Main Stories

Two companies, one common goal

– Heidelberg and Masterwork Machinery
As a result of its strategic partnership agreement with Chinese manufacturer Masterwork Machinery Co Ltd (MK), Heidelberg has ambitious plans to extend its range of post press equipment for the folding carton market. Partnerships are the key according to management board member, Harald Weimer, referring to how even a manufacturer the size of Heidelberg needs to form strategic alliances with specialist manufacturers to ensure success. From the supply side, he believes that no one company can have the expertise to meet all the expectations of a global market in which customers look increasingly for a single-source provider.

Responding to comments that Heidelberg might be diluting its brand image and reputation by allying with an Asian manufacturer, he stated robustly, “Anyone who has visited the MK plant cannot fail to be impressed by the quality of its research, design and manufacturing facilities. We set a high benchmark for quality here at Heidelberg, but we had no qualms about working with MK, because we detected a similar working philosophy.”

Need for alliance…

Inspector MK550Q mini displayed recently at PPI, BangkokThe need for such an alliance was justified by Kilian Renschler, head of global account management at Heidelberg, who gave an overview of the global packaging market to an audience of invited converters at Heidelberg’s Print Media Center Packaging in Wiesloch-Walldorf. Separating the emerging from the developed packaging markets, he commented that while population drives the former, it is differentiation that is responsible for growth in the developed world.

He told the audience, “In a global packaging market valued at 619 billion in 2013, almost one third is paper based products such as labels, folding cartons and corrugated. The prediction is that by 2018 the total market will have grown to 757 billion, but with major changes in regional consumption. Where currently Asia Pacific consumes 35 percent of the total, Europe 31 percent and North America 22 percent, the estimates for 2018 show Asia Pacific well ahead of both Europe and North America, with the biggest country growth coming from India, China, and Indonesia.” To respond to these changes and support the global packaging industry will require a high degree of cooperation amongst technology suppliers, and Heidelberg intends to be at the forefront of this process.

Harald WeimerAs the emerging markets become more industrialised, so the need for reliable business partners increases. “MK is the largest manufacturer of die cutters in China with a 90 percent share in the tobacco market, and 50 percent of the overall Chinese packaging market. But, it has only a limited export business because it lacks a network of sales, service and parts support – and this is where Heidelberg can step in and bring its expertise and the professionalism that customers demand from a supplier these days,” commented Weimer. Another attraction of working with MK is its commitment to R&D that has created a wide range of carton finishing equipment. He said that while for many years the post press department had been a production bottleneck through lack of investment, converters are now seeing the benefit of matching state-of-the-art finishing to all that has gone before. “Post press is when the sheet is at its most expensive – spoiling it at this stage is very expensive,” he added.

Automation in finishing: need of the hour

Dr Frank Schaum, head of post press at Heidelberg, told, “Because the finished product is key, the whole process is vital and in post press this involves a greater involvement of labour than elsewhere in production. With run lengths shortening worldwide there is a real need not only to strip out cost, as wages are rising everywhere, but crucially to simplify and shorten make-ready – and increased automation offers the solution as well as providing better quality control.

Lean manufacturing…

Responding to the demands of ‘lean manufacturing’ is uppermost in the minds of most suppliers, and Heidelberg is no exception. “It is important to attack it from the right direction,” explained Weimer. “It’s all about understanding production and the importance of accurate data – you need the knowledge before you invest, otherwise you risk wasting money.” Having the right technology and responding to changing market conditions are critical, but they need to be supported by a service organisation that can cope with 24/7 production. What begins with professional consultancy by the sales team, relies on the performance of the after sales team to maximise output from the customer’s technology. In many cases, significant improvements in productivity can be achieved with contract servicing and improved parts support. This is especially the case in post press where the main variable cost is labour. As run lengths shorten and expectations grow higher, the pressure for more automation is at its highest because margins are so tight. It is this need to constantly manage the portfolio of technology and respond to market changes that Heidelberg sees as key to its future growth in the packaging post press sector. The partnership with MK forms the platform on which it can build its business globally, but it is keen to point out that while its new MK Promatrix and MK Easymatrix die cutters will become its volume sellers in the carton market, the existing 100 or so users of the Dymatrix and Varimatrix ranges will continue to receive full support.

“What the new MK die cutters will do is allow us to tap into the volume market as well, where high levels of sophistication and performance are not as important as reliable day-to-day production at a price level that more can afford,” explained Weimer.

Why Masterworks?

If Heidelberg believes partnerships are more important than ever, what was it about MK that was impressive? Dr Schaum, who has an engineering background explained, “We visited several Asian manufacturers but were in no doubt that MK was the standout company. They have more than 80 technicians working in R&D alone.

Sales and after sales support…

It is the sales and after sales support that Heidelberg’s global network can bring to these products that clearly excites both parties, as Wells Fu, International Trade Department manager for MK, and Heidelberg’s liaison man with the Chinese factory explained, “We are delighted to be working with the market leader. Heidelberg offers MK the opportunity to grow our business in the global market in a way that we could never have achieved alone.

The Heidelberg assurance…

Despite most of the MK machines being CE compliant, Heidelberg is running its own thorough checks on the design and build quality of each range to ensure customers that reliability will be up to the customary standard before they are shipped. Field trials are complete on the MK Promatrix line, and the MK Easymatrix is anticipated to hit the market later in 2015. Both will be offered initially in B1 sheet format.

“The two machine ranges are pitched at the volume sector of the market and are definitely priced to sell,” said Weimer. “All of our people who have visited the Chinese factory have returned with high expectations for the MK equipment that we can offer because of the build quality and that all important price and performance ratio.”

The MK Easymatrix, will appeal to the developing markets, and be an entry-level machine for carton converters, as well as a crossover option for commercial printers in the established regions. The MK Promatrix, which has a top speed of 8000 sheets/hour, is predicted to sell well in the developed and industrialised countries.

On the folder gluer side, Heidelberg has taken the decision to rebrand all models as MK Diana. All are manufactured at Nové Mesto in Slovakia, including two new models, the MK Diana Smart 55 and MK Diana Smart 80. Both feature a compact design that gives a space saving footprint and have a maximum running speed of 450 m/min. Capable of handling cartons up to 600 mm in length on 200 - 600 gsm solid board (or Eflute corrugated), the new machines produce straightline, crashlock, double wall, multi compartment, miniature cartons and mailing sleeves. Both can be fitted with inspection control, a Braille module, a stack turner, feeder, and semi or fully automatic packers.

What next?

Asked if Heidelberg has plans to extend its product portfolio in post press, Dr Schaum explained that the intention is to focus on the extensive MK range already available. “Within that portfolio, we will look at offline inspection, hot foil stamping, and blanking, but for now we will focus on the introduction of the MK Easymatrix and MK Promatrix technology to the wider market, which will in itself extend the Heidelberg offering.”

On a concluding note…

Harald Weimer says, “We see this partnership with MK as an entirely positive move for Heidelberg as a manufacturing supplier and for the global carton converting market. Their technology is first class, and our sales and support network is second to none. I see it as a ‘win-win-win’ situation–Heidelberg benefits from having new technology to sell, MK from having foreign markets to develop, and the converters by having an exciting range of competitive machines to improve their businesses.”

First installations in Europe

- In just six months, over ten machines have been shipped to customers, primarily in Europe, reflecting the Heidelberg and Masterworks partnership’s success.

The MK Promatrix 106 CS was the focal point of the last Packaging Days event at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site in the spring of this year. The die cutter is aimed at packaging printers in emerging economies and industrialised markets.More than ten Promatrix 106 CS and Easymatrix 106 CS die cutters have already been sold. Both die cutters offer an excellent price-performance ratio and are aimed at customers with small and medium production volumes. The first purchaser of the Promatrix 106 CS was a Polish print shop Arka-Druk. “The Promatrix has proven its worth in our production operations. We’re so satisfied; we purchased a MK 1060 ST hotfoiling machine which has just been installed by a team from MK and Heidelberg. As a result, we can now offer high-finish packaging,” explains owner Artur Bach.

The Easymatrix 106 CS die cutter is an entry-level machine for packaging and commercial printers looking to keep the entire value-added chain in-house.In the UK, the first Promatrix 106 CS was shipped at the end of July to Zenith Print & Packaging, a print shop in Treforest, north of Cardiff, where it will replace two older die cutters. “We expect the new die cutter to deliver much shorter makeready times and greater productivity,” explains managing director Ken Bell. The company is also looking to harness the enhanced quality to increase its competitiveness. Zenith is renowned for high-quality packaging for coin collectors and packaging for the gift, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.

The new MK Diana Smart folding carton gluing machine was also unveiled at the Packaging Days. It is ideal for short to medium runs.Heidelberg Poland has sold not just one but two Easymatrix 106 CS die cutters that will be installed shortly. Piotr Krzych, president of Szczecin-based print shop COMgraph expects top quality and durability from the new die cutter. Half of production by the just under 100 employees is for commercial jobs for the domestic market, while the other half is made up of packaging for export.

Economic aspects were the main factor in the investment decision by Drukarnia WL Leszek Wojtczuk. “This is our second die cutter from an Asian manufacturer. We’ve been using the first one for nine years and hope the Easymatrix will be even better,” says owner Leszek Wojtczuk. His company’s workforce of more than 65 employees mainly produce cosmetic and food packaging, with 85 percent going to customers in Poland and the remainder being exported.

Manroland web systems comes up with solution to save printed books

At the recent 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum, manroland web systems talked of its digital finishing solution being developed to save printed books in future. The select audience attending the forum consisted of those having stakes in the development of digital book production – from reputed global publishers, self-publishers, printing companies and suppliers to the printing and publishing industries. Organised by Interquest, a market research firm specialised in the global printing industry, the 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum presented the results of market analysis from previous years that show how the market opinion changes. In this, manroland web systems joined the discussion, leveraging on making printed book fit for the future. The company showed how to provide the most efficient and cost-effective technology in the book printing segment. As manroland web systems emerged as a top supplier of technologies in digital book production over the last few years, the company added its knowledge to the discussions that revolved around the main topic: ‘How to make the printed book more attractive to the customers in times of e-readers and tablets?’

Printed books on rise

The result of the market research at the 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum showed that the rate of book production in the UK is currently 13 percent of the total, which is an increase of 8 percent against the data in 2012. According to Interquest, the market perception is that the rate will rise to 18–20 percent by 2018. In a similar wave, the current book production in the US has even increased by 4.6 percent and bookshops have seen a recovery. Contrarily, the sales of tablets and e-readers have slowed or stagnated. A good number of digital book printers have emerged over the last few years, which is indeed a drift driven by the immense progression in digital book printing technologies, productivity and quality.

FormerLine advantages

Specially designed to meet the requirements and intended book production on an industrial scale, manroland web systems’ FormerLine is featured with continuously flexible cut-off technology capable to handle from 145 mm to 420 mm. Together with the lift collator RS 34 from RIMA, the system produces stapled signatures or up to 8,000 glued and stapled book blocks per hour with up to 70 mm magnitude in a highly efficient way and with great performance.

According to the required format and pagination of the signature, the customer can choose the relevant web lead over the formers. The strongest point of the FormerLine concept is to produce different formats and paper qualities in so called ‘batches’ which can consist of different books with different page numbers. Even each individual book can have a different pagination.

In keeping with the preferences of the market, FormerLine is fast, flexible and productive. The FormerLine runs with a web speed of up to 300 m/min. The combination of a variable cut-off, a maximum web width of 1,067 mm (model with three formers) and a production speed of up to 300 m/min shows one of the best performing digital printing systems for book production in the current market. The high efficiency of the press is explained by its minimal makeready times, format changes, reel changes and industrial maintenance concepts, among other added features.

More success

New technology like FormerLine means more success as this machine helps printers to constantly meet the market requirements. The discussion at 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum showed that there are several parameters that drive the industry today. Despite the slowdown in the growth of e-books, book printers care about supply chain management—publishers want printers to be able to produce a ‘book of one’ print on demand (POD) or any number of books in a timely and cost-effective manner as an individual edition or in batched production using highly automated web-based job entries. These in forms of case studies were nicely presented by a number of European printers, presenting workflow and printing systems to the audience, during the forum. Publishers and printers try more and more to avoid holding stock and are moving to ‘auto stock replenishment’ business models reducing inventory and cost of stock handling. The batch-production of FormerLine exactly fulfils these requirements of the industrial digital production.

As there is also growing need for adding values to printed books, digital printing brings a gamut of additional enhancers, such as personalisation, augmented reality, RFID chip insertion, inclusion of electronics within books, etc. Wider prospects

All in all, the mood at 2015 London Digital Book Printing Forum was very positive about the future of printed books. Well, the e-book has found a place in the market, but is not going to replace the physical books anytime soon. The challenges for book printers are to be able to supply a single book or several thousand books very quickly and to be able to distribute efficiently to end users or readers. Publishers and authors are in pursuit of multi-media, multi-channel solutions with no inventory and efficient supply chain from a single book upwards. That is where manroland web systems can help by supplying and constantly developing best possible solution for the digital book printing.

RB Kashyap, unit head, Thomson Press

Born in Punjab in 1960, and a graduate from Institute of Printing Technology, JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, RB Kashyap has 31 years of experience in the printing industry. He started his career in 1984 with Comart, Mumbai, which was a leading pre-press unit at that time. “Pre-press was very popular at that time. There were only 2-3 drum scanners in the country and Comart was one of them having that.

The company was doing ad campaigns for well-known brands like Raymond, Vimal Sarees, Shyam Ahuja, etc and we were scanning 100-200 sets of campaigns every day. It was an analogue scanner and all corrections were done manually, which was a difficult task. There was no room for mistake. But, gradually I learned the tricks of the trade,” shares Kashyap. In 1987, Kashyap moved to Thomson Press, Delhi. “I stayed here for seven days and was on trial on scanner. My work was appreciated and I joined as the head of scanning department. I spent two years in scanning and systems. Gradually, I started taking care of planning, camera and layout sections as well.

Soon, I was heading the entire pre-press unit, with a staff of 200 people,” says Kashyap He was also instrumental in setting up an independent pre-press unit in Okhla, New Delhi. Today, Kashyap is the unit head of Thomson Press, Faridabad, taking care of the entire printing operations. Kashyap’s strengths include colours, pre-press, press and binding, in which he has thorough knowledge. “I can detect a problem by merely looking at the printed piece,” he says. He is a part of the investment policies of the management and has been actively involved in equipment structuring for the digital printing set-up of Thomson Press.

To keep himself abreast with the latest technology, Kashyap visits all major international fairs like Imprinta, drupa, IPEX, China Print, to name a few.

He is happily married since 1990 and has two kids. Kashyap’s family has supported him through his erratic work hours. But, he makes it a point to never discuss work pressures at home. Since his busy hours leave no time for hobbies, he is happy watching news channels and reading newspapers in his leisure time. Regular walks keep him fit.

“The best part of my profession is customer satisfaction, which gives me immense pleasure all the time,” concluds Kashyap.

Partners to publishers!

Nutech Print Services was recently in news for acquiring Baba Barkha Nath Printers, who are well known printers for the publishing industry. Here, Ravi Shroff, MD, Nutech Print Services shares the ins and outs of the book printing business. We have a capacity to produce 20,000- 30,000 books on an average every day, shares Ravi Shroff, managing director, Nutech Print Services. In order to cater to more black-and-white publishing jobs, the company has recently taken over Baba Barkha Nath Printers, with Timmy Kuthiala, former managing director at Baba Barkha Nath Printers, joining as the vice-president of operations at Nutech Print Services. “At Nutech, 70-80 percent output is 4-colour while Baba Barkha Nath catered to the black-andwhite segment and they had a set of very good clients in the book publishing segment. As such, it was a total synergistic acquisition. We took many months to work out the deal,” told Ravi.

As a matter of fact, the equipment at Baba Barkha Nath was not a part of the deal. “Some of the employees at Baba Barkha Nath are being absorbed in Nutech,” added Ravi. Baba Barkha Nath Printers is a 37-year-old company, which initially started with a phototypesetting machine. They have been one of the leading book printers in India.

The print jobs…

With a four decade legacy, Nutech Print Services offers prepress, press and finishing facilities to the publishing industry and commercial jobs to corporates. With the help of their 300-plus workforce across their plant in Ballabgarh (Delhi-NCR) and sales & admin office in New Delhi, they can produce any trim size, be it monochrome or high-end colour printing. Their mix of work runs from basic one-colour paperback to high-end 4-colour coffee table/ children's books, school text books, dictionaries, colouring books, travel guides, calendars, bible printing on 28 gsm paper and much more with finishing facilities including soft- and hardcover binding.

Their press installation include 8-colour press, four 4-colour presses, and four single colour machines to meet all kinds of production requirements. On asking about the publishing vs. commercial business, Ravi replied that 80 percent of their job is for book publishing while 20 percent is for other commercial jobs like marketing collaterals. The ratio of domestic vs export business is 40:60 for them. “We are aiming at an equal balance. Exports jobs are very demanding as expectations remain very high,” shared Ravi.

Popular sizes of books…

There are three popular sizes of books – A4, B-format and crown size. “The majority publishing work is in A4 and B-format. Most of the textbook publishers are now going for standardisation towards A4 format, which also gets them better pricing,” shared Ravi.

Consumables used…

Nutech uses both indigenous as well as imported paper, of which 70 percent consumption is of indigenous paper. They use Bible, uncoated, coated paper high bulk paper, etc. “It is more comfortable to work with foreign paper mills as most of them have a three months validity for their paper prices, which is not seen in India, but the long delivery times makes it difficult to use more Foreign paper,” told Ravi. Another important consumable is ink/varnishes and Ravi always uses quality inks from world leaders Toyo and Sakata.

Trends in print runs…

With the print runs decreasing in the publishing segment, what is the trend Ravi sees? “The print runs for fiction is coming down as publishers want to print less, test market it and then place the second run. They do not wish to stock excess printed copies and pulp unsold copies in the end,” told Ravi.

“Similarly, the print runs of dictionaries and reference books has come down drastically. This is because such information is easily available online,” he added. But, there is a silver lining. “The print runs in education segment (K- 12 segment) is going high, increasing at a rate of 10-12 percent every year,” he told. Reprints are more in education segment. “Computer books are frequently updated and have a low shelf life while medical books have an average shelf life of 4-5 years,” he added. With publishing houses going for In order to cater to more black-and-white publishing jobs, the company has recently taken over Baba Barkha Nath Printers, with Timmy Kuthiala, former managing director at Baba Barkha Nath Printers, joining as the vice-president of operations at Nutech Print Services. “At Nutech, 70-80 percent output is 4-colour while Baba Barkha Nath catered to the black-and-white segment and they had a set of very good clients in the book publishing segment. As such, it was a total synergistic acquisition. We took almost 1.5 years to work out the deal,” told Ravi. digital printing, is Nutech also looking at this aspect? “Not at the moment…we feel there is already excess capacity in Digital and the cost being offered by printers is not viable. Also there are many small vendors who are efficiently giving economical solutions to the publishers. So right now, we wish to focus on our core business,” answered Ravi as a matter of fact.

On challenges…

“The cost of labour is growing high, and efficiencies are not improving as they should. Besides, there is stiff competition in this field,” told Ravi. But, he believes that their strengths have helped them face all odds. “We are a solution provider and not just a printer. Our customers are loyal repeat customers as we try to give them a full solution on time. We are a professionallyrun company and we have very good quality of manpower across all levels - Which I believe can be a great differentiator,” shared Ravi.

On competition with Chinese printing…

Though printing industry seems to be facing stiff competition from Chinese printing industry, Ravi has a different opinion. “China is a container pusher. Not every publisher wants container jobs. Few publishers are looking for small to medium runs - Here, India’s role comes into play. Besides, Indians have an obvious advantage in being fully conversant in English language. One should know ones advantage and try to focus on it,” told Ravi.

Future plans…

“India is a huge geographical region and feel many times opportunity exists for print runs to be split, basis delivery requirements. We wish to have our presence in down South and are open to have an understanding with a printer in South - so work can be shared and produced in South,” concluded Ravi.

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