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Digital transformation increasing overall productivity


  • Heidelberg Commercial Day in Wiesloch-Walldorf demonstrates entry-level solutions up to subscription contract
  • Lifecycle solutions consisting of service, consumables, and advice go hand in hand

It’s a story familiar to almost every commercial printing company: an order is not completed on time because some process or other is held up, important data is not available, or the material at the machine is wrong. So what is needed to achieve the greatest possible overall productivity? The Commercial Day 2019, which took place at the end of May at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg), examined this topic in detail in a well-attended event.

“We find ourselves in a transition from an analog Economy of Products to a digital Economy of Things,” explained Professor Dr. Ulrich Hermann, Member of the Management Board responsible for Lifecycle Solutions and Chief Digital Officer at Heidelberg. “In the 90s, people went online. Today, things are going online. Soon, the things on the Internet will shape value creation increasingly autonomously, and significantly change the physical world as we know it today. This will also bring new opportunities for the printing industry, especially for increasing productivity in the production process. The “digital twin” of printing presses connected via the Internet takes on completely new tasks, further minimizing effort that creates no value, i.e. administrative and unused capacities. Whereas manufacturers in the analog economy focused on selling products, it will be their use that moves to the center of business models in the age of the digital Economy of Things. “It’s about ownership versus usership,” continues Hermann.

Integrated approach with lifecycle solutions

So how do you seize the opportunities afforded by digitalization? In order to optimize the overall system, everything needs to mesh: hardware (machines), software (data), processes, and consumables. Data, service and advice are important here. Heidelberg’s experts presented various lifecycle packages in a discussion panel. For example, a full service contract constitutes a strong partnership between Heidelberg and its customers. High utilization performance is achieved with remote service and a worldwide spare parts supply. Scheduled service is better than unscheduled service, since the latter is a predictable cost. Saphira consumables that are tested and optimally coordinated to the machines ensure substantial cost savings and are kind to the environment. Heidelberg puts its extensive expertise to use in the advice it provides. A comprehensive analysis of the customer determines the current status. Suggestions for improvements are then made on this basis. All in all, net productivity can be increased by 10 to 40 percent, i.e. that many more sheets can be produced.

Tailored solutions for every customer need

Heidelberg showed how to increase overall equipment efficiency and thus overall productivity with workshops on its Prinect print shop workflow and with demonstrations of the Smart Print Shop with Push to Stop and navigated as well as autonomous printing, where all processes are integrated – from prepress to press to postpress. There was also an anniversary to celebrate – 70 years of the Stahlfolder and thus 70 years of expertise in folding (see also the press release dated 24 May 2019). The Stahlfolder machines are also integrated in the workflow and support the Push to Stop concept.

Heidelberg’s experts expect the industry visitors’ productivity to double from 2019 to 2029. This does not mean that all print shops will be printing 90 million sheets on a machine per year, which is what the forerunners are already achieving today. But even print shops producing only five million sheets today will make significantly better use of their available capacity in order to stay competitive. In order to cope with this increase, the Commercial Day showcased different tiered solutions ranging all the way up to the subscription contract. “We want to support our customers in seizing the opportunities for their print shop associated with the significant digital changes ahead, and in making the change process profitable for them”, is the conclusion drawn by Professor Hermann.


Hilde Weisser
Public Relations Officer, Trade Press Tel.: +49 (0)6221 92 50 66
Fax.: +49 (0)6221 92 99 50 66

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