Customized Machines: (Almost) Nothing is Impossible
Roland Varga (left) and the Customizing Team
More and more customers are choosing customized models when
purchasing a printing press. Customization experts at Heidelberg
individually tailor them to fit printers' needs. And they come
up with quite a lot of ideas in the process of creating the best
Whether small extras or completely new configurations, the
reasons for purchasing customized machines are similar: "Our
customers want to distinguish themselves from the competition. They
achieve this by increasing their performance or creating products
and effects which stand out," says Roland Varga, Product
Manager Customizing 70 x 100. Almost every one in five 70 x 100
format presses supplied by Heidelberg now includes individual
customer adjustments. In other formats, the trend is towards
customized models as well. Customers either approach their
Heidelberg SSU with a configuration suggestion or they bring an
example of their applications and are advised by the customization
Speedmaster XL 105-LYY-9+LYYL. The machine’s configuration with three coating units before and after the printing units enables an almost limitless number of applications.
Simply different: Extras from the series
The modular design of the presses enables Heidelberg to
create a wide range of customer-specific configurations, using as
many components as possible from the series production models.
"That's not only economical, it also ensures our high level of
quality, for example on the Speedmaster XL 105 Duo," explains
Varga. The printing press combines flexographic and offset printing
units. This enables diverse effects to be achieved in one pass,
which otherwise would only be possible with expensive materials or
several passes. This means that a complete pass can be saved on the
coating unit before the printing units, for example. Configurations
which were originally developed as customer requests are now being
mass produced due to high demand. For example, the Speedmaster SM
102 long perfecting press also began its "career" as a
Speedmaster XL 105-6+L. The machine was set at its maximum height and equipped with the Heidelberg Logistics Systems for automatic material handling. This allows packaging specialists to achieve the highest levels of productivity.
The path to a customer-specific printing press
Regardless of whether there are minimal deviations from the
series model or completely new configurations, the customization
experts always look for the best possible solution. After an
initial customer consultation, the development and production
departments are contacted to ascertain whether the desired
configuration has been done before or whether the new development
is technologically possible and the desired applications feasible.
Based on cost-effectiveness and feasibility tests, the experts
determine the ideal configuration. Then the print shop receives an
offer. If the customer confirms the order, the customization team
produces the custom-tailored solution in close coordination with
The team includes specialists from product management,
production and development as well as from service. An installation
representative serves as a link between the customer and the
customization team and is always available to field questions from
the customer. They are also very familiar with the customer's
operations, and are able to determine if structural or technical
changes are needed to make the machine perform at its best. The
machine is tested extensively in the Wiesloch-Walldorf factory.
"Only when the unique machine completely meets the
customer's needs is it installed," says Varga.
Short Interview with Roland Varga
Mr. Varga, how can the customer be sure to receive theis own
indi-vidual ideal configu-ration?
Varga: The print shop's job portfolio always plays a
decisive role. We determine the cost-effectiveness and feasibility
of special confi-gurations in comprehensive analyses and thus
provide well-founded investment guidance. To do so, we use tried
and tested instruments such as the "BizModel." This
simulation software uses the customer's business and production
data to show how the different options affect productivity. In
addition, our installation employee makes sure that the
customer's conditions - such as the foundation's supporting
capacity or the power supply - match the customized machine.
How much more expensive is a custom-tailored machine or a new
development in relation to the compar-able series model?
Varga: That depends on how complex the change is. Small,
simple changes on a mass-produced machine are hardly of consequence
percent-wise. A new development, on the other hand, can be up to
ten percent more expensive than the series model.
Please tell us about some unusual custom-tailored solutions.
Varga: A Japanese print shop which printed transparent films
for light boxes applied two to three layers of opaque white. The UV
dryer's radiation was blocked by the opaque white so much that
the lower layers of ink couldn't harden completely and adhesion
problems arose. The customer therefore turned over the film and ran
it through the machine to dry again. We found a practical solution
for the customer: We built in an additional dryer from below in the
sheet travel guide. This meant the customer only needed one pass
and thus saved time and money.