Packaging printer strengthens market position with Speedmaster XL 106

Successful installation during COVID-19 time

Already looking forward to resuming production with the new generation of the Speedmaster XL 106 (left to right): Timo Schäfer, Michael Fritz from Heidelberg Sales Germany, and Udo Schäfer.

The wait was worth it. Schäfer Druck & Verpackung in Werther has been a hive of activity for several days with the installation of the Speedmaster XL 106 2020 generation from Heidelberg. It represents the first installation of an elevated press for a packaging printer in Germany. A new foundation up to two meters deep was poured specifically for the Speedmaster XL 106-6+L. Schäfer Druck & Verpackung added a countdown to its homepage to count down the days to the installation, which given the coronavirus pandemic had to be planned even more carefully to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. Schäfer Druck & Verpackung specializes in folding cartons for the food industry and numbers well-known brands from the confectionery and frozen food sectors among its long-standing customers. The staff of 43 produces for companies in these sectors in the region, as well as for customers from across Germany.

“Flexibility, reliability, and proximity to the customer with round-the-clock accessibility,” is how Timo Schäfer describes the factors behind the success of the company he has headed up as managing director for the past four years. His father Udo Schäfer established the company in 1987 to print advertising materials and forms. The company moved to a new building ten years later, adding small carton batches to its commercial print activities with a Speedmaster CD 74. After replacing that press with a Speedmaster XL 75-6+L , the company made the full switch to cartons and for more than fifteen years has only been producing folding cartons and shelf trays. “Now we’re taking the next step and switching the format class from 75 to 106. Our customers rely on our flexibility and speed, and our intention with this investment is to maintain and, needless to say, continue to build on this,” explains Timo Schäfer.

Path to growth and a format change with Speedmaster

“Our company operates three shifts, five days a week, and we have a very good level of capacity utilization,” says Timo Schäfer. Its orders span the entire spectrum of short, medium, and also long runs. “Folding cartons for the food industry will always be needed, and demand for confectionery items and frozen goods, in particular, is very high at the moment against the backdrop of the pandemic crisis.” Even before the crisis, it was clear that more capacity should be created for customers to enable fast and flexible deliveries. “We did look at other manufacturers as well, but ultimately were won over by the complete package from Heidelberg with the new press generation and the Prinect Production Manager print shop workflow,” says Timo Schäfer in detailing the decision. The company already uses folder gluers as well as die-cutting and hot-foil machines in 3B format in postpress. It was therefore a logical step to also install the printing presses in this format now, thereby doubling capacity.

“The new 2020 generation of the Speedmaster XL 106 is a milestone for our company and, together with the state-of-the-art machines in postpress also, enables us to offer our customers innovative products,” explains Timo Schäfer proudly. “We expect the new printing press to significantly reduce our makeready times so that we can produce even the shortest runs economically and achieve high productivity. With the Push to Stop concept and the intelligent assistant, we see ourselves as a pioneer in packaging printing in also making the most of the high level of automation of the press.”

The printers at Schäfer Druck & Verpackung are already looking forward to resuming production in June and to a modern and innovative workstation.

Even greater digitization in the future

The new 2020 generation of the Speedmaster XL 106 is the most intelligent and most highly automated Speedmaster yet. At Schäfer Druck & Verpackung, it is supplied with the next-generation inline color measurement system Inpress Control and Image Control – the color measurement system for optimal quality in the entire print image. Together with fast printing plate changes using Autoplate Pro, makeready times are cut down. Equally important is the incorporation of the press into the print shop’s processes via the Prinect Production Manager workflow.

“We’re proud of the long-standing and unfailingly good partnership with the innovative and fast-growing company Schäfer Druck & Verpackung,” says Tino Bardong, Head of Press Product Management at Heidelberg Vertrieb Deutschland. “Both Schäfer Druck & Verpackung and Heidelberg focus on the customer, are solution-oriented, and are working more intensively on digitizing processes.”

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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