'We are future-proofing our capabilities for our customers'

WestRock turns to Heidelberg for two more mega-presses

Long press configurations are a growing trend for packaging customers
Long press configurations are a growing trend for packaging customers

WestRock has installed two huge Heidelberg Speedmaster presses – including the world’s biggest long perfector yet with a whopping 20 units – at its European platform.

Heidelberg described the Speedmasters as the longest sheetfed presses it had ever built.

Prior to the latest investment, WestRock already held that record with an 18 unit model that was installed at its East Kilbride facility in Scotland six years ago.

The 20 unit XL 106 has been installed at WestRock’s Tczew plant in Poland. Precise details of the bespoke configuration have not been revealed, but the 42 metre long press features a combination of printing, drying and coating units for the production of high-end cartons featuring special finishes and metallics.

The press is installed and up and running, while the 19 unit model was installed at WestRock’s Obersulm plant in Germany earlier this year.

Alongside the precision engineering involved, Heidelberg pointed out that the ability for operators to keep all the processes involved under control via Prinect Press Center was also a critical aspect of running such huge presses.

Speaking about the mammoth investment, WestRock EMEA and APAC business leader Mark Shaw said that innovation and sustainability were the bedrock of WestRock’s operations.

“By investing in print technology from Heidelberg we are future-proofing our capabilities for our customers,” he stated.

“There is no better demonstration of this than the two longest presses in the world being developed specifically for WestRock facilities. As brands continue to drive demand for sustainable, fibre-based packaging, through our continued investment and industry-leading expertise, we are well positioned to meet these needs.”

US-headquartered WestRock has more than 300 production sites around the world. Last month the packaging giant agreed a mega-merger with Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa that will create the world’s largest listed packaging company with sales of around $34bn (£27.3bn).

Heidelberg lays claim to a market-leading position in packaging encompassing its labels, sheetfed litho, and new Boardmaster high-volume web-fed flexo press.

Time lapse video of the installation in Poland

CEO Dr Ludwin Monz said the manufacturer’s strategy of focusing on customers’ requirements for automation and flexibility was “increasingly paying dividends” in a growing market.

“Around half the sheetfed offset presses Heidelberg sells and installs go to packaging customers.

“Heidelberg is now the market leader in packaging printing, with Speedmaster XL technology playing a key role,” he said.

Christian Steinmassl, head of Heidelberg’s Packaging segment, said that customised, long press configurations were a growing trend in label printing and folding cartons, with the WestRock investment a “really outstanding” example.

“Projects such as the one for WestRock involve particularly high mechanical engineering demands and close consultation with the customer.

“We combine two things – first-class printing press construction and user-friendly operation,” he noted.

“No matter what type of printing technology the customer prefers, everybody is doing a total cost of ownership calculation for such types of investment and then the customer decides based on the TCO what is the best option.”

Steinmassl also reported considerable success with the new flagship die-cutter from partner Masterwork, with the 9,000sph Mastermatrix “really able to catch up and convert what’s coming from the high-speed presses.”