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.

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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