Heidelberg outlines Drupa focus on automation and integration

Jo Francis
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Heidelberg’s Drupa exhibit will focus on customer demands caused by the industrialisation of printing, under the banner theme of ‘Simply Smart’.

“Our customers have changed from small craftsmen to industrial enterprises,” explained the group’s head of services Harald Weimer. “And these customers demand complete products and services from us. Customers are working to increase productivity either by reducing costs or improving throughput.

“We are providing simple solutions for a complex business. It’s time to concentrate on what matters,” he stated.

As an example, Weimer highlighted Heidelberg’s new Smart Monitoring service, currently in beta testing with a number of customers worldwide including a large packaging printer in the UK.

The aim is to avoid breakdowns by predicting a likely problem before it actually happens, and then rectify it during a planned service visit.

“We have data collected from 10,000 machines so far, and we can typically see there is a problem before something fails. For example if a platechanger is taking 0.25 seconds longer, we can then schedule a maintenance visit with the customer,” Weimer explained.

He also put the technology that lies behind the offering into context: “We started remote diagnostics in 2004, and it needs a lot of learning to achieve this – a six-colour XL106 has more than 160 control components and 3,000 different sensors, and we collect more than 31 million data strings per week, per machine.”

Heidelberg is also likely to save millions of euros on its Drupa exhibition spend through its new approach to the show. This combines its presence in Hall 1, where it will exhibit alongside partner companies including Steinemann, Masterwork Machinery, and Polar, with trips to its Wiesloch site where it has invested heavily in running a complete line-up of presses and post-press equipment for commercial and packaging printers. 

The site is about three hours from Dusseldorf by train.

“Compared to Drupa 2000 [Heidelberg’s biggest-ever Drupa presence], we will spend maybe 10% of that,” said Heidelberg head of equipment Stephan Plenz.

Plenz said the firm was making good progress with its B1 sheetfed inkjet press, which is likely to be a huge draw at the show.

“The machine is already there [in R&D] and we know what we are doing. It will be integrated with Prinect and have a full package of integration – we are not just playing around with technology,” he stated.

Plenz also commented on the inevitable comparisons between the Heidelberg and Landa approaches. “The big difference between what we are doing and Landa is that we do direct printing and he does indirect. We solve things differently, and I am absolutely convinced that in the end direct printing is superior because we don’t need the system in-between. It looks very promising.”

More details will be revealed in February 2016, when the as-yet-unnamed press will be shown printing.

As part of its roadmap to Drupa, Heidelberg announced a number of product developments this week.

Among the most significant was Prinect Portal, a cloud-based tool described as “creating transparency based on an integrated workflow” with rights and access controls for staff at the printer, and at their customers.

“This is a big step and I think it will change the way people work and use workflow,” Plenz said.

It will be available at Drupa.

Prinect Web Shop, based on the open source PrestaShop ecommerce software, is targeted at printers wanting to offer standard products and services online, and is available immediately.

In addition, Heidelberg is opening up its Prinect digital front-end, which allows a single workflow across its conventional presses and Linoprint digital presses, to other digital press manufacturers to allow users to incorporate third-party digital presses into their Prinect workflow.

It aims to solve the problem of “paper stretch” on offset presses, through a new software solution that corrects the imaging data for the printing plates prior to output.

Also new is an auto pallet loader for the Suprasetter platesetter, for unattended continuous operation.

“Quality is a given, we have to invest in the automation of processes. All the investments we made in JDF in the past are now paying off,” Plenz stated. “When you are going from 10 jobs a day to 10 jobs an hour, the importance of makeready goes through the roof.”

Weimer also said Heidelberg was likely to make further acquisition in the consumables space, which is an important growth area for the group. 


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