WATCH OUT: that’s the way the world is going!

Editorial by Stefano Lavorini. Interview with Bernd Jablonowski… Freely expressed considerations on the role, on the strategies in the international field and on the future of specialised fairs.

«I have a lot of good news» Bernd Jablonowski graciously started out by saying in a chat “between old sector hands”, referring first and foremost to the increase in the number of Italian exhibitors at interpack, and only after that to the further growth of the fair, where the prospects are for a truly surprising edition (see on this count the shoulder article on the data given in the Milan press conference and the most emblematic facts of the 2017 edition).
More square metres of floorspace but also more contents, thanks to a product offer that is ever broader overall, that strives to relate the IoT with production, processes with packaging, technology with the pressing social issues of safeguarding the environment as well as consumer safety.
For years director of the event, Jablonowski is today head of the Messe Duesseldorf Global Portfolio Packaging & Processing. A position he won by merit in the field and thanks to his personal determination, but also due to his exceptional capacity to mediate the vision of a strong industrial subject like Messe Duesseldorf with the awareness that at any rate the globalized world might always reserve a surprise or two.
His imperative in fact seems to be that of anticipating and innovating, though remaining with his feet firmly on the ground, or that is knowing where and how to invest on a global level in order to grow, without fear of reneging on projects that might constitute an obstacle to business growth.
Many years ago, when we met up for the first time, you were worried as to the nature of the traditional business of B2B fairs, both the national ones, as well as events the calibre of interpack. Have you changed your opinion?

No, the sentiment is still the same: in Europe fairs are gradually losing exhibitors and, consequently, reducing their spaces. The focus seems to be to shift over to events of an international standing or to shows that are held in certain emerging markets. It should be added that, even if running counter to the negative trend, interpack too has to deal with the structural changes of the market: sales, mergers and company unifications are the order of the day, big industrial concerns are creating new divisions, shifting their productive axis to fields different to the past. Just as an example I am thinking of what IMA are doing in Italy or Bosch in Germany in terms of refocussing their activities.

Africa, India, China… These are the frontiers of your coming commitments, with a strategy that appears to focus on “regional” events, without though forgetting the deeply international nature of your organization.
Messe Duesseldorf has changed its structure and, in view of a unitary strategy that highlights the competencies in the packaging and processing fields, we have created the “interpack alliance” umbrella brand, that in the future will mark out all our international shows associated with Global Portfolio Processing & Packaging for which I am responsible. Driven by specific market demands, we have organized events in Africa, but we are by now aware of the difficulty of operating in that area according to our rationale and our type of organization. We shall hence decide on a course of action. And if in India we have in actual fact undertaken a “regional” approach, in China we aim to develop a big fair. Which is why we are partering with ADSALE, a leading organizer of events in China.
The German fair organizers seem to be evermore in competition with each other, given the difficulty of planning events of great standing, maybe in the Far East. How are you tackling the competition on the domestic market?
We are convinced that at times working together on a project makes sense: for example we are organizing our events in India in parallel to the one of Messe München and the fair organized by us in Mumbai is growing nicely. It makes sense to collaborate there, but in Germany… in Europe… we are fully competitors, given the evermore extensive overlapping between some shows.
The same goes for the Italian organizers we are in contact with.
Other German trade fair organizations have though taken a different path and, thanks to structured agreements, have extended their exhibition offer to compensate for the reduction in the number of exhibitors.
In other words, we are all called upon to change mentality and methods in order to face new challenges.
At a time when everyone’s attention is focussed on the “digitalisation” of business, fairs continue to be tremendously “physical”…
It was said that, with the web, the B2B fairs would disappear (the same with hard copy magazines). interpack demonstrates the opposite, because personal contact is fundamental even in this historic moment in time, and this is true everywhere. Indeed this will be the case for many years to come.
In time interpack has changed a lot, something that was inevitable. This year we couldn’t certainly fail to tackle the questions associated with Industry 4.0, a field in which everything sounds easy and simple, but where in actual fact this is not the case. Many the rules to be respected and the doubts that need to be cleared up: Who owns the data? And is the information really safe? Should the intelligence be inside the machine or should it govern the machine from the outside? Will our customers, in the future, be Microsoft, Amazon, Google? And how will the industry react to the new pressures and challenges?
To attempt an answer, in cooperation with the VDMA, we have decided to set up a fully functioning line in a specially dedicated space, that wishes to be a first practical translation of the principles of the Internet of Things.
But not only that: with the Components Area we will place a further focus on automation, given that data digitalization and automation are closely connected.

RELATED ARTICLES: What’s going on in “packaging city”
Data and facts out of interpack 2017. Overall exhibition space expands, as well as Italian presence. New location for Components, more space for Industry 4.0, Save Food consolidates.



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