Industry Influencer: Sabine Geldermann


drupa has been postponed to 2021.
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reasons behind the move.

Sabine Geldermann is director, drupa, and global head print technologies at Messe Düsseldorf. drupa is the largest printing equipment trade fair in the world. “drupa” is a portmanteau of the German words “druck und papier” – print and paper, respectively. The monster event is put on every four years by Messe Düsseldorf in Düsseldorf, Germany. Along with planning and staging this enormous trade fair, Geldermann travels with the drupa world tour, which allows her to share industry information and observe the print industry on a global basis.

This widely traveled industry influencer had a global mindset from early on. Geldermann’s major at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz was Translation Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies (French, Portuguese, English) with a focus on business economics. She paired her pan-cultural studies with an affinity for marketing and sales, and she worked as an interpreter for international exhibitors at trade fairs while attending university. This experience sparked her imagination and led her to a fascination with the trade fair industry.

After completing her studies, she earned increasingly responsible roles with leading British trade fair organizers Blenheim International, Miller Freeman and Reed Exhibitions. Geldermann joined Messe Düsseldorf in 2013, and she began focusing her nearly two decades of international trade fair expertise on drupa and the print industry. June 16 through 26, 2020, Geldermann’s latest drupa will feature 1,800 exhibitors from more than 50 nations.

PostPress posed questions to Geldermann in order to tap her years of experience with the global print industry and her insight into its current workings and future potential.

How do you see the industry embracing global trends such as the circular economy?

From a global perspective, megatrends such as circular economy, artificial intelligence, platform economy and connected consumer continuously and increasingly affect the industry. Artificial intelligence clearly is a major driver in the print and packaging world. Processes and presses have become smarter, taking self-learning to levels never experienced before.

Effects resulting from Industry 4.0 and ongoing digital transformation already have had and still are having an intense impact, and drive our industry significantly. In my view, our industry already is in the driver’s seat and taking responsibility for achieving sustainable processes and production.

Can you compare the print industry globally to the industry as it exists in the US?

From my perspective, the US printing industry is considered as one of the leaders on a global scale when looking at the market and especially at the print volume. Current figures underline that: With more than 670 million books published per year, the US is the most relevant market worldwide, even while stable and not growing in that segment. In facing worldwide trends in printing and packaging, the US definitely is an outstanding nation that provides orientation in many ways.

What are the biggest challenges facing the print industry in moving to Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 and IoT have impacted so many areas of our industry. Consequences of these developments are ongoing automation, plus the analysis and handling of big data as our machines and presses collect billions of pieces of data on a daily basis. No human being will be able to analyze and interpret those data, and therefore smart algorithms and artificial intelligence will be needed.

How is drupa addressing trends in packaging?

At drupa 2020’s touchpoint packaging forum, visitors will embrace the future of packaging, design and production. The forum covers various printing technologies, market segments and packaging types.

Brand owners – such as Nestlé and Danone – and market leaders from printing and packaging technologies – namely AGFA, BOBST, ESKO, HEIDELBERG, HP, Koenig & Bauer, KURZ and SIEGWERK and others – have formed the steering committee for the touchpoint packaging initiative. Together, they have been analyzing global trends and their effects on packaging applications in the future. drupa 2020 visitors will discover unique solutions highlighting smart, multisensory as well as intelligent packaging solutions and will have the opportunity to participate in guided tours.

As you look at the packaging sector, what trends stand out in print finishing?

The synergistic effects between packaging production and printing are very high, and these have a positive impact on growth potential. Factors that influence growth include increasing and shifting populations, single households, growing middle classes, emerging markets and e-commerce.

Design and finishing activities also are increasing, with the result that embellishment and decoration are adding parallel positive effects on this area’s growth. Every segment – such as food, non-food, pharma and cosmetics – is reporting positive synergy between printing and package production. Embossing technologies and metallic effects, especially, are very much in demand. That is true for folding cartons, labeling, flexible packaging and security printing, as well as for corrugated boxes.

In Asia, the need for anti-counterfeiting techniques is a major challenge, especially for luxury brands in the shoe, fashion, fragrance and electronics segments. Interestingly, everything related to security printing is hot, including invisible inks, bar codes and printed electronics. The development of trust codes will allow for the verification of authenticity in the future.

How do you hope to see drupa influence the industry?

We have to observe global trends and very clearly challenge ourselves to cope with them. E-commerce, brand demands, sustainable production and other motivators require that print service providers (PSPs) and suppliers take care of the circular economy. They also expect consumers to interact with the packaging and the product it contains.

We have to make sure that PSPs and suppliers are aware of one fact – 24-hour connectivity is here to stay! Global players need to work responsibly and effectively across all time zones, embrace environmental endeavors, stay connected and unveil new innovations that embrace economies after economies.

We will trim waste, speed delivery, embrace automated workflows and look to AI to carry us forward. Package printing and converting is under pressure to produce more inline and to reconstitute delivery windows to be quicker, better, cheaper and ever-responsive to emerging demands. Streamlining operations is both a priority and an overarching logistical challenge of the times.

Like drupa, printers and converters have committed to standing ready, willing and able to “embrace the future.”  drupa underscores its unique selling proposition as the most relevant and important platform for the global print industry – in short, a premium event that is about educating, engaging and entertaining in a fascinating and inspiring atmosphere.