At Gallus Innovation Days, held at the Gallus headquarters in St. Gallen, Switzerland from 20 to 22 September 2016, Gallus showcased a new label press architecture. The new Labelmaster comes with a wider web width of 440 mm and is available in three variants—Basic, Plus and Advanced. During the event, Packaging South Asia caught up with the team of Heidelberg, who spoke at length about the roadmap ahead for the company.
Stephan Plenz, management board member of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and head of the Heidelberg Equipment Division said, “In today’s world, an exhibition cannot change the size of the market. drupa has helped us in reaching out to our target audience with the right kind of products. Worldwide, the European and the North American markets are performing strongly although the Asian markets have not been giving us the volumes or growth figures as before. However, the Indian market is obviously a special market for us. It is still involved with second-hand presses. There are a few new presses coming in the packaging segment but on the commercial front, the market’ has been pretty much flat. New presses are coming in mostly in the lower priced segments. The last six months have been good for us however, with a few 74 4-color and CS 92 presses coming in from the Ching Pu plant in China,” he said.
During the second quarter of 2016–17, Heidelberg significantly increased its operating result compared to the previous year, and also achieved a positive net result after taxes. After the first six months, the result was still below the previous year’s figures due to sales and costs associated with the drupa trade show. However, as a result of drupa, incoming orders upped by around 6% and the order backlog went up around 19%.
According to Christoff Naier, vice president – sales and services, Label, the Gallus Innovation Days opened avenues to meet and interact with existing customers as well as form new associations. “ We were pleasantly surprised by the response we received at the launch of the Labelfire press last time as our customers spent their money and time to come all the way here and see our machines.”
According to him, the market for a below 13-inch flexo label press has shrunk to less than 10% of the overall label market worldwide. In the 13-inch space, which has a market size of 15-20%, Gallus has its ECS 340 which has been universally adopted by the label printers worldwide. The markets for the space between 340 and 400 mm have been attended to by its RCS and EMS models, both of which are high-end presses with process-exchange possible along with flexible configurations. “When we further researched into the market needs, we felt there is a demand for machines with a wider web-width with lower automation, lower flexibility in terms of configuration but with a better price ratio. The new Labelmaster is a machine which completely fits the bill for us.”
Samir Patkar, managing director of Gallus India, said that in a typical scenario, a label printer wants to print fast with volumes getting larger but keeping in mind that SKUs are getting shorter by the day, it translates into multi-brand printing. “The Labelmaster is a perfect fit for a printer who wants to go for a high-volume print run for multi-brands. As an example, for a Kingfisher label printed in India, typically it is a wet glue substrate with a height of 110 mm which normally requires 8- or 9-color printing. The requirement for these labels are about 15 million sets a month for a printer. Now, if a printer wants to print three sets together, which makes it about 330 mm, and then if you count the bearers and the matrix, it is beyond the specifications of a EM 280 or a ECS 340 press. Also, in case of FMCG, with a lot of promotional offerings, you often have to increase the label sizes by 20 mm. Thus, wider label presses will be hugely versatile and beneficial for the industry.”
Ferdinand Ruesch, anchor investor in Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG said, “We spoke to various customers in Europe as well as in emerging economies such as China and India to understand the key requirements and needs. The reason why Heidelberg associated with Gallus is because together, with our combined portfolios, we can meet each and every requirement of a customer—whether he is a label printer, a converter or a sheetfed printer. We offer offset, flexo and digital. In brief, we have all the solutions and it is up to our customer to pick and choose the technology according to their needs. If the printer makes money out of the machine purchased, we too make money at the end of the day. We have truly become a one-stop shopping point for our customers.”