ACIMGA Italian manufacturers of machinery for the graphic, converting and paperboard-converting industry are relaunching globally and strengthening their association with projects of strategic scope, a policy of industry alliances and community synergies, laying the groundwork for a new fair that is sure to be much talked about.

A new headquarters, a new logo, a new calendar of wide-ranging events organized jointly with other industry institutions and a radical realignment of B2B fairs for printing and converting. Acimga, it’s safe to say, is always active. This is also true from a logistical standpoint: after an initial relocation, two years ago, to the Assocomaplast headquarters, the association has moved once more, this time north of Milan, at the Ucimu building, home to Federmacchine. In fact, Acimga shares with the instrumental mechanics federation the outlook of the “Pesenti reform”, its leadership (Marco Calcagni is vice-president of Federmacchine as well as president of Acimga) and a series of important services, first and foremost in technical/regulatory and economic/statistical areas.
This dynamism propels the association’s remarkable orientation towards service and a pragmatic farsightedness that leads it to pursue ambitious goals, all coordinated to serve the ultimate aim of industrial development in the sector. This industry is made up for the most part of small enterprises which enjoy national and international success in spite of major deficiencies in the national economic system. The latest numbers on the sector confirm this: according to initial end of year data for 2015, the sector’s turnover amounted to 2.2 billion Euro, with 5% growth and 78% exports (Italy is the world’s second largest supplier, second only to Germany, with a total share of 13.5%). Furthermore, last year saw the highly anticipated resurgence of domestic investments, which generated growth in imports (+19%) and, most importantly, gave an advantage to Italian manufacturing, whose sales went up by 38%, from 360 to 500 million Euro (a level that had not been reached since 2000, observers have noted).
The importance and further potential of this sector are therefore the target of a dynamic and ambitious association policy which has changed everything in record time – including the logo, which has just been reinvented with new graphics and pay off (from the historic Made “in” Italy to the globalized Made “by Italy). Now Acimga is fleshing out some concrete initiatives, discussed here by Acimga director Andrea Briganti.

After changing the organizational structure and implementing a strong orientation towards service in its work as a representative of the industry, Acimga is now engaged in a policy of alliances to multiply the forces at play. What is happening?
What is happening is that we are beginning to see the results of intensive relations work through which we have engaged certain institutions with which we share many interests and objectives. In particular, we have developed a series of initiatives that will see the manufacturers of machinery for the graphics, printing and paper industry represented by Acimga, whose traditions and knowhow have secured them a preeminent position in roto and flexo printing, allied with representatives of foreign enterprises represented by Argi, who have historically been oriented towards offset and digital technologies, as well as with the 4IT Group, which represents Xplor Italia and Fespa Italia, a point of reference for electronic documentation, pad printing, screenprinting, etc. As you can see, together we cover all printing technologies, and presenting ourselves to the market as a united front undoubtedly lends us a much greater appeal.

What do you mean by “presenting ourselves as a united front”?
It means many different things, among which figures the most visible and certainly most recent, the creation of Print4All: a joint brand with shared organization of a totally new fair to represent the sectors previously “covered” by Converflex, Grafitalia and InPrinting. Print4All, then, brings together and replaces three historic fair events for converting, packaging printing and labeling technologies; book and commercial publishing and graphic communication; and industrial printing, especially decorative and functional types. These are technologies which impact the paper, plastic and industrial supports industries, among others, and which cut across various industrial markets. Hence the name Print4All: printing in the service of all applications.
The potential of such a platform, which brings the entire printing community onto the field, are clearly enormous. And there’s more: Print4All is a centerpiece of the “Innovation Alliance”, through which we will coordinate in 2018 with Ipack-Ima and Meat Tech, Plast and Intralogistica, to round out the complete supply chain offer.

A complex project, then, interweaving vertical supply chain alliances with crosscutting community agreements to put in contact supply and demand in a vast and evolving market… Certainly no easy thing to orchestrate…
Indeed, it has required the development of a new business model, focussed on the concept of “disintermediation”. That is to say the elimination, at each fair, of the traditional intermediary between exhibitor and fair center: the organizer that answered to the sector association that owned the brand (in the case of Converflex, for example, the old Centrexpo). The basic idea is that entrusting the sale of spaces and services directly to the fair, in this case FieraMilano, enables offering exhibitor concerns enhanced services at a lower cost. At the same time, it enables the associations like us to focus on strategic marketing, where we can employ our specific knowhow.
FieraMilano, for its part, manages promotion, sales and administration directly, relying on the advantage of its direct relationship with the visitor, which has always been its expertise, and the opportunity to also have a firsthand dialog with the market.

And so Print4All takes shape as the result of an alliance under the umbrella of the broader Innovation Alliance, the mega event which in 2018 will bring together representatives from the entire packaging industry.
Yes, from raw materials to in-house logistics, including plastics converting and the grain-based food of Ipack-Ima and its offshoot Meat Tech… The Innovation Alliance is projected to occupy the entire fair center at Rho, covering a total of 210,000 m2, with FieraMilano acting as director and coordinator. And this will certainly represent a unique promotional opportunity for enterprises, if for no other reason than that it will bring to the fair an unparalleled variety of complementary technologies.

So, the new fair is not the only outstanding new project by Acimga…
Print4All is not our only fair. Acimga continues to organize Upak Italia in Moscow, where once again this year – in spite of the troubling economic climate and a lack of public funding of any kind – Italian industry was the second most well-represented in terms of numbers and prestige. Now, post-Centrexpo, Upak Italia is run by CPA, Acimga’s service center, which operates on the free market as a private entity for all intents and purposes, with the criteria and organization of an enterprise.

Last year you also unveiled a series of community events, based on an original concept that moves beyond the traditional B2B meeting. How was the response? Are you planning more such events?
The response has been more than positive, already with the first meeting organized in 2014 in partnership with Istituto Italiano Imballaggio. This success was reaffirmed at the other meetings held at Converflex, ICE Europe and Expo. We designed them in order to foster direct dialog between packaging producers and users, in order to share information and valuable reflections and, finally, to optimize relations for all sides.
Now we are developing this same concept in partnership with Argi and looking to also involve Assografici with its own specialized groups, and of course again Istituto Italiano Imballaggio.
The final objective is to expand the scope of the community to involve all members in an exchange of information, visions and ideas to encourage growth of a common culture.

Community, dialog, culture: are these buzzwords or programs?
Well-defined, concrete programs. In a presentation at Drupa we will map the megatrends of printing and labeling as they have emerged in a series of joint meetings with Acimga and Argi enterprises. These trends, which we have also verified with Assografici, and which have been validated by the brand owners of Istituto Italiano Imballaggio, have been developed by the 4ITGroup and are the subject of a rigorous study which we will extrapolate and supply greater detail on during a conference scheduled to be held in Palermo on 20-21 September. As before, with the support of ICE-Agenzia we will involve forty or so buyers from the EMEA region and the United States, which will not only contribute to bringing an international scope to the dialog, but will also enjoy the opportunity of visiting Italian enterprises and sites. Similar events will be held again in 2017 in Milan, and, of course, the following year during Print4All. 

The 2018 Innovation Alliance
Print4All will be held from 29 May to 1 June at Fiera Milano Rho, alongside Plast, Ipack-Ima, Meat-Tech and Intralogistica Italia, creating a singular event called “The Innovation Alliance”: an innovative format inspired by an international growth project and a system logic that leverages supply chain synergies to respond to the demands of the market, A to Z.  Visitors will have access to an impressive wealth of knowhow and market – one need only consider, to take one example, that the machinery industry alone represented here is valued at a total of 19.1 billion Euro, presenting affinities and links both in terms of technology and of market.
The event will involve the participation of two major European fair organizers, Fiera Milano and Deutsche Messe, as well as national sector associations: two of them belonging to Federmacchine (Acimga and Assocomaplast, the Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing Machinery and Molds Manufacturers’ Association), alongside Ucima (which represents packaging machinery manufacturers) and Argi (the Graphic Industry Suppliers Association).
The event will feature an unprecedented variety and completeness of products and technologies divided among the five fair brands:
– Ipack-Ima: technologies for processing and packaging;
– Meat-Tech: processing and packaging for the meat industry;
– Plast: technologies for the plastics and rubber industries;
– Print4All: printing and converting;
– Intralogistica Italia: integrated systems for industrial handling and storage.