The four-degree temperature and a fluffy white precipitation the locals would hardly grace with the word ‘snow’ may or may not have been a factor, but IfraExpo went out quietly today, even though the closing tally of 6700 visitors officially “exceeded expectations”, writes Peter Coleman.
It was a disappointment, especially after the buzz of the second and third days (the former boosted by the attendance of some disgruntled workers from a French press assembly site!). Although the general agreement was that participation had been ‘quality rather than quantity’, exhibitors in the digital systems hall were heard to ask why the ‘heavy metal’ hall next door was so much busier when they had all the hot new technology.
The answer wasn’t just that it was warmer there: Manufacturers with automation or productivity enhancements were kept busy with enquiries, and the activity wasn’t confined to the world’s growth regions. Newspapers in Europe and the UK are again occupying the attention of peripherals vendors, with further installations set to follow.
Certainly there’s an acute shortage of major new projects, but even among US visitors there seems to be a willingness to accept that while the business may be changing fundamentally, people aren’t going to stop buying newspapers any time soon. And in the meantime, the most colourful, efficient and environmentally-responsible production is needed … perhaps at someone else’s plant.
A hot topic is that of plate transportation, closing the gap between CTP and press, with at least one totally-automatic project underway, while single-width press makers I spoke to were also optimistic about prospects.
Interestingly, what have traditionally been low labour cost countries (notably India) are investing in labour-saving technology which has the added value of reducing the potential for human error. India has a great deal to gain, as improved literacy increases newspaper readership.
The green theme has been taken up by members of the PrintCity alliance – including manroland, UPM, Trelleborg, Sun Chemical and Océ – whose upcoming project is to research carbon footprint and energy efficiency, starting with how to measure it.
In the digital area, the push is to embrace content from every imaginable source (don’t worry about the copyright!) and seize every opportunity presented by to publish it.
These are themes which will be explored further at WAN-Ifra’s digital media event in Singapore in mid-November, and at the World Newspaper Congress and World
Editors Forum in Hyderabad, India, at the end of that month.
For its part, the IfraExpo is being cut to three days instead of the usual four (and everyone seems happy with that), with the show moving to Hamburg. Reiner Mittelbach, the organiser’s co-chief executive, says they expect to do “even better” then.
Pity they can’t do anything about the weather: There have been no Australian delegates in Vienna (and precious few among vendors) but like the Indians I spoke to this morning, I can’t get back to the warmth of home soon enough!
• More reports to follow and in GXpress November.