Bertelsmann Printing plant gets new Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106

Bertelsmann is expecting greater productivity and improved customer satisfaction

(from left front row) Devon Phillips, manager, BPG USA, and Tim Cotter, Continuous Improvement director, BPG USA, (middle row) Steve McGahan, director Manufacturing, BPG USA, and Marty Moran, vice-president Sales East Region, Heidelberg USA, (back row) Mike Progen, account manager, Heidelberg USA, and Tom Cummings, account manager, Heidelberg USA. Photo Heidelberg

Bertelsmann Printing Group (BPG) one of the publishing sector’s leading book printers recently purchased a new Speedmaster XL 106-6P+L from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) for its site in Hicksville. Equipped with the latest Speedmaster technology, this press is being supplied in conjunction with a Heidelberg Subscription Smart contract that includes wide-ranging performance and consulting services with the aim of boosting press productivity.

BPG USA’s new Speedmaster XL 106 is replacing several older presses at the Hicksville plant, which makes jackets and inserts for book production. “The keyword for us is optimization,” says Christof Ludwig, chief executive officer of BPG USA. “If you replace several presses with a single machine, you want to ensure the overall productivity and efficiency is much better,” he adds. Before purchasing the Speedmaster XL 106, BPG USA – part of Bertelsmann Printing headquartered in Germany – was guided by the company’s investments in Europe, which included installing several Speedmaster presses at various sites and successfully operating them in conjunction with a subscription smart contract. “When we saw the success of these presses in Europe, we formed an in-house project team to establish whether installing a similar machine in Hicksville would be beneficial for our products as a whole,” explains Ludwig.

Besides optimizing internal processes, the advanced technology and automation options of the new press are set to assist the company with its goal of improving the customer experience. “The Speedmaster XL 106 will contribute to the general level of customer satisfaction by helping us ensure punctual deliveries and high-quality products,” says Jorge Velasco, president, and chief operating officer of BPG USA. The press boasts autonomous Push to Stop technology, AutoPlate Pro, and a completely new operating philosophy – the Heidelberg user experience – which, together with the patented intellistart 3 and other assistance systems, ensures short makeready times and optimum support for press operators. This press is also manufactured on a climate-neutral basis. In other words, the CO2 emissions generated during the manufacturing process are offset by purchasing climate protection certificates (Gold Standard).

Even though the technology played a big part in BPG USA opting for the new Speedmaster XL 106, Ludwig and Velasco cite the subscription smart contract as the decisive factor that led to the decision to buy from Heidelberg. With subscription smart, BPG USA pays a fixed monthly rate for an agreed ‘pay-per-outcome’ print volume and has access to Heidelberg performance and consulting services. Prior to purchasing the Speedmaster XL 106, BPG USA set targets in consultation with Heidelberg regarding makeready times, speeds, and paper waste. “All the latest presses are equipped with advanced technology, but Heidelberg offers an all-in-one package that includes ongoing collaboration on long-term goals. Heidelberg is helping us find out how we can improve,” says Ludwig.

Following the installation of the new Speedmaster XL 106 in June this year, the Heidelberg experts will work with the BPG USA team to analyze the company’s KPIs, processes, and benchmark data so as to identify potential areas for improvement and ensure it always achieves maximum productivity in production. “When you buy a new printing system, you’re taking a calculated risk. The subscription smart contract is a kind of safety net because we know that Heidelberg will ensure our press consistently achieves its full potential so we can continue to run our business,” says Velasco.

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.

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