Heidelberg's Packaging Day Highlights 'Game-Changing' Primefire 106
The future looks bright inside of Heidelberg's Print Media Center (PMC) in Wiesloch-Walldorf, Germany. This year, the company's Packaging Day event, held Nov. 8-9, marks the first time both journalists and customers have been brought together in a single Packaging Day event.
Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, provided the audience with opening remarks for the two day event. He explained that the packaging industry is a segment of growth with an expected 3% increase over the next five years. To continue to grow and find success though, he said there are challenges that must be addressed. These challenges include consolidation in the market, demands for higher quality products, necessity to meet legal requirements and a competitive landscape. Technology, he said, should drive operational excellence or innovation, "or better, both."
In the end, he said it's important for Heidelberg to focus on digital solutions, such as its Primefire 106, a hybrid inkjet/offset press for the folding carton market.
For a firsthand look at the impact the Primefire 106 can have for converters, Steffan Schnizer, managing director, SVP sales, global beauty and personal care at Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS), took the floor to speak about his company's experience with the new technology.
"Creating the future means understanding the roots and taking the right decisions," he said.
Schnizer explained that MPS, a recent acquisition of WestRock and the first Primefire 106 customer, wanted to take the next step in digital solutions for packaging, and Primefire fit the bill.
The Primefire, he said, matched perfectly with MPS' "value delivery model," to provide a complete approach to supporting customers. He explained that the model asks the question, "when, where and how can [our customers] sell to their customers?"
The addition of the press complements MPS' offset production and allows MPS to offer new products and services that weren't available before, such as personalized printing, increased flexibility and lower minimum order quantities (MOQs).
Besides being "very happy" with the technology and being able to produce customers' products faster at a high quality, Schnizer said that the technology will be a game-changer.
"This is absolutely going to change the printing and folding carton industry," he concluded.
Continuing the positivity radiating through Heidelberg's facility, Stephan Plenz, member of the board digital technology at Heidelberg, led a presentation on the future of packaging.
After pointing to the needs of customers, which is changing the packaging landscape, Plenz stressed the importance of automating the production process. He explained that it is crucial to automate the makeready process and to be prepared for each step, working toward a low- or no-touch workflow. He also placed an emphasis on the importance of sustainability, stating that anything that isn't considered "green" will not be acceptable.
The Primefire 106, he said, can address many of the challenges that customers face and can open up new jobs and services that weren't available before. In fact, the new technology has been so popular, that Plenz said Heidelberg has ramped up its production of the Primefire presses by 50% to meet customer demand.
The Primefire: Live and In Action
Hearing about digital printing with the new seven-color Primefire 106 digital press is one thing, but seeing it running in a manufacturing facility is quite another. Attendees were taken to MPS's location in Obersulm, Germany, to witness the star of Heidelberg's Packaging Day in action. The behemoth of a press is located within MPS' approximately 20,000-sq.-m. facility and marks the first digital press at MPS' Obersulm location.
Schnizer explained that not only is the digital press ideal for personalization, it can be used for innovation in security features, such as high resolution micro text, variable image combinations and covert marks.
Another opportunity the Primefire provides package printers is its smart packaging capabilities.
"Products are a social network," he said.
Schnizer pointed out that barcodes can be brought to a different level of intelligence that can connect brand owners with consumers and encourage them to engage with the products on a deeper level. Brand owners can use the data gathered from smart packaging to understand how consumers are interacting with the product.
"Folding cartons can become the bridge between brand owners and consumers," he said.
Suggesting and providing new and innovative packaging solutions is a way for package printers to add value to their offerings, and ultimately attract new customers. Schnizer stressed the importance of working with customers to come up with new packaging to stand out from the competition.
"It's not about duplicating what already exists," he said, "it's about developing new products."