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100 Year Old Bosch-Druck Adapts to a Digital Age

Published on April 30, 2012

Cary Sherburne interviews Dr. Rüdiger Schmidt, Managing Director at Bosch-Druck about the company's rich history and their modern conversion to digital printing.

Cary Sherbrune:  Hi.  I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Rüdiger Schmidt from Germany.  Your company is Bosch-Druck.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Absolutely, yeah.

Cary Sherbrune:  Glad to have you here today.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Wonderful.  Thank you.

Cary Sherbrune:  Can you give us a little background about your company and, you know, when you were founded and what kind of production platform you have, that kind of thing?

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Oh, that would be a long story telling everything about the past.  We were actually founded in 1914.

Cary Sherbrune:  Oh wow.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  So we’re getting clOcé to our 100th Anniversary.

Cary Sherbrune:  Oh, that’s terrific.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  And for the most time all the business for the last many decades we’ve been employing offset at the main production technology and we started digital.  By the time it started I thought it’s already quite late, but it turned out to be quite early in 2001 when we had the first press.  And we’ve grown that part of the operation now to around 30 percent of all business.

Cary Sherbrune:  Oh wow, that’s great.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  And we have five Indigos and Océ, and we do lots of stuff in terms of black and white for publishing that’s a little bit from our traditional business.  And then with the many, many color machines we do photo books, everything in the photo specialty area; also, some quite interesting things with data printing for automotive.  And the other thing that we also have is print business coming to us from all different sides of the industry.

Cary Sherbrune:  And mostly—is your business mostly from companies and people within Germany or are you pretty international, or how is that working?

Rüdiger Schmidt:  It depends a little bit on what you call international, because being in the middle of Europe, Austria, for instance, is quite clOcé to us so we do work also for Switzerland and Austria.  And we do have some international work that’s been pushed to us from the U.S., but that’s only on a minor scale.

Cary Sherbrune:  On a minor scale.  So if you look at your business now so it’s been a little over ten years you’ve had digital, how would you break it out percentage-wise between analog and digital now?

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Well, analog had also been growing, especially before we were going through the crisis that really hit us all so hard because automotive in the southern part of Germany with VMW, Audi and Mercedes, we really felt the heat of the crisis.  But before, offset was also increasing, but digital was increasing much more.  So by now it’s about 30 percent of our business.

Cary Sherbrune:  Digital—wow, that’s great.  And so what are some of the new conversations that you’re having with customers because you have that digital capability?

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Lots of the new conversations we have is really on the handling and the production of print on demand and really very small order sizes.  Whenever you get connected to that platform, the idea of handling a shopping cart with all the different items, some items might even be coming from pre-production from offset, others might be non-print products that we don’t just put into the shipments for the customers.  And, of course, at the core it’s a digital print that we produce and really do nth to customer fulfillment, and that really has been growing quite a lot.  While in the beginning, we were doing short runs, we were doing manuals, we were doing short run book printing, not really going all the way down to the really small order sizes, but that’s now changing towards the direction.

Cary Sherbrune:  And customers are really into that now, right, because they want to save the money and reduce the waste.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Yes, yes.  And with the technology improving and the cost per piece coming down, we’ve now seen that on the promise of short run for publishing the cost per piece goes down to a level where it is interesting then to talk about the concepts that we’ve known for a long time, not stock anything and doing everything on demand and really find the right mix between offset and digital.  And then, of course, digital is profiting from that and offset might be losing a bit.  But overall, if you offer all solutions to the customer, you as the print provider might be better off because you’re the one-stop solution for them.

Cary Sherbrune:  So you really have a true hybrid production platform.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Yeah.

Cary Sherbrune:  That’s great.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  I mean offset still is by far the most part of our business, where Heidelberg company, only having Heidelberg presses.  It really is a bit pity for us to see how the German manufacturing companies in that area as MAN Roland, Heidelberg and KBA, not so much KBA, but MAN Roland and Heidelberg are suffering, because it’s a really, really important technology for us to give the full picture, the full solution to our customers. 

Cary Sherbrune:  Yeah.  Well, thank you very much for sharing your perspective.

Rüdiger Schmidt:  Thank you.

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