Men with Warm Hearts and Strong Nerves
Franz Haaf (third from the right) briefing his team of technicians.
Every four years, Rainer Thielmann and Franz Haaf are given the
signal and then it's time. The two "Heidelbergers" and their teams
launch an exciting mission: organizing everything needed for a
perfect trade fair appearance and for dazzling visitors to drupa.
This is not exactly a small task, as a look behind the scenes
Mr. Thielmann, Mr. Haaf, the two of you are responsible for all
of the logistics and the technical side of things - from setting up
the printing presses, to adjusting air humidity. You even procure
the cocktail straws. What was the biggest challenge this year?
Haaf: Setting up the Speedmaster XL 162-6+L in Hall 2. The
transportation from Wiesloch to Düsseldorf with heavy-goods
trucks needing authorization reminded us of delivering the
Mainstream in 2000. We also had to prepare the floor for such
weight - one single printing unit weighs 24 tons and workers
needed two cranes to position its 30 tons.
This year Heidelberg is once again building the world's largest
temporary print shop with more than 50 printing presses on a floor
space of 83,959 square feet (7,800 square meters). How is that
Thielmann: It is only possible with the help of a great
team. It's not just a matter of setting up the exhibits themselves,
such as the printing presses or platesetters, for example. Almost
all of the machines are networked. On top of that are things like
supplying electricity and air, cooling, catering, or getting the
Heidelberg team together.
Haaf: Our expectations of quality - both in terms of
functionality and presentation - are extremely high. I had a
few sleepless nights at the end of April, particularly because of
the short set-up time. This year we've laid 62 miles (100
kilometers) of electric and network cables as well as 2.2 miles
(3.5 kilometers) of high pressure hoses, for example. Beginning May
5th, we're now on-site working around the clock in shifts to
install over 50 exhibits - that's nearing the limit. I'm still
not particularly relaxed, but a healthy dose of nervousness is good
How many service employees are at work on the project?
Haaf: There are currently about 100 technicians from all
of the German Heidelberg locations working at the trade fair
grounds. Colleagues from markets further away are also supporting
us. We've carted out a total of roughly 4,000 tons of material on
more than 150 trucks. This is done in "portions" of two to twelve
tons with the help of forklifts in the halls. If the items are
heavier, then we drive the heavy goods trucks directly into the
halls and use cranes to unload everything.
This year, Rainer Thielmann (front row, second from the right) is organizing Heidelberg’s appearance at drupa for the third time. Some members of the team have taken part at drupa even more often than that.
With such a huge project, there are certainly things that go
wrong from time to time.
Thielmann: Smaller accidents always happen. But thanks to
our fantastic team, we are able to easily iron them out so that
those on the "outside" don't even notice.
Haaf: The only real danger would be if someone offered us
rice pudding with cinnamon and sugar in the catering tent -
then we would forget everything else.
What do you think will be the hot-ticket item with customers
Thielmann: Heidelberg always demands perfection right
down to the smallest details at each drupa. That doesn't just
include all the exhibits, but also the surroundings. This year, the
Speedmaster XL 162 will certainly be a real crowd-puller. At the
same time, we want to produce a "wow" effect with our customers by
offering something really special - a surprise. I can only say
this much - it has to do with a print job on this press.
What is your own personal highlight?
Thielmann: That's on May 28th, the night before drupa
opens - when everything is finished, still untouched and
perfect. That's the moment when I take a deep breath and am proud
to be able to offer our Heidelberg guests something so special.
Haaf: You have to imagine - everyone involved has given
their best for weeks. And now, when the hall is completely set up
and all the finishing touches are on, the creative stand design can
really be seen for the first time. In the middle of this amazing
environment, our exhibits shine in the spotlights. Then we glance
over the area one more time and enjoy the moment before it's time
to slowly turn off the lights before opening day begins.
And what are you offering visitors who need a break and want to
Thielmann: The Sternberg Lounge, a space outside of the
trade fair, provides a contrast to the hustle and bustle -
both in its appearance and atmosphere. There, customers can relax
and take a step back from it all - either with a small snack
or at a gala event in the evening. We also have a unique bar where
you can mix your own individual cocktails from a choice of fruit
juices. This idea was modeled after our system
service - where each customer can put together his or
her own personal package.
What is your personal tip for visitors to drupa?
Haaf: Go on a drupa technology tour in Halls 1 and 2.
Thielmann: If you've had enough of strolling down the
shopping mile Kö or walking through the old city, you should
visit Kaiserwerth. With its village feeling and cozy cafes, the
tranquil district in the northern part of Düsseldorf is ideal
drupa in Numbers
• 300 tons of material for the stand, including wood,
steel, mounting parts, ink
• 750 kilowatts of power for cooling the exhibits
• 62 miles (100 kilometers) of cables for electricity
and data lines
• 656,168 feet (200 meters) of piping for cooling water
for the exhibits
• 984,252 feet (300 meters) of compressed air lines for
• 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of high pressure hoses for
• 2,500 spotlights
• 7,386 pounds (3,350 kilos) of savory snacks
• 6,063 pounds of (2,750 kilos) biscuits for coffee and
• 9,246 gallons (35,000 liters) of mineral water
• 150,000 cups of coffee
• 151,000 servings of milk
• 270,000 sugar lumps