Heidelberg – It’s showtime for something big!

An industry watcher makes a wild guess at the mystery

Screen shot of the Heidelberg It's Showtime video promising 'Something Big'
Screen shot of the Heidelberg It's Showtime video promising 'Something Big'

Heidelberg is widely promoting a virtual event with teaser videos hinting at ‘Something Big’ on 23 June. China Print in Beijing also takes place from 23 to 27 June. While the short video has aroused curiosity, the company is playing it close to its chest as to what ‘something big’ might be.

Readers can access the one-minute videos from various websites, including ours, and through Heidelberg’s website and social media. While the initial videos only tease that ‘something big’ will be revealed, other videos may contain further links and hints in the coming days. However, the company seems determined to build up the mystery of what exactly will be revealed. Even in the first five days of the campaign, the industry has woken up and taken an interest.

One guess is that the Heidelberg Showtime event will be shown live from China Print in Beijing to a global audience. An hour’s session to be followed by one-on-one appointments with Heidelberg experts and local Heidelberg staff similar to the virtual event in September 2020? One is guessing that Indian printers will be able to make appointments with Heidelberg experts and the Heidelberg India team led by Samir Patkar.

Keep in mind that the ‘something big’ title contrasts with Heidelberg’s recent efforts in slimming down the company. More than a year ago, and even before the pandemic, as a part of its restructuring plan, the company discontinued the manufacture of its large size XL162 and XL145 presses, leaving the segment to other manufacturers. In the past year, it also tried unsuccessfully to divest Gallus, a deal that ultimately fell through and for which it’s suing the erstwhile buyer, Benpac, for Euro 50 million.

Nevertheless, the company’s restructuring (including the early payment of some of its debt at the end of 2020) seems to be working, and the company has said it will be returning to profit at the end of this financial year. For the industry and especially for its many customers, Heidelberg’s return to health and viability are themselves, ‘Something Big.’

Heidelberg – It’s showtime for something big!

What else could Something Big be?

With the increasing strength of the packaging segment in the pandemic year and Heidelberg asserting that it is the largest press supplier to the monocarton printers, could it be a big press? Will Heidelberg revive the XL145 or launch a more economical model in that format? The demand for monocartons has increased globally. With Heidelberg openly looking at expanding its manufacturing in China, which is also its biggest market, could we see the launch of a new ‘Something Big’ packaging press on 23 June?

No matter the big thing, looking at the partners for the event, packaging will be a big part of it, as will print enhancement and embellishment. Among the event partners, Masterwork for die-cutting, folder-gluers, and foil stamping are there, as are foil and metallic ink and technology suppliers Kurz and Univacco. IST Metz for UV curing and global film supplier Jindal are partnering the event, as are die-cutting tech suppliers Kocher + Beck and Marbach. Buchmann Karton is a paperboard supplier, and Jeco and Stocklin bring plastic pallets and logistics systems, and guided vehicles for material movement.

Everything points to packaging and embellishment, but this is all just a guess. The big thing is that Heidelberg is back and has the whole print world wondering what it will reveal on 23 June. Your guess is as good as mine, but they have certainly got our attention. Let’s sign up and have a look for ourselves.

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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