Heidelberg brings China plans out of the closet

Heidelberg India leverages CS 92 presses from Shanghai

New Masterwork Tianjin site
The new Masterwork 268 acre site in Tianjin where the highly automated joint venture Heidelberg Masterwork production plant is being built Screenshot IPP

Heidelberg and Heidelberg India are no longer shying away from talking about their Chinese manufacturing plant near Shanghai. Probably the best investment by the company in the last 16 years, it is crucial for the cost-effective manufacture and sales of presses for the world’s biggest offset press market, China. It also works well for many of the workhorse multicolor presses needed by Asian printers, including Japan. Indian printers frequently visit China and take part in trips to the factory an hour’s drive from the center of Shanghai.

The Shanghai plant itself is word-class and uses core German manufacturing techniques, component testing, assembly, and testing for increasingly longer and more automated presses. Heidelberg Shanghai is also where the new smaller than B1 in-between format CS 92 press was manufactured with an eye on the Asian market and to compete with similar sizes produced by Komori and RMGT. The new press has led to considerable savings in firmware costs and consumables for commercial printers and has typically made its way into their migration to monocarton printing. Not surprisingly, the CS92 has also made its way to printers beyond Asia.

In its CEO Rainer Hundsdorfer’s relentless pursuit of viability and restructuring, Heidelberg has embraced the Shanghai plant openly. Recently it has even more closely aligned itself with its Chinese minority anchor shareholder Masterwork. And whose die-cutters, foil stamping, and folder gluer equipment are now part of its packaging solutions.

Heidelberg & Materwork jointly to construct an automated intelligent printing equipment production line

In early December 2020, Heidelberg revealed its plans to strengthen the partnership with Masterwork. Expanding their strategic cooperation, the two companies are jointly constructing a new automated intelligent printing equipment production line at Masterwork’s 328-acre site in Tianjin.

Almost 400 customers from Greater China and the Asia-Pacific region attended Heidelberg Commercial Day at the Heidelberg Print Media Center in Shanghai.
Almost 400 customers from Greater China and the Asia-Pacific region attended Heidelberg Commercial Day at the Heidelberg Print Media Center in Shanghai a couple of years ago. Photo Heidelberg

The CS92, only manufactured in Shanghai, is built on the solid Speedmaster CD 102 platform, with a maximum speed of 15,000 sheets an hour. Integrated with Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow for intuitive and straightforward operation, the Speedmaster CS 92 is popular with commercial and packaging printers in Asia and India.

The sheet format, plate size, and other features serve the needs of a printing market in which print runs are getting smaller and job changes more frequent. Printers are keen to increase productivity and reduce capital investment, overheads, and consumable costs. The company has sold and installed 63 printing units of this series in recent times.

The Speedmaster CS 92 4-color presses can print on paper from 0.3 millimeters to 0.6-millimeter thick board. The 63 CS92 press units sold across India include several repeat purchases such as Rahul Print O Pack and Replika Press. There are other takers for a press that helps commercial printers who are looking to monocarton printing and converting for survival and growth.

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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