With three business units represented at Fakuma 2021, the Extrusioneers at Reifenhäuser Group have brought a sizable presence to the show in Friedrichshafen.
Chief Sales Officer Ulrich Reifenhäuser of the Reifenhäuser Group was asked about returning to in-person shows after an almost two-year hiatus and talked a little about the effects in general of the pandemic on business and on the company's various projects.
Q: Let's start with the show. It's been awhile — almost two years — since the last major live plastics trade show was held here in Germany. Or in Europe, for that matter. How did you feel about having to go completely digital during the pandemic? And did it require much adjustment in the way you communicated with the market?
Reifenhäuser: For us, live trade shows are essential. And of course, we had to adapt. We expanded our digital channels during the corona pandemic, putting a strong focus on virtual events. In fact, these will continue to play a much stronger role in the future — but considering that our business is about big investments, personal trust is what counts when it comes to making a purchase decision. And that is something that cannot be built up via video calls alone. That's why we're glad to finally be able to meet our customers in person again.
And Fakuma is an excellent venue for this, in a particularly beautiful region of Germany, right on Lake Constance.
Q: That's very true — as far as venues go, it would be hard to find one in an area with more scenic beauty. However, the action for those in the industry is mostly indoors, in the halls of Messe Friedrichshafen. Your stand is in Hall A6. Is it the same size it always was, or have you had to make adjustments?
Reifenhäuser: Unfortunately, we have had to reduce the size of our stand due to the new corona specifications. However, if this means that we can hold another trade fair at all, we are happy to accept this!
Q: What about your customers who may be hesitant to attend or simply unable to travel: Is there any kind of virtual possibility to visit the stand?
Reifenhäuser: Yes, last year, during the pandemic, we digitized our technology center at our main site making a 360-degree visit possible, in order to be able to demonstrate our lines to customers virtually. Visitors can experience this guided 360-degree tour both on-site in Friedrichshafen at the trade show and from their home screens — and not only during Fakuma, but of course also beyond!
Q: The last big plastics show in Europe was, I think, K 2019. What have been the main developments at Reifenhäuser since then?
Reifenhäuser: A lot has happened in the past two years. Probably the most impressive developments revolve, of course, around sustainable plastics production. Thus, the focus of this year's Fakuma is also on the change from a linear to a circular economy and the resulting new requirements for components and production lines. When processing recyclate, the extruder in particular plays a decisive role, as the recyclate quality often fluctuates and impurities or abrasive ingredients must also be processed safely. Therefore, we offer our customers correspondingly highly wear-resistant screws and barrels.
In addition, we have also worked a lot on the design of sustainable and fully recyclable end products. Here, we have developed line concepts in both the flat film and blown film sectors that produce high-performance films, even with barrier function, on a monomaterial basis.