manroland sheetfed Back With a Vengeance
OFFENBACH, GERMANY—After reaching insolvency in 2012, the organization formerly known as manroland split into two entities—manroland web systems and manroland sheetfed—then set upon regaining former glories in their respective segments.
On Tuesday, manroland sheetfed CEO Rafael Penuela spoke to a select group of journalists via a Web press conference to outline the direction of the press provider in the face of a challenging economic market and an industry that, especially on the North American end, is decidedly leaning toward digital technologies.
Headlining the press conference was the news that manroland sheetfed would be unveiling new equipment prior to the end of the year. While Penuela played details close to the vest, it is believed that the Offenbach, Germany-based firm will be showcasing a new press.
"The focus will be automation, user- friendly, some smaller technologies or features with bigger commercial effects, better return on investment," Penuela revealed.
Among the topics touched upon by the manroland sheetfed CEO:
• Penuela points out that while the company is decidedly smaller—staffing was reduced from 4,300 to 1,800—the company's post-insolvency cross-training initiative has produced a workforce that is more flexible and more well-rounded. However, research and development staffing did not suffer, according to Penuela.
"People who build ROLAND 700s now also can build ROLAND 500s, which was impossible previously," Penuela said. "We are experiencing since than a reduction of our overall quality costs, which is a good proof that our presses have even improved when it comes to quality of manufacturing and durability."
• Part of the challenge was in transforming the mindset from that of a huge corporation to a mittelstand (German for middle sized). The employees—emboldened by working with owner Tony Langley (who heads Langley Holdings, manroland sheetfed's parent)—have responded to the challenge of taking ownership in their work and the company while continuing to provide innovative service to customers.
• The industry is still at least a year away from seeing the fusion of Benny Landa's Nano ink technology fused with a manroland conventional press. The four cornerstones to the agreement—quality similar to offset; speeds of 12,000/hr.; the ability to use a wide variety of substrates; and ink costs of no more than 50 percent of inkjet inks—will need to be fully met, according to Penuela.
• On the whole, the XXL market segment, a sweet spot for manroland sheetfed, is performing well. "The large size market is slightly growing in the packaging area for food and non-food products," Penuela said. "Despite the consolidation of the market, we can observe a clear investment policy of those printers for the coming years. The trend in commercial print (e.g. book printing) is different. Here we do not see a growth on a global basis. For us large size remains an important market since our customer base is still significant."
• As for drupa 2016 and exhibitions in general, Penuela believes showcasing machinery is a "less efficient way to demonstrate technologies to the customers. He was unsure as to whether manroland sheetfed would display presses at drupa.