The order book for Heidelberg’s Primefire 106 is full for the next two years, as the first beta machine goes into production.
Delivering the announcement upon publication of its 2017/18 Q1 results, a spokesperson for Heidelberg did not disclose how many orders the firm had received for the Drupa launched B1 sheetfed inkjet press, which was jointly developed with Fujifilm, but said that a number of machines would be in production by the end of the 2018/19 fiscal year.
Global packaging giant Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS) was the first to take the machine in beta at its Obersulm, Germany site and a second beta site, Colordruck Baiersbronn, will begin running the machine later in the calendar year.
The spokesperson said: “We are now in the ramp-up phase with production slots that we have available for the 2018 calendar year already sold out. We have orders all over the world, from US to China.
“For us it’s important that we are fully in time and we deliver what we have promised. We are well on time.”
In its results for the quarter to 30 June 2017, Heidelberg posted a 2% sales increase on the same period last year, from €486m (£438m) to €495m, largely thanks to a 20% order entry increase from China, along with improved investment from the Western European market.
EBITDA excluding restructuring costs rose from €1m to €14m, and net losses before tax were reduced from €35m last year to €15m.
“We saved money and didn’t have the Drupa costs we had last year and this was right on plan,” the spokesperson added.
Heidelberg’s incoming order value fell significantly on Q1 2016’s figure, from €804m to €629m (22%), but this was in the main put down to last year’s period incorporating Drupa. Its order backlog rose 20% after it posted its best Q4 results last quarter for four years. Net debt fell 11% to €234m, while free cashflow dropped from €6m to -€13m as a result of company and real estate acquisitions and payments.
Heidelberg has so far this year acquired German software developer Docufy and Fujifilm’s EMEA pressroom chemical plant, both of which were completed by July and are now going through an integration period.
From 1 April 2017, newly appointed Heidelberg chief executive Rainer Hundsdörfer initiated a reorganisation of the business, introducing Heidelberg Digital Technology (HDT) and Heidelberg Digital Business and Services (HDB).
Sales for HDT, which incorporates sheetfed, post-press and label printing operations, rose from €213m to €235m, while HDB, which incorporates consumables, services, digital print, digital solutions and remarketed equipment, experienced a fall from €271m to €259m.
The spokesperson also elaborated on the €50m of structural-related costs the group is aiming to save by 2022, in a bid to reach its €3bn five-year sales target. This will include in the early stages a €4m to €6m R&D saving from the new Wiesloch-Walldorf R&D site, plus a simplification of subsidiary Gallus' production platforms from four to one. Staff numbers fell on last year’s Q1 figure, from 11,523 to 11,445.
The group is also looking to deviate from its current business model to "lifecycle contracts", incorporating a performance-based business model related to print production volumes, with an impression charge model similar to click charges.
The spokesperson added: “Today the strategy is to move from an e-shop, with 80,000 orders a year, to an e-commerce platform, where you can get more or less everything: competition offerings, value chain equipment, consumables and service.
“We do not sell you separate products, we sell you whole performance for your print shop and therefore deliver you with everything you need.”