Heidelberg a driving force behind digitization

Heidelberg at PrintChina 2019

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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.”

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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