The cancellation of NPE 2021 was certainly a loss for the plastics industry. The excitement of seeing so much new technology in one location and the opportunity for buyers and sellers to stand in front of a new machine and talk about it cannot be replaced.
The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) made the right call when it canceled the triennial trade show over safety concerns related to COVID-19. Because of the size and electrical power requirements of NPE, it could not be easily postponed or moved to a different venue or later date.
To me, 2024 seems like a long time to wait until the next show. But in the meantime, processors are buying new equipment and machinery builders are predicting strong sales.
Machinery sales dropped precipitously in the first quarter of 2020 but climbed the following three quarters, according to PLASTICS Committee on Equipment Statistics. Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 86 percent of reporting companies foresee market conditions to be steady-to-better.
Michael Wittmann, managing director and CEO of the Wittmann Group, said in a recent press release that orders are strong across all markets and sectors of the industry, and that sales this year will likely be up double digits over last year and might exceed 2019 numbers.
The Wittmann Group sells injection molding machines and a wide range of auxiliary equipment, including robots. It operates eight production plants in five countries.
This issue of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing departs from our regular format and contains 100 Product Innovations. The original intent was to show off new products being introduced at NPE. Instead, it highlights the latest products and equipment exhibitors could have displayed if there had been a show.
I believe the cancellation of NPE makes this collection of new equipment profiles even more important to buyers. There is no substitute for walking down the trade show aisle and stopping at a booth that catches your eye, but the equipment that might have made you pause at the show could be in this magazine.
We also plan more complete stories on new equipment over the next four months.
Machinery and equipment manufacturers are doing a good job using videos, webinars and chat capabilities to introduce their new wares. The downside is that in our busy workday, we tend to carve out time to catch up on brands we know and are too busy for the others.
Industry suppliers have adapted, but buyers have been slower to embrace a process that does not include trade shows and visits from machinery salespeople. Processors might need to rethink their machinery acquisition strategies.
There has been some speculation that the changes caused by COVID will mean we have seen the beginning of the end of mega trade shows like Germany’s K show, Chinaplas and NPE. I doubt it, although they might never return to their pre-COVID sizes. We will probably have to wait until Fakuma later this year in Germany and the K show and Chinaplas in 2022 before we make that assessment.
Ron Shinn, editor