Posts Tagged ‘Speedmaster’

  • Drupa – the press conferences, Part Two; Heidelberg stands its ground

    Nothing quite like a rousing Heidelberg call to arms to bring the state of the printing industry into focus. Bernard Schreier, CEO, at the customary opening press event affirmed the company’s commitment to remaining the industry leader.

    It’s a fine point and I’m not sure it matters much in the scheme of things, but Heidelberg takes its status as being not only the largest exhibitor at drupa but also the industry leader in its field – sheetfed offset printing. So it was that HP had to do a hurried recall of its statement that the digital giant was the largest exhibitor at the show. HP is the second largest after Heidelberg.

    At previous drupas Heidelberg always took two exhibition halls, easily distancing itself from the next largest exhibitor. This time around it has taken one hall, with the second populated by partners such as Technotrans and Gallus.

    It was openly acknowledged by Schreier that this time around the company is looking to keep costs under control, even while maintaining a certain triumphal positivism. “Heidelberg is and will stay the leader in this market,” he announced. The hall is walled with used printing plates and dominated by the latest large perfecting press, the XL106 -6 +LYYL from where he addressed the assembled press.

    It is a difficult time in the sheetfed offset press business and Heidelberg is seeking ways of diversifying the portfolio. It has its sights firmly set on the packaging industry, and is edging up in size – although still a long way off matching the KBA behemoths. There is a new extended Stitchmaster ST 500 saddle stitcher highlighting the company’s comprehensive finishing solutions.

    It has re-engineered its Speedmaster range, introducing the SX format by integrating high-end productivity enhancements from the larger formats. A Speedmaster Anicolor 75 applies the waste-reduction inking technology to the mid-range. “90% less waste, 50% less make ready and 80% more productivity,” promised Schreier.

    And Heidelberg has the Linoprint range of digital presses, mostly rebadged Ricoh engines. They sit fairly innocuously among the heavy metal on the floor, but reflect the changing state of the market more starkly that anything else.

    One of the most remarkable products on show were two Speedmasters – SM 74 and SM52 – for the small to medium size printers. Undoubtedly genuine Heidelberg presses, they were both manufactured in China. It seems only yesterday, actually 2005, the company rather furtively started manufacturing outside Germany, at Qingpu, near Shanghai. Initially is was only folding machines but that quickly expanded to include small format presses and latterly larger formats, including CD 102s. At that time it was inconceivable Heidelberg would bring Chinese manufactured presses to drupa. But so it is. I’m assured there is no difference in quality control or in any other aspect of the manufacturing and that most of the high technology items are still made in Germany and exported to China for assembly.

    It’s early days in this drupa, which is shaping up as being crucial to the future of many manufacturers, not least Heidelberg. The future is unknown, especially with the banks going on strike in many countries. There is a pent up demand for new printing presses, but if printers cannot access the finance, the next drupa may have a very different landscape.