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.

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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