Heidelberg a driving force behind digitization

Heidelberg at PrintChina 2019

World premiere for Heidelberg at Print China – cloud-based “boxuni” web-to-pack platform delivers quick, simple, and cost-effective customized packaging.

At the recently concluded PrintChina event in Guangdong, Heidelberg presented an impressive showcase on digitizing the printing industry. The event was the largest in its field in the most important growth market for the printing industry. “The interest shown by customers in response to our digital solutions for optimizing the entire system and for developing new business models was very gratifying. It was highly evident at the trade fair that we are also actively driving forward the digitization of our sector with innovative approaches in China,” said Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer.

Digital packaging printing and Smart Print Shop at the center of customers’ focus topics relating to digital packaging printing, particularly the new ‘boxuni’ web-to-pack platform, proved the most appealing, addressing the interests of packaging designers, print buyers, and packaging manufacturers in a single ecosystem. Some 1,000 people were drawn to the simultaneous open house on this subject at Heidelberg customer Xianjunlong, where both companies jointly demonstrated an end-to-end production line for digital packaging printing – starting with the web-to-pack platform, then printing on a Primefire 106 from Heidelberg, and finishing off with the postpress processing systems from Masterworks, a partner of Heidelberg.

Another popular highlight was the range of presentations by Heidelberg on the Smart Print Shop and its seamlessly digital workflow, and the opportunities presented by autonomous and navigated printing.

Print China 2019 – the crowds at the Heidelberg booth demonstrate customers’ keen interest in digital solutions.

The company secured numerous sales contracts throughout the four days of the trade fair for the Speedmaster SX 102, including the Performance Kit, the Versafire EV digital printing system, and the integrated finishing systems from Heidelberg and Polar. The take-up number for services was particularly satisfying, considering that China is known to be traditionally more reticent in this regard. Some 10% of these contracts were sealed via the brand new WeChat online platform.

“The Chinese printing industry shows a high level of enthusiasm and interest toward new, data-based business models, digital platform solutions, and end-to-end digitized value creation chains,” said Professor Ulrich Hermann, member of the Management Board responsible for Lifecycle Solutions and Chief Digital Officer at Heidelberg. “Even more than anywhere else in the world, Heidelberg benefits in China from its image as the top brand in the industry. This consequently makes it one of the first ports of call for the industry-focused Chinese customers with regard to these relatively new topics as well.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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