All shook up, or simply smart

Heidelberg at drupa 2016

At the Gallus factory in St Gallen: Christof Naier, vice president – VP sales and service label business, Gallus; Rene Ludvigsen, CEO of Heidelberg Asia Pacific; Michael Ring, vice president – worldwide sales and marketing, Digital Solutions Gallus; Ferdinand Reusch, Gallus. Photo IPP

Amongst the public actions that Linzbach has taken in the past three years are the full acquisition of Gallus in which Heidelberg was a 30% shareholder and acquired the balance 70% of Gallus that was owned by Ferdinand Reusch. With about 9% of Heidelberg stock, Reusch is now the single largest private shareholder of Heidelberg which he says gives Gallus the access to technology and the industry clout that it needs to undertake projects such as building the DCS 340 digital label press in collaboration with Heidelberg and Fujifilm.

When the Gallus DCS 340 configured with Fuji Dimatix Samba 1200 x 1200 dpi printheads was first shown in St. Gallen in September 2014, Linzbach openly said that it was one of the first results of Heidelberg’s strategy to work with best-in-class technology partners. That it was no longer possible for a company to build new high technology industrial products on its own.

Gallus Labelfire 340
Hitherto known as the Gallus DCS 340, the just renamed Gallus Labelfire 340 is a fully integrated web-fed label press with flexo and foiling stations preceding the 8-color UV inkjet engine based on Fuji drop on demand heads leading to a varnishing, semi-rotary diecutting and slitting and rewinding stations. The completely integrated hybrid solution running at 50 metres a minute and driven by the Heidelberg Prinect digital front end was demonstrated live at the Labelexpo 2015 in Brussels this past September.

On 17 February in St. Gallen, as a prelude to its presentation at drupa 2016 as the Gallus Labelfire 340, the 8-color digital engine configured to run white and Heidelberg’s own Multicolor fixed set of UV inks consisting of CYMK, orange, violet and green, the system was once again demonstrated printing a 4-color label on labelstock. Already running 24 x 7 at a beta site, the first installation of series production presses is expected in April with as many as 20 delivery slots in Europe and America in the first year.

Heidelberg 4.0
At the event this week in Heidelberg for the trade media from Asia Pacific, North America and Europe, Heidelberg indicated that it wants to use drupa 2016 to project itself as the driving force behind the industry’s digitization of the entire supply and print production chain. This entails using its Prinect software, eCommerce and the cloud for everything from creating the fully integrated and automation friendly pressroom; to maintenance and performance monitoring including performance and productivity enhancing consulting; to pressroom consumables.

Heidelberg Primefire 106 at drupa
The new Primefire 106 7-color digital printing system shown at its R&D centre in Heidelberg has been developed in close collaboration with Fujifilm and the 70 x 100 cm press is clearly aimed at the industrial printing market which can be also be read as the board packaging market. Only one printed sheet purportedly ‘the first sheet printed two weeks ago’ was shown at a considerable distance to the audience in the PMA auditorium near the R&D centre so nothing can be meaningfully said at this point about the print quality achieved so far. The press looks has a typical Heidelberg feeder and delivery and includes a conditioning unit for paper and board preceding the the digital imaging unit with the heads mounted in an arc on top of what looks like the top half of a stationary common impression cylinder. The press could in fact turn out to be wider than an offset press for similar paper widths but in fairness one should wait for drupa.

Using aqueous inks and the robust Fujifilm Dimatix Samba 1200 x 1200 dpi inkjet heads that have also been used on the Fujifilm Jetpress 720 B2 press with 70 installations so far, the Heidelberg Primefire 106 is designed to open up new market segments by making industrial printing even more flexible. “We will take our industry into a new digital era by stepping up our investment in the digital and services growth segments. Our customers expect us to deliver added value and enhanced business opportunities, and we are actively helping them make the transformation to a digitized future,” said Linzbach.

Developed jointly with Fujifilm in less than two years, the new Primefire 106 digital printing system from Heidelberg will have its world premiere at drupa in end-May. Following the presentation at drupa, the sales launch is scheduled for 2017. Fujifilm which will also sell the Primefire 106 will come up with its own name for the press before drupa according to Takashi Yanagawa, senior vice president of Fujifilm’s Graphic Systems Division who took part in the press conference along with Fujifilm chairman and CEO Hitoshi Yoshida.

Simply smart
Heidelberg will be presenting the industry’s digitized future under the motto ‘Simply Smart’ at drupa 2016 in Düsseldorf. In addition it is planning to create its own mini-drupa at its factory in Weisloch near Heidelberg where it expects perhaps 4,000 or 5,000 drupa visitors to have a more complete and detailed look at its entire array of sheetfed offset and digital presses.

The print market as a whole is increasingly moving toward shorter, more personalized runs. In response to the double-digit annual growth rates of digital printing, Heidelberg now offers a comprehensive digital portfolio that is integrated with the company’s latest offset solutions. “Integrated print shops fare better in a difficult market environment. Automation is the key to remaining competitive in the printing sector. The digitized value chain will be indispensable for most printing companies simply to remain fit for the future,” said Stephan Plenz, member of the management board responsible for Heidelberg Equipment and one of the key drivers of the Primefire 106 project along with Jason Oliver who is basically now the go to man at Heidelberg for most if not all of its digital press and integration initiatives.

Michael Ring, vice president – worldwide sales and marketing, Digital Solutions Gallus, with the open engine of the Gallus DCS 340, now known as the Gallus Labelfire 340. Photo IPP

Digitized value chain in a fully integrated pressroom
The basis for this is an integrated software platform enabling a continuous flow of data – from job acceptance to the machines and on to order processing. Heidelberg has combined its entire portfolio in the Prinect print and media workflow. In conjunction with a completely new control system design and concept for sheetfed offset presses, an increasing number of steps for automatic pressroom operation are making their way into the printing systems.

With the new Speedmaster generation from Heidelberg, the reality of an autonomous pressroom is getting ever closer. “In the Smart Print Shop of the future, we will be demonstrating that Heidelberg is more than the sum of its machines. The benchmark will no longer be the break-even point for individual systems, but the performance of our customers’ entire value chain. We offer solutions for everything – from completely new business innovations to highly efficient overall processes,” explains Plenz.

Cloud-based service platform to boost competitiveness
The company is working on a new cloud-based service platform that covers the entire Heidelberg service portfolio and makes it easily accessible. This platform is based on the Remote Service network operated by Heidelberg, which links over 10,000 machines and a further 15,000 software products to the Heidelberg service portfolio.

Associated services such as Remote Monitoring and Performance Plus are provided on this platform and not only help customers with press availability, but also with improving their overall productivity. The large number of machines in the network is key to the quality of the individual service products and productivity recommendations.

Customers gain access to the service platform via a customer portal that includes various apps. All the information, support, and contacts customers require from Heidelberg are to hand – from an overview of their installed equipment and available updates to fault messages and self-help tools. “In the digitized world of the future, customers will have all the information they need to optimize their company’s operations at a glance. We also offer our customers concrete solutions to maximize machine availability, increase their overall productivity, and obtain very easy access to consumables tested by Heidelberg,” said Harald Weimer, member of the management board responsible for Heidelberg Services. Heidelberg already generates nearly 50% of its sales with service and consumables and is continuously expanding its service portfolio.

Packaging South Asia is the cooperating media partner for drupa 2016 which is scheduled to be held from 31 May to 10 June at Dusseldorf, Germany.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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