, drupa will provide the industry with continuous exchange and knowledge transfer.
Will drupa 2021 happen in April? - Andy McCourt commentary
There is only six months to go for the next scheduled drupa, April 20-28th, 2021. With the withdrawal of RMGT (Ryobi-Mitsibishi) there is now only one major offset press manufacturer exhbiting - Koenig & Bauer - plus the indomitable Landa Nano with its B1 digital presses. The awkward question now facing organisers of the 'Digital platform drupa' which opens today is - if access to the virtual version (a 'preview' of the physical show) is available only to exhibitors, how can the virtual show present itself as a 'technology forum' without almost all of the major digital and offset press suppliers involved?
Not only this, but the latest German Covid-19 infection chart looks like this:
It is incredibly sad that drupa is suffering from the impacts of Covid, and also the withdrawals of many major exhibitors but, isn't it time the organisers realised the facts, and developed a new strategy?
To claim technology leadership and ground-breaking product releases when the major technology leaders are not present at either the virtual or actual trade show is pie-in-the-sky thinking with little basis in reality.
To encourage international people to travel to a Covid-19 ridden hotspot, despite the magnificent efforts of the German medical professionals, is downright irresponsible. In fairness, the same applies to the Fespa Global Print Expo Amsterdam, scheduled for March 9-12 2021. In full flight, with no pandemic, these European trade fairs are magnificent, superbly organised and highly beneficial to the industries that they serve. However, a sense of denial seems to have crept in; that 'the trade fair is bigger than the exhibitors attending.' It most emphatically is not and, to continue with a blinkered strategy as if there is no pandemic is like Hans Christian Anderson's 'Emperor with no Clothes' - no one dares to admit the Emporer is in fact naked, and praises the marvellous 'new clothes' - which don't exist.
Yes, the decisions are hard - as hard as can ever be - but people's safety must come first. Economic loss is being felt all over the world because of Covid-19, lockdowns and restrictions, it is a casualty of this horrible pandemic.
We wish the digital platform drupa well but if it is without Heidelberg, Komori, manroland, Bobst, RMGT, EFI, Fujifilm, Xerox, Ricoh, Screen, Konica Minolta, Canon, Kodak and others - how will the latest technologies' reach a global audience?
It's time for a re-think and facing up to the, albeit inconvenient, truths that are undeniably there.