A visit to Heidelberg’s first Primefire customer Multi Packaging Solutions

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chief executive officer of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. Photo PSA

The Heidelberg Packaging Days opened on the evening of 7 November, at the iconic glass-and-steel Print Media Academy building in the city with chief executive officer Rainer Hundsdorfer welcoming the assembled printers, converters and large contingents of print journalists from Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The Packaging Days demonstrations of a large number of the company’s packaging presses and converting equipment from its partner MasterWork took place the next day at the newer Print Media Academy and demonstration center at the company’s main manufacturing site in Wiesloch just outside the city. Apart from Hundsdorfer’s welcome, a short keynote was delivered by Steffen Schnizer of Multi Packaging Solutions which just three months ago became the first customer to install a Heidelberg Primefire B1 digital press.

The demonstrations at Wiesloch showed Heidelberg’s strong focus on delivering value to the packaging converter with the multicolor presses and coaters showing value additions that enable them to be the most innovative and profitable suppliers to leading global brands. The demonstrations of the XL75 Anicolor 8-color plus double coater, the XL106 8-color with double coater and foiler and the XL145 6-color plus coater running at a full speeds of 18,000 showed the company’s workflow and make-ready software prowess.

Cartons using Heidelberg‘s Multicolor 7-color software and the new Intellistart II lining up the jobs on the press consoles demonstrated the company’s extensive domain knowledge that is being incorporated increasingly in software-based solutions that enable its customers to be the most efficient innovators. MasterWork diecutters with foiling and blanking options and a range of folder-gluers rounded out the company’s comprehensive packaging options in an atmosphere where customers could explore their own futuristic solutions.

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Steffen Schnizer, managing director of Multi Packaging Solutions in Obersulm, Germany. Photo PSA

Multi Packaging Solutions

We had an opportunity to visit the first installation of the Primefire 106 B1 digital press at Multi Packaging Solutions, which is a member of the West Rock group in nearby Obersulm. Schnizer explained that for his company digital means a new level of offerings to his customers that go beyond mere digital printing and offer a range of security and interactive packaging solutions. “Digital for us is not only digital printing. Digital is really helping our brand owners to be more successful.”

The highlight was, of course, to see the Primefire 106 in live production inside a sophisticated plant where it was meant to and where it well matched the quality of Multi Packaging Solutions’ impressive array of special application sheetfed offset presses. And at first look, the press meets the high standard of color reproduction quality and precision that is a part of the Heidelberg promise. As Schnizer said, “We are a leading producer of high-quality cartons for the cosmetic industry and we do some work for the luxury liquor brands. Although within the West Group we have had experience with digital for 17 years, until the Heidelberg Primefire 106 press, digital was not good enough for high value cosmetic and personal care cartons. It is early days, but so far we are pleased with the results of our partnership with Heidelberg.”

Located just 90 minutes from Heidelberg’s Wiesloch factory, Multi Packaging Solutions has pioneered several packaging innovations in partnership with Heidelberg. These include the development of full UV interdeck and end-of-press coating solutions wherein the first presses were installed at Obersulm and went on to become industry benchmarks. At the same time Schnizer is able to already enumerate several ways in which the new Primefire becomes a part of the company’s solutions in delivering innovation and value to its customers. As and when Multi Packaging Solutions is able to show the value and possibilities of the Primefire project, the investment could also have considerable value for the other members of the West Rock group.

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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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