The first ever Middle East press tour was planned by Heidelberg from 8th to 11th of February 2011. Heidelberg started the program with a visit to its 'Print media Academy'. Print Media Academy offers in Germany and 18 other locations worldwide a comprehensive program of training courses and seminars that convey sound knowledge about the latest technological innovations and the principles and techniques of successful management.

Print Media Center (PMC)

The Print Media Center (PMC) is one of several Heidelberg demonstration centres that offer printers in all major regions of the world the opportunity to "test drive" new print solutions. The headquarters in Heidelberg - where together with the factory in Wiesloch around 3,800 square meters are reserved for customer visits. Almost the entire portfolio of Heidelberg products and solutions is on hand. Last year some 1,300 customer groups from the print media industry took advantage of the PMC's offerings. In the PMC, the entire production workflow is presented, which means that virtually all business models for a sheetfed offset print shop now on the market are on display.

All Heidelberg presses destined for the world market are manufactured at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site in line with strict quality standards. Standardized presses in all standard format classes and folding machines for the Chinese market are produced by Heidelberg in Qingpu near Shanghai. In financial year 2009/2010, Heidelberg recorded sales of EUR 2.306 billion. As at March 31, 2010, the Heidelberg Group had a workforce of 16,496 worldwide of which 1,250 are in research & development, 6,100 in manufacturing assembly, 3,400 in service, 1,400 in sales and 2,200 in administration.

After the PMC tour, Heidelberg's marketing manager formarketing distributor network, Volker Trapmann gave a company presentation discussing about print industry worldwide. "Print industry plays a key role in the economy. Printing worldwide generates 1% of the global gross domestic product, equivalent to approximately €380 billion. The main areas of business for Heidelberg are Advertising printing and Packaging & labels which forms to 56% of the total printing volume. Both are growing at 1.8% and 2.8% annually. The company has 250 branches in more than170 countries and have around 200,000 customers worldwide. On average, Heidelberg boosts the productivity of its solutions by 25 to 30% every four years.

Heidelberg Prinect workflow

As per Heidelberg, integration is a particular interest point for many of the exhibitions. When buying new print machines visitors want to see how printers can be incorporated into an overall integration concept and what advantages can be achieved in terms of productivity and efficiency. Prinect integrates the traditionally separate areas of management, prepress, press and postpress, automates the entire printing process. As per company Prinect addresses major 3 needs in printshop: fast throughput through Integration and Automation, faster make ready and consistent colour lastly cost transparency.

Heidelberg Web-to-print strategy

The main aim of the company is to connect to selected web to print partner solutions, finish and enhance remote access and develop smart production automation. Some of the partners include PageFlex, RedTie, MS-Visucom, Neo7even and Brandmaker. Heidelberg also recently partnered with Red Tie and Tharstern to launch a web-to-print production system that can generate, process and route jobs ordered online.

Digital partner

Member of the Management Board, responsible for Heidelberg Equipment, Stephan Plenz gave the presentation on Heidelberg's complete equipment range from prepress to postpress. He explained the new press, CX102 meets the requirements of professional printers. The press has a tecnology from XL105 and successful platform of CD102. The company has also revealed that its new solution will involve a digital device costing circa €100,000, with a speed of 80-90ppm. As per latest announcement, Ricoh will be its partner in order to develop the printers. This will run in combination with its Anicolor sheetfed press and be integrated into the Prinect workflow, with a 'job gate' to route jobs to the most efficient output option.

The first public demonstration of the companies' products working together, with the C901 Graphic Arts Edition machine integrated into Heidelberg's Prinect workflow software, will be at the digi:media tradeshow from 7-9 April, Dusseldorf.

Heidelberg Services

Member of the Executive Board, Heidelberg Services, Marcel Kiessling gave the presentation on its background and objectives. Under the umbrella of Heidelberg Services following divisions are incorporated: Systemservice, Spare Parts, Saphira Consumables, Prinect Software, Prepress, Business Consultancy and Remarketed Equipment. Kiessling said that 40% of the revenue comes from Services. The main challenge seen by this division is the skill set of the people, as per Kiessling.

Customer visits

Heidelberg conducted visits to two of its customers using XL platform and Polar machines. One of the customer was Druckerei Bauer who is specialised in folding box manufacturing for pharmaceutical industry. The company was formed in 1960 and has 83 employees now with turnover of about 12.4m Euro. The company has two XL105, 6 and 4 colours with coater. They have two Dymatrix 105 and Diana in postpress department. The company is fully integrated with Prinect. The company produces about 250 million folding boxes per year. Company also has a digital printing department using two Kodak Nexpress five colours with average 500 label jobs per day with run length of up to 1000 copies. The press is directly connected with SAP to clients by which it gets ready to print pdf files. Company wants to expand in specialised pharmaceutical industry printing in future. The second customer was Metzger Druck that was founded in 1956 and has won CIPPI-Award for category: Best Cost-Value Ratio in 2008. Managing director of the company, Julian Metzger said: "We could do 40% of more jobs after integration with Prinect. We did a investment of 30k Euro by which we could save about 100k Euro with prepress manager."

The 75 staff company has two XL105 and a SM102 in total of 7,000 sqm production area. Talking about what the company would like to have or feel missing in current workflow system, he said: "We miss MIS system. We have schedule but can not really use it. MIS needs material management and we would like to use RFID system. We would like to integrate customers and paper suppliers as well in it."

The company also invested in Polar cutter 137XT. "We could save labor of 1 employee through high amount of automation through piling board buffer, transomat unloader, stack lifts and autotrim," he said. Company claims to achieve more transparency by quantity determination for controlling and preliminary costing. There is a data terminal on machine for controlling and final costing.

Company also planning to invest in Polar 66X, a small size cutting systems which is possible to integrate with workflow via P-Net. This investment comes as after purchase of HP Indigo press.

Polar factory visit

The last part of the tour concluded in Polar factory. The company which is founded in 1906 is known for high-speed cutters for the graphic and paper converting industry, peripheral equipment for all operations around cutting, LabelSystems and Pile Turners.

The company is ideally located in Hofheim which is a strategic location because of its excellent connection to direct Autobahn connection to the Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport. The company is 100% family owned, with Alfred Henschel and Michael Neugart as Joint managing directors. The company has about 410 employees and has a yearly production capacity of 1000 High Speed Cutters and 900 Peripheral equipment components. Company hasrepresentations in 170 countries with over 200 branch offices. The turnover of the company is about Euro 52million ($72m).

Polar has exclusive global sales cooperation with Heidelberg since 1949. The MEA sales contribution is 8% as per managing director, Michael Neugart.

Innovative products

Some of the products shown by Polar in the demo center included a Polar Label System. In this machine pre-cut strips are aligned on the Polar LT-S buffer/loading table, and fed to the automated cutter Polar Autocut 25, where they are cut into labels. After being completely cut on the Autocut, the label stacks are transferred to the DC system die-cutter. The key component of the system is the Polar system die-cutter DC, which works according to the puncture principle. The punching stamp pushes the material stack through the cutting die which gives the stack its intended shape. Then the die-cut label stack is pushed into the transfer unit to the BD single-head bander and banded either as a single pack or as a log.

The other innovative product shown was Polar automated jogging system, Autojog. It is a fully-automated jogging system. In this the ream is divided into several part-reams. The part-ream is taken off the untrimmed stack and transported to the fanning unit by transfer and pushing grippers. It is fanned out by the patent pending two-roller system. In the automatic jogger the material to be cut is positioned with precisely aligned edges. A fixing clamp locks the jogged part-ream in the jogger. Once the desired ream height is attained, the air is removed from the entire ream. The material is unloaded onto a Transomat unit which then automatically stacks it onto a pallet. The air removal feature of the jogger helps to form a block from the ream to be cut and reduces the production risks.

Also quantity determination by weighing has become a very important component in the finishing of printed material. The Polar's new sheet-counting scale is placed on top of a weighing platform.