The new look Heidelberg

Heidelberg managing director in India, Klaus Nielsen tells Ramu Ramanathan the company is re-booting its strategy.

11 Jun 2015 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The fifth evening of May was a memorable one for Klaus Nielsen and the Heidelberg team. This is because Rave Scans, with its facilities in Delhi, Gurgaon and Manesar, announced the installation of the country’s first Speedmaster CD 102-6+LX with Foilstar from Heidelberg, at a press gathering in Delhi.
The Speedmaster CD 102-6+LX with Foilstar, which is India’s first and the world’s 59th machine, has been installed at the Manesar plant, and is dedicated to Rave Packaging. With this, the tally of Heidelberg presses at Rave is ten. A Heidelberg loyalist, Rave Scans has never shied away from investing in new technologies. It was the first Indian firm to invest in the Heidelberg’s XL 105 in 2005.
This is what the managing director of Heidelberg India referred to in his short speech. It was a speech that spoke about friendship and resonated with humility and generosity. 
Today, as the Japanese manufacturers rattle out the statistics and wave their Excel sheets, the word in the marketplace is, are we seeing a humble Heidelberg? “Quite untrue,” says Nielsen. “We have always been humble and respected our customers.” The world’s biggest offset press manufacturer leads the market.
And Nielsen is quite clear, “We continue to set the agenda.”What is the scenario today, “While it is true that we will not reach the heady heights of pre-Lehman crisis, we still pack a powerful punch.” Nielsen points out to some of the recent Heidelberg installations, the ISO 12647-2 certified CD 102 press at JC Graphics in Vijayawada and India’s first Speedmaster SX 52 Anicolor press at the Prakash Offset’s plant in Kodialbail, Mangalore.
“Thanks to Anicolor, a printer in India can reduce paper wastage by 90% and enhance productivity by 50% compared to that of conventional press,” he says, adding, “our customers get top offset quality at digital prices.”
The recent months have indeed been good for Heidelberg India. “We were busy installing the CX 102 press with Prinect Inpress control technology, along with the XL 106 presses. Furthermore, we are making great progress in selling CD 102 presses configured for specialty packaging printers,” Nielsen comments.
Heidelberg strengthens focus on growing segments
Post-Drupa 2012, the new CEO Dr Gerold Linzbach, an industry outsider was appointed with the aim of revitalising Heidelberg and creating a profitable cum sustainable business model. The company was restructured into business units with an aim to become more customer-centric and a focus on the growing businesses in the industry.
Today, the structure has a heavy thrust on consumables, parts and service, and digital, which are clearly the growth segments in the print media industry. Also, Heidelberg stays an important manufacturer of sheetfed offset affiliated equipment.
Building partnerships and acquisitions
Nielsen points out; Heidelberg India’s key strategy is in line with its global scope of “developing partnerships”. “We are having our successful sales partnership with Ricoh India since 2011, with good number of installations. Our recent sales and distribution tie-up with Organic Coatings for our consumables business is doing well. Globally, Heidelberg has entered into a partnership with Fujifilm to develop a wide range of digital print solutions. With this, Heidelberg completed the development of 4D object printer, which is our first step into designing printing equipment that can print on any object.”
Recently in March, Heidelberg signed an agreement to acquire European Printing Systems Group (PSG), for an undisclosed sum. In December, the company acquired Belgian consumables business Blueprint Products, in a deal which it referred to at the time as the start of a “more ambitious phase” of acquisition-led expansion.
Reaping dividends
Some of the moves are reaping dividends. In FY 13-14, Heidelberg announced its first profit of 4 million Euro in five years. This ensures the company is no longer in the red.
The group’s FY 14-15 financial figures will be announced by 10 June (after the June issue has gone to press at Kala Jyothi in Hyderabad).
The period was notable for major restructuring initiatives, including the sale of select post-press operations and assets, like saddle-stitchers and perfect-binders to Muller Martini and die-cutters and folder gluers to Chinese manufacturer Masterwork Machinery.
Heidelberg also ceased production of the venerable GTO sheeted press model and streamlined production of other presses as part of moves to increase the profitability of its core equipment business, which accounts for 56% of sales.
Further, Heidelberg’s take over Gallus worldwide, which according to Nielsen should boost the group’s turnover in India since the narrow web label press has “a strong market presence and a solid customer roster”.
On the Heidelberg India business, Klaus Nielsen states,” Looking forward, I am confident that the recovery of Indian economy and the devaluation of Euro will help us achieving our goals in FY 16.”
The future at Heidelberg
Heidelberg has one eye on digital print. In all likelihood, it will constitute 15% of its business by 2020, with “a €200m target for the business”. The areas of focus are: labels, 4D objects, and sheetfed inkjet. Those who are skeptical about Heidelberg’s digital track record should bear in mind that Nexpress was a co-development between Heidelberg and Kodak.
Klaus Nielsen adds, “Our entry into producing digital label printing equipment has so far resulted in the inkjet label press Gallus DCS 340. It is currently the world’s only press able to produce personalised and versioned labels with inkjet technology combining the quality of offset printing, the speed of flexographic printing and the typical Gallus finishing and post-press options. The Gallus DCS 340 will be going into series production in time for Labelexpo Europe in September 2015. Heidelberg is  also developing its first inkjet sheetfed press which would be launched in Drupa 2016.
Further adding to Indian operations, Nielsen comments that a sizeable income comes from service and consumables sales. Of course, the equipment sales too have picked up.
Heidelberg made a big impact at Print China 2015 exhibition held at Dongguan City, Guangdong. 
The star at the Heidelberg stall was the global debut kit – Speedmaster CS 92 – the first-of-its-kind press from Heidelberg in the 92cm format. It is designed especially for the commercial printing industry. In addition to the CS 92, the new model of Linoprint CV digital printing system was also launched at the show along with the Jetmaster 4D printing equipment. He adds, “As a company we allocate a lot of our budget to R&D. This explains the show of strength at Print China.”
Commenting on the Heidelberg Speedmaster CS 92, Nielsen says, “The CS 92 is built on the same lines of CD 102 presses, but the format size is an added advantage, especially for the Indian market, since most commercial printers use double demi-size format, this 37-inch press would be more apt for their jobs.” 
Even as we trade print numbers and print jobs, one thing is clear; Nielsen is a man who exudes confidence in the Indian print industry. His parting shot, “As long as there is print, and that will be for a long time, there will be Heidelberg at the forefront.”
How did you get into the printing industry
After university,  I joined EAC (Danish Trading Company) and was given the choice of either going to Vietnam to sell chocolate or going to India to sell Heidelberg Used equipment. Fascinated with India, the choice was easy.
If you were not in the printing industry
Then I would be selling chocolate or teaching history.
Best printing equipment and why
XL 75 – The most aesthetic and efficient printing press ever designed by Heidelberg.
One thing you would want to change about the industry
I wish the industry will get a fair chance to shine in the “Make in India” drive.
The next biggest technological change to affect the printing industry: 
Artificial intelligence and what Harvard Business School has termed  “Smart Connected Products”
If you were on a 20 hours flight with one person from the printing industry: 
Actually I would fill the aircraft with the industry’s most successful business owners and attempt to fully comprehend their formula for success.
After a great day at work: Watch a movie with my wife.
What makes you laugh: 
John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) and my children’s wicked sense of humour.
What would you purchase if you won a lottery:
Chennai Super Kings. (Like Heidelberg, they may not always win, but they are always in the finals).
For you, print is all about: 
Enabling Heidelberg India’s team to provide value to our customers.