It was a mixed crowd hosted by Düsseldorf in the middle of May. I was pleased to be attending Interpack with inevitably sore
feet rather than the Eurovision Song Contest with inevitably sore ears. Unsurprisingly, fabulous German beer flowed freely
in both camps and helped quash all symptoms of fatigue, and Düsseldorf became a regular little party town.
The 2011 event was my first Interpack experience, and I was bowled over by the effort that exhibitors put into displaying
their machines and products in the very best light. For a number of companies, the triennial event was also a cause for celebration,
and if the size of the stands was anything to go by, money was no object.
For Bosch, the number of anniversaries was bewildering, but perhaps the most impressive was the 125th year since the company
was founded. The many staff supporting the some 2200m3 of stand space were all clearly proud of this fact and spoke about the innovations on display at the show with great enthusiasm.
But a couple of other things really stole the show for me. The first was a 3D virtual reality tour of an Optima machine. I
am unsure as to whether this is the first time such technology has been used at a tradeshow before but I was certainly impressed,
if not slightly disorientated having sampled the quality of beverages on offer in the Aldstadt the night before. However,
it was clear that the ability to show simulations of processing lines in this way will catch on quickly, especially as it
apparently utilises existing schematic drawings.
I had thought that this moment was not to be equalled, but I was wrong. Once again I found myself in a darkened room for another
cinematic experience: IMA's short film celebrating "50 years of passion" was impressively produced and smoothly narrated,
but not out of the ordinary. The unexpected climax, however, left me spellbound, as the actual actor from the film walked
out through the screen to deliver the final line of the presentation. From there we entered the "sensitive box"—a multi-sensory
experience in which we walked on water and kicked virtual tablets across the floor...
It would seem that the lengths to which companies go to differentiate themselves from their competitors knows no bounds. The
bar was certainly raised very high at Interpack 2011 (as were the multi-storey stands) and no doubt there will be much scheming
by companies on how to wow customers at the next show. Let's just hope that as much effort, innovation and enthusiasm goes
into the technologies they are promoting.
Rich Whitworth, Editor