Share print’s sustainability story

Koenig and Bauer boss: ‘be bullish’

Pleßke: "In our industry sustainability is not a contradiction to cost"

Koenig & Bauer CEO Dr Andreas Pleßke has urged the industry to “be bullish” about print and packaging’s strong sustainability story.

Speaking about industry mega trends at this week’s pre-Drupa Media Conference held at Messe Dússeldorf, Pleßke – who is also chair of the Drupa committee – said that printing was probably unique “because in our industry sustainability is not a contradiction to cost” unlike most other sectors where sustainable options are more expensive.

“If we make our equipment more sustainable, it means it produces less waste, uses less energy, less ink, less costs,” he stated.

“I think we should be very bullish – very pro – in promoting sustainability in our industry.”

His second major trend was digitalisation of workflows, again supporting efficiency and sustainability.

The third key topic was the issue of finding suitably skilled workers.

“Everywhere in the world skilled staff and the shortage of skilled staff is a problem. How do we upskill people, how do we train people? Not only in our factories but at the customers.”

He spoke about the strength of Germany’s long-established apprenticeship system, and whether other countries could benefit from a similar policy.

Koenig & Bauer CDO Ralf Sammeck described the group as “a completely different company” to the last Drupa in 2016, as the press manufacturer revealed some of the new products it planned to showcase at the exhibition.

“We want to show the industry what is the future of printing and packaging, and also give ideas to our customers what they can do to be extremely profitable and successful in the future.”

The PrintFusion workflow developed with partner Hybrid Software will be shown for the first time.

It aims to remove manual pre-press steps, cut press setup times and improve print quality through features such as spectral reference sheets.

The B1 sheetfed inkjet press the VariJet 106, developed through its joint venture with Durst, is expected to be a big draw at the booth.

Sammeck said that building it on a basis of proven technology from the two partners meant "we don't need 10 or even 20 years to get a product to market.”

The VariJet 106 was originally shown as a concept at Drupa 2016, at the time the inkjet partner was Xerox.

Two VariJet installations are already in production and a third will be shipped in a month.

That press is a hybrid configuration with seven colours plus additional flexo units.

"It's a machine for three shifts, 24/7,” Sammeck stated.

On the post-press side K&B is claiming "the fastest die-cutter in the world" with its CutPro X rotary device.

Also new is the CutPro Q flatbed, with both devices set to be shown for the first time.

Quizzed on K&B’s mega €10m investment in its Drupa presence, and how the ROI was calculated, Pleßke told Printweek: “It’s very simple, we have a certain amount of marketing which we spend per year. And that amount of marketing cost has to fit the size of the business.

“The question is how you spend it and we come to the conclusion that every four years we have a big Drupa, and in the meantime if it comes to [other] trade shows we are not the biggest exhibitor,” he explained.

Pleßke quipped: “If you ever find from someone how to calculate the ROI on marketing expenses, please let me know!”

K&B and HP are the two biggest exhibitors at the upcoming show.