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Confidence Marks Heidelberg Open House

August 30, 2013
KENNESAW, GA—There is no sugar coating the challenging economic climate that exists in the printing industry, and Marcel Kiessling is well aware of it. Kiessling, a member of the management board of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG who also heads up the sales and service segments, doesn't think that is cause for taking a negative outlook, however, and it's not a case of pollyanna hopefulness.

"Let's be confident about the future of the printing industry, in total," Kiessling said during a break at Heidelberg's Discover HEI Open House on Aug. 27. "Certainly it is undergoing changes and we have to adapt, but it can be profitable.

"Too many people are waiting for the good old days to come back. But the question you have to ask yourself is, do I believe in the future of the printing industry, and if yes, then I can't sit on the sidelines."

More than 200 companies from the United States, Canada and Mexico were represented, making it a truly North American event. After a welcoming reception dinner on Aug. 26, visitors to the North American Print & Packaging Technology Center were treated to a day of bow-to-stern Heidelberg and friends technologies, led on the iron side by a trio of Speedmaster presses (XL 106, CX 102 and SX 74).

The well-orchestrated event included a sampling of prepress and workflow technologies, including the Prinect suite (Business Manager, Web-to-Print Manager, Prepress Manager). Postpress gear on display was highlighted by the Stahlfolder line (KH 82, TX 82, TH 56), the Eurobind 600 perfect binder and the Stitchmaster ST 500 saddle stitcher. Digital equipment included samples from partnership corporations Ricoh (C751 and C901+) and EFI (wide-format H652, VUTEk GS3250 LX Pro).

Kiessling's theme was constant throughout the demonstrations: It takes the latest in technologies to be efficient on the production end, reducing running costs, doing more with fewer resources. Otherwise, "you're leaving money on the table." While Heidelberg has endured financial challenges the past few years, it is heartened by the 21 percent growth in U.S. sales during the past year, primarily fueled by the 40˝ format.

"I think the consolidation we've seen over the past couple of years shows that the survivors are good companies that will be dominating in the future. That's a good sign," Kiessling added.

Chris McDevitt, prepress manager for Great Atlantic Graphics of Malvern, PA, notes his company's pressroom is fueled by a pair of Speedmaster XL 105s. Among the technology he was most impressed by was the automation offered by the Polar cutter and related equipment.

"We were checking out the XL 106," he added. "It's an awesome piece of equipment."

It was the second straight open house for Michael Kingery of Kingery Printing, who was looking at the Heidelberg Prinect prepress workflow and Polar cutting systems for his Effingham and Henry, IL-based facilities. The company president prefers the open house format because of the depth of information and service that is at his disposal.

"This is an excellent venue. It's got the full complement of equipment and staff, including prepress, press, bindery and packaging," he says. "The product managers give you that one-on-one time, and with technologies becoming more sophisticated, that becomes very important. It allows you to go more in depth with the technologies and the experiences, in contrast to the trade show atmosphere. It's a refreshing alternative."

The Stahlfolder KH 82 was among the highlights on the wish list for McClung Companies of Waynesboro, VA. Dave Perkins, the vice president and general manager at McClung, points out that his half-size shop has a five-color Heidelberg CD 74, but it is so efficient that it is "over-running" the binding equipment.

"We're looking to get technology to keep up with the presses," said Perkins, who expects to pull the trigger in the next year to 18 months. "Putting some more pieces on the floor gives us some extra firepower in the bindery."

While he noted that Heidelberg had the advantage of getting his undivided attention, Perkins pointed out that McClung—a G7 Master Qualified printer—is already laden with two Speedmasters and a Quickmaster in addition to the CD press.

"It's like Christmas Day, seeing the latest and greatest machinery," Perkins laughed.


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