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Apr 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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“Welcome to the future,” said Bernhard Schreier, Heidelberg CEO, greeting journalists at the vendor's new packaging showroom in Wiesloch, Germany.

The future Schreier outlined holds the prospect of strong growth in the packaging sector and developing nations in general, tempered by the reality of a sputtering U.S. economy and mature press markets in industrialized countries.

Heidelberg's response includes a comprehensive approach for helping printers boost overall productivity from the pressroom to the executive boardroom. By 2011, consulting services are projected to be at least 25 percent of Heidelberg's revenue. The vendor also will grow its SystemService and spare parts businesses as well as its line of inks, plates and other consumables.

Heidelberg wants to achieve 25 percent market share in the 56- and 64-inch press markets. The vendor's research indicates that there are currently 3,000 presses in these presses installed worldwide, with about 1,000 new printing units installed annually, a number expected to grow to 1,700 by 2011.

Fifty percent of Heidelberg's Drupa space is dedicated to packaging, with the new XL 145 (41.73 × 57.09 inches) and XL 162 (47.24 × 63.78 inches) taking center stage. The two new presses are offered in several configurations and can handle substrates from 0.0024 to 0.063 inch.

New packaging-related prepress and postpress equipment includes: Prinect packaging workflow; VLF platesetters; and the Dymatrix 145 diecutter, Polar 155-176 and 185 cutters, Diana 145/165 folder/gluer and TD 142 folder. (See next month's Drupa postpress preview for additional details.)

By the numbers

An XL 105 perfector will debut as will the 29-inch Speedmaster XL 75 in straight and perfector modes. Custom configurations for the XL 75 can include double coating units, Foilstar cold foil application and Duo presses with flexo and offset units.

Heidelberg will continue to offer the Printmaster GTO 52 and Printmaster QM 46. The new 20- and 29-inch Speedmaster series will merge the product range currently covered by the PM 52 and PM 74 into the Speedmaster brand.

All Speedmaster presses will feature the Princect Press Center, a single console which combines press operation with color and register. An “Intellistart” function serves as a makeready “wizard,” suggesting the appropriate press settings. A sheet-size flat-panel display is fully integrated into press operations and even can be used for soft proofing.


Essential productivity

Heidelberg CEO Bernhard Schreier is encouraged by the recently announced U.S. economic stimulus package. “It will certainly have some impact on our customers' decision making process and investment behavior,” he says. “It put me in a more optimistic mood than in the preceding weeks.”

Buoyed by the XL 105 and other new products, Heidelberg enjoyed strong U.S. sales from 2004 to 2006. Q3 2007 sales were down 30 percent vs. the same period in 2006, a situation exacerbated by an unfavorable exchange rate.

On the positive side, sales are booming in Eastern Europe and Asia, particularly in China. The XL 105 is a hit in Germany. According to Schreier, once the first five or so presses were installed, competitors were impressed by the operational efficiencies and were quick to add their own XL 105s. The productivity gains are helping printers win back work from Eastern Europe and have given the German market a fresh boost of self confidence.

Schreier says “huge productivity” increases are essential for printers in central Europe, North America, Australia and Japan to compete against developing nations' cheap labor. “Those who don't invest will have trouble surviving.”

Katherine O'Brien is editor in chief of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at