Ravensburger uses Speedmaster technology from Heidelberg

Highly automated Speedmaster XL 106-5+L with plate to gallery and pallet logistics

Heidelberg and Ravensburger
Front, from left to right - Mirco Klumpp from the Sales and Customer Service team at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Vertrieb Deutschland GmbH (Region South) and Ravensburger’s head of Production, Tobias Liebing. Back, from left to right: Markus Deient, project manager and press operator, Stephan Lehmann, manager printing, and Hans Geist, press operator – all from Ravensburger.

Ravensburger AG produces board and card games, toys, jigsaw puzzles, and children’s books. Boasting German and international brands such as Brio, Think-Fun, and Wonder-Forge, the company employs over 2,300 staff worldwide. Most of its products are developed and manufactured in-house.

The demand for jigsaws and games is currently exhibiting strong growth. This is demonstrated, among other things, by Ravensburger’s in-house print volume, which has increased significantly in recent years. The company’s head of Production, Tobias Liebing, has the figures to prove it, “In the space of three years, the number of sheets printed at Ravensburger has risen from 37 million to 49 million.”

A highly automated printing system

Sheetfed offset printing is used in the competence center for print production at the Ravensburg site. A Speedmaster XL 106-5+L from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) – a five-color system with a coating unit – was taken into operation in summer 2021. Paper grades, formats, and ink sequence are largely standardized. An extended sheet format of 76 x 106 centimeters (standard configuration 75 x 106 centimeters) means the printable sheet area can be optimized when producing multiple-ups. 

With four or five job changes an hour at Ravensburger, the speed of makeready processes determines how cost-effective production is. The press shown here is the Speedmaster XL 106-5+L.

The Speedmaster XL 106 is a highly automated system from the 2020 generation with a Push to Stop configuration. Jobs that are added to the job queue are therefore completed automatically. The Intellistart 3 assistance software analyzes the jobs in the list and determines independently which makeready sequences to activate during a job change. The Speedmaster Operating System guides print engineers through the production process, indicating when manual intervention is required.

Plate to Gallery for faster printing plate logistics

Plate to Gallery is an automated plate logistics solution that lifts the printing plates to gallery level on the press. Thanks to AutoPlate Pro, it takes little more than two minutes to change an entire set of plates fully automatically in all five printing units. The Prinect Inpress Control fully automatic color measuring system adjusts the ink feed and register within around one hundred sheets, while the Quality Assistant system monitors all quality parameters. As soon as the target values are achieved, Intellistart 3 automatically switches to production speed.

The press stands on a foundation elevated by 525 millimeters to maximise net outputs. The delivery supports non-stop production, with an underfloor conveyor system automatically supplying the empty pallets as each pile is removed. InsertStar separates the individual jobs (by automatically inserting tapes).

Liebing considers process automation to be extremely important. “With four or five job changes an hour, the speed of makeready processes determines how cost-effective production is,” he explains.

Sheetfed offset press availability of 99.4%

Ravensburger carried out an extensive test run before investing in a sheetfed offset press from Heidelberg. The Speedmaster XL 106 in the Heidelberg demonstration center at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site proved how efficiently it could produce the customer’s print jobs using the same consumables as in Ravensburg. “The high demands we placed on the technology in terms of paper waste and net output were met in full,” confirms Liebing, who is particularly impressed by how reliably the press runs, even with relatively thin printing materials.

The outstanding results of the test run were borne out in practice. Six months on from commissioning, Liebing reports the technical availability of the press is 99.4%. “This printing system has well and truly won us over,” he says.

Automatic compensation of paper distortion

Besides cardboard, much of Ravensburger’s work also involves standard paper grades. Paper of this kind is prone to distortion during the printing process, leading to register inaccuracies from printing unit to printing unit. This can be counteracted using Prinect Automatic Paper Stretch Compensation. The level of distortion can be predicted for each specific paper grade, and the software compensates for this during plate imaging.

Prinect Automatic Paper Stretch Compensation is particularly effective when printing motif sheets with fine hairlines and also when a large number of repeats are spread across the sheet. “The software from Heidelberg contributes to quality standards and is a tool we no longer want to do without when it comes to meeting our high requirements,” insists Liebing.

Customer relationship based on trust and partnership

“Convincing a company like Ravensburger of the benefits of Speedmaster XL 106 technology once again demonstrates the competitiveness of our Push to Stop concept,” says Dr David Schmedding, managing director of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Vertrieb Deutschland GmbH. “Our long-standing customer relationship with Ravensburger is based on trust and partnership. The company knows it can always rely on the Heidelberg team and our expertise,” adds Mirco Klumpp, who is responsible for sales and customer service.

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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.

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