“A key pillar for Heidelberg’s growth is in the Saphira consumables business, an area where we see growth for the company without the volatility associated with capital equipment sales. There is an opportunity in trying to add value and streamlining some of the purchasing and inventory costs associated with the procurement of consumables.
“We want to become the supplier of consumables to our customers where they don’t need to order anymore; where the materials are always there for customers with whom we have frame contracts. We can streamline some of these procurement and supply costs by having suppliers work with us.
“Coming from a manufacturing background, and having lived all my life with machinery and machine tools, we’ve done that. We want to take away some of the chores from our customers and automate them. Our industry is a little bit behind in this but we have to help our customers become automated. By doing this process we will become a kind of Amazon of the printing industry.”
— Rainer Hundsdorfer speaking to Indian Printer & Publisher at the Heidelberg Packaging Days in Wiesloch on 8 November 2017
As in many other markets globally, the Indian print industry continues to hold significant upside potential for the consumables market, in particular thanks to the growth of the packaging industry. Increasing consumer awareness of quality and cost-effectiveness of after-market products is driving demand for branded solutions. The growth of Heidelberg’s Saphira in the past few years is testimony to the rising adoption of machine-optimized consumables and press room supplies.
Unveiled at drupa 2008, and introduced in India in 2010, Saphira was a slow starter in the Indian market but has eventually gained traction with a comprehensive range of pressroom consumables supported by trained application specialists. Heidelberg India’s print specialists and trainers have gained considerable domain knowledge and they know offset presses as well as day-to-day problem solving. The Saphira products that are designed to deliver consistent and predictable proof-to-print results now represent what can be called a decent slice of the market.
Inks, coatings, rollers, blankets, press supplies, maintenance products and press room chemicals for sheetfed and web-offset presses are sold under the Saphira umbrella by Heidelberg India. “Our branded consumables undergo vigorous and rigorous testing in our research labs to be optimized for not just Heidelberg equipment but any machine in the market, to make it as good as or even better than any competing product. An appropriate certification is issued before the product is released to the market,” says Robert Joseph, business head – Consumables of Heidelberg India.
Consumables do play a pivotal role in print quality while the use of inferior-grade or less-compatible consumables can lead to negative consequences, and at times can even damage press components. “For example, the wrong pressroom chemistry can seriously mess up printing rollers, in addition to creating numerous print quality issues. Substandard consumables can degrade performance and machine life,” adds Joseph.
We asked Joseph if there is any real competitive differentiation offered by Saphira. “Saphira has evolved into a full-fledged application now. It is not just a product line anymore. Heidelberg provides value-added professional support for the Saphira application through site visits and continuous follow-up. Heidelberg factory-trained application specialists assess the situation, inspect the press, and understand the operational aspects before suggesting a suitable range of consumables that can be applied to that equipment. Our application specialists are diligently trained on consumables at the Heidelberg PMC to provide the best machine-optimized consumable solution that boosts productivity and reduces waste. As part of the application support, Heidelberg also provides training to pressroom operators at client sites. As an offset press manufacturer, our superior knowledge of equipment parts positions us at a competitive advantage,” replies Robert.
Heidelberg has exclusive manufacturing tie-ups with New Waterline Chemicals in Germany and AFOSOL in India to produce FOGRA-certified press room chemicals. It has similar agreements with Trelleborg in Italy to make Prinect blankets, UV blankets and coating plates. The resulting consumable products are tested meticulously and certified by Heidelberg Quality Control prior to market release.
Joseph explains that the consumables also support its press business, “Heidelberg India has a dedicated sales network for consumables across the country, and over 70 dealers. A user-friendly eShop is in place for customers to order round the clock (24×7). To achieve quick delivery times, products are warehoused in regions with ample logistics support.”
So, what’s in store for Heidelberg’s consumables business in 2018? “The theme for 2018 is ‘Product Portfolio Management’ to promote pressroom chemicals and blankets in the Indian market. Packaging products, especially UV inks, coatings and special applications will be in special focus in the upcoming year, as packaging growth accelerates,” concludes Joseph.
This article has been corrected on 21 Feb 2018