Digitalization: "What added value
can I expect from Heidelberg?"

Big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), networking, and business analytics are far more than just buzzwords when it comes to digitizing the printing industry. After all, they ultimately stand for an end-to-end strategic realignment of print production with the aim of increasing productivity to generate profits more quickly. And this strategy gets results. Print shops that systematically and consistently digitize their processes are achieving measurable successes – not only in terms of operational KPIs, but also in terms of customer and employee satisfaction.

Standardizing and automating processes

Digitalization in the printing industry essentially means exploiting existing potential in the process chain, seizing new business opportunities and using business data to achieve more transparency and continuous self-optimization. This is exactly where Heidelberg comes in with the Smart Print Shop and its “ecosystem for the printing industry”.

Shorter delivery times and shorter runs have been a key and challenging issue in all areas of our industry for years. For a long time, the single most important lever for tackling these challenges has been the continued technical development of all the machines required for production. However, it has been surprising to see that only very few print shops are even capable of utilizing the speeds that can be achieved on modern machines. It’s not the machines that are the bottlenecks, but rather the manual processes and touchpoints.

To achieve maximum productivity, additional solutions are required that are as flexible and adaptable as our customers and their orders require. That is why our products and machines are able to standardize and automate production and administrative processes. This makes all processes repeatable, comparable, and assessable, which means they generate profit more quickly.

More automation, fewer touchpoints

Intellistart 3 and Intellirun in the 2020 generation of the Speedmaster are striking examples of the opportunities that machine digitalization currently has to offer. Based on the order data, the machine software calculates a sensible and thus cost-effective sequence for the print jobs to be processed. At the same time, intelligent machine assistants, such as Wash or Powder Assist, know what is necessary to prepare the next job and independently adapt their settings accordingly. The machine automatically processes the job sequence. This minimizes the need for changeovers and manual intervention from operators. The result is a Push to Stop concept that maximizes automation and minimizes manual touchpoints.

Prinect – the digital umbrella

Thanks to components such as Prinect Business Manager and Prinect Production Manager, our Prinect workflow acts as an umbrella covering the entire production process. All relevant data is transmitted directly to prepress, plate production, printing presses, and postpress machines – regardless of the printing process in use. Production can be carried out with either offset presses or digital printing systems as required.

Self-optimization through networking

This increase in efficiency is continued throughout the entire print production environment, meaning it goes far beyond just networking within the print shop. Machine services, employee training, and regular benchmarking with other printing companies are also integral parts of the digitalization efforts being pursued by and with Heidelberg.

This is where the Heidelberg Assistant comes in, providing a digital interface between Heidelberg and its customers. These customers use the Heidelberg Cloud as a database for real-time information and comprehensive analyses, with over 13,000 installed machines and 25,000 Prinect software modules continuously providing valuable status and performance data.

The Heidelberg Assistant then conducts a performance comparison based on this anonymized data – comparing the jobs produced on the machines in the relevant print shop rather than the performance they achieve. This enables our customers to compare themselves directly with their relevant competitors, identify productivity gaps, discover hidden potential, and adapt and optimize their business model accordingly.

In the future, we will offer performance advisor technology (PAT), which will use artificial intelligence to suggest specific ways that operations can be optimized and thus provide an additional aid for identifying gaps in productivity.

More about the Heidelberg Assistant

Data-based contract business

Print Site Contracts or “subscription models” represent the next step in rolling out the Smart Print Shop. This involves bundling consumables, services, software, performance consulting, training, and equipment solutions to form customizable packages.

All packages aim to maximize overall equipment efficiency (OEE) for customers and are either subject to monthly fees or charged according to actual output. Sound data analyses are used to provide a more holistic view of the company’s processes and performance, and identify new solutions. Processes are continuously optimized, particularly when it comes to our subscription portfolio, which helps speed up the digital transformation.

You can find more details about our Print Site Contracts here:

Print Site Contracts

No digital portfolio would be complete without a corresponding eShop:


We’re also happy to provide an insight into the current economic state of the global printing industry based on the anonymized database of the Heidelberg Cloud:

Print Media Industry Climate Report

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