Heidelberg Details Key Trends for Packaging's Future
Heidelberg's Packaging Day, held Nov. 8-9 in Wiesloch-Walldorf, Germany, brought together journalists and customers to experience the latest technology that Heidelberg has to offer at its Print Media Center.
On the first day of the event, Stephan Plenz, member of the board digital technology, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, led a session, "Pushing the Future of Packaging," exploring the future of packaging and Heidelberg's role in the innovation that will shape the industry.
Plenz pointed to trends influencing the industry, including the increase of short runs and print functionality; cost pressures; environmental pressures; continued globalization; and an increase in automation and low- and no-touch workflows.
Sustainability will play a larger role in the future, Plenz said, and any packaging that isn't "green" will not succeed in the future. Automation is also key, Plenz said, but it isn't just about running jobs faster, it's about automating makeready and being prepared for the next step in the production process to streamline the workflow.
One of the ways to help automate the package printing process is to adopt workflow software, such as Heidelberg's Prinect modules, which can be used as a holistic approach to integrate all steps of a production process into one workflow, Plenz explained. He also highlighted Heidelberg's "Push to Stop" navigated printing technology, available with the company's new Speedmaster devices. It improves automation and operations by initiating and continuing production processes without operator intervention. He explained that more than 300 machines with Push to Stop technology have been installed worldwide, and that one customer in particular, Acket, increased its productivity by 20% with the use of the technology, when compared to a competitive device.
"Push to Stop is creating a huge opportunity for business," he said. It also represents a "paradigm shift," he continued, because it alleviates makeready worries that companies may have.
Intellistart 2 with Intelliguide from Heidelberg, another component of Push to Stop, automatically calculates the fastest makeready strategy and ultimately guides the operator through the steps of the production process on the press.
Although ensuring a streamlined workflow and increasing automation are two keys to success, according to Plenz, incorporating digital printing into a business strategy is going to be the future of the packaging industry.
To meet the growing demand for digital solutions, Heidelberg boasts a range of digital printing devices, the Omnifire, Versafire, Labelfire and the new Primefire 106. The Primefire 106, Plenz explained, is ideal for a variety of users:
- Folding Carton Converters - can be beneficial in short runs and for jobs that require fast turnarounds
- Pharma Converters - enables users to meet traceability and counterfeiting regulations
- Calendar, Poster and Card Producers - allows users to personalize products, reduce inventory and costs
- Publishing Houses - can be used for the production of short run book covers, reduce inventory and personalize items
The seven-color Primefire 106 is based on the Speedmaster XL 106 platform and can produce 95% of Pantone colors, Plenz said. In addition, it enables industrial inkjet printing up to 75x106-cm format size with the control of more than 12 billion drops per sheet.
Another aspect of the production process that needs to be addressed is communication, which Plenz said can be solved with Heidelberg's Smart Collaboration, a cloud-based communication channel. It provides access to analytics and predictive monitoring, and users access to assistance and performance indicators.
After exploring key issues facing the package printing industry and solutions from Heidelberg designed to address the issues, journalists were taken to see the first Primefire 106 installed and in action at Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS) in Obersulm, Germany. The trip was provided to gain a better understanding of how the technology can be integrated into a facility.
Steffan Schnizer, managing director, SVP sales, global beauty and personal care at MPS, explained that the Primefire 106 can be a way to add value and offer new and innovative products to customers. However, if considering the technology, it's important to develop work for the device, rather than just transition existing work to it.