Leading print shops specializing in packaging printing, point of sales (POS), publishing, commercial work, and short-run color printing achieve the best price-performance ratios with the Speedmaster XL 145 and XL 162 presses. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) unveiled its large-format presses at drupa 2008 and has been manufacturing them in series production since early 2009. Heidelberg won a substantial share of the market shortly after market launch – and sales have continued to rise. For the new series, Heidelberg invested in state-of-the-art assembly equipment and a print media center in Hall 11 at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site. Today, the company supplies the Speedmaster XL 145 and XL 162 in four- to eight-color models with coating unit, dual coating, UV equipment, perfecting technology, and material logistics.
The presses are mainly sold to companies specializing in packaging printing and short-run color jobs. The other presses go to POS and display printers as well as to publishing and commercial businesses.
"We have achieved our goal of positioning our large-format presses successfully on the market. State-of-the-art technologies cover all the key market trends and our customers benefit from the best price-performance ratio available on the market today. We are currently extending the product line," explains Jürgen Grimm, Head of Product Marketing Equipment at Heidelberg.
High flexibility of the Speedmaster XL 145 and XL 162 presses covers key market trends
The large-format presses from Heidelberg are based on Speedmaster XL 105 technology and score with extremely short makeready times, minimal paper waste, high flexibility with a range of substrates, and high availability. They offer the perfect answer to global market trends, such as lean manufacturing, i.e. industrial print production, these days primarily achieved through process optimization. The market is still calling for ever-larger formats suitable for processing ever-shorter runs. Packaging printing is exhibiting a trend towards print-on-demand or repeat jobs with ever-shorter runs. This demands optimum warehousing solutions with extremely short throughput times. Solutions from Heidelberg are second to none when it comes to making print products stand out through extremely versatile surface finishing and thereby giving companies a vital edge over their competitors.
Successful customers across all market segments
International market leaders in packaging printing, such as Mayr-Melnhof Packaging in Europe and RockTenn in the United States, have opted for the Speedmaster XL 145 press, and one of them has already placed orders for more machines. These customers value and expect maximum productivity coupled with extremely short makeready times. Over a period of four months in three-shift production, one print shop achieved average production speeds of 14,300 sheets per hour on the Speedmaster XL 145-6-L – and did so with a maximum speed of 15,000 sheets per hour. This corresponds to an output of more than five million sheets a month and, consequently, 60 million sheets a year. The average makeready time was less than 25 minutes per print job.
Since the start of 2010, packaging and surface finishing specialist Karl Knauer KG in Biberach, Germany, has been using the world's first six-color Speedmaster XL 145 with dual coating, Prinect Inpress Control, and fully-integrated material logistics. This machine was part of the largest investment ever made in the company's history, amounting to EUR 10 million. Four meters high and over 40 meters long, this machine is the ultimate in cutting-edge packaging and surface finishing technology. The employees played a key role in the investment planning process. One crucial factor was the machine's ability to print short runs more cost-effectively, too.
The Speedmaster XL 145 enables simple control of all job parameters – from feeding, printing, and coating to drying and delivery – and also handles register and color control fully automatically. Karl Knauer had stipulated that the new Speedmaster should be ready to produce packaging orders after 250 makeready sheets, which amounts to a considerable saving in time and material for average run sizes of 7,000 sheets. "Despite the size of the machine, two employees can operate it without any problems," says Production Manager Gerhard Kammerer. "We are delighted to generate substantial added value for our customers in terms of quality, capacity, and diversity," adds Kammerer. Overall, the Speedmaster XL 145 cuts both the number of makeready sheets and makeready times by 50 percent.?
Karl Knauer KG is a member of the Copaco Alliance. Production is divided between packaging and advertising materials, particularly office products and stationery, for the European market. Karl Knauer's third business pillar is customized premium-quality presentation packaging, a segment in which the company is market leader, specializing in high-quality wine and liquor packaging.
Print shops producing point of sales materials also give solely positive feedback on the performance of the large-format presses from Heidelberg. For example, one customer achieves average makeready times of 12 minutes per job – and does so for 40 print jobs per day. This corresponds to around 13 jobs per shift. Other customers have switched from competition models to presses from Heidelberg. Just recently, the Quad/Winkowski print shop installed the first Speedmaster XL 162 in Poland. The five-color press with coating unit and Prinect Inpress Control produces large-format POS displays in extremely high quality and with minimal paper waste. In doing so, it also ensures ecological print production. The customer is so impressed with the fast, reliable, and straightforward operation of the Speedmaster XL 162 that it has already ordered a second one.
The print shop SB Graphic in Paris produces POS displays for the luxury segment and swears by the high quality and extremely short makeready times of the Speedmaster XL 162.
With poster production and short-run color jobs, the Speedmaster XL 145 also scores highly thanks to the extremely short makeready times it achieves in this format. For short-run color printing, this solution enables 12 jobs per hour with makeready times of four minutes per job and runs of 200 sheets. The shorter the print runs, the greater the cost benefit. This makes it possible for print shops to operate completely new business models.
In 2009, the Swiss print shop Schlaefli & Maurer AG placed a major order worth around CHF 10 million for an end-to-end solution from Heidelberg for its new production site in Uetendorf near Thun. The Speedmaster XL 145 five-color press with coating unit and the Suprasetter 145 CtP system both made their debut in Switzerland at the start of 2010 when they were taken into operation by the customer. All components are fully integrated in a single production system by means of the Prinect print shop workflow. This investment package also included a Speedmaster XL 105 5-L, a Stahlfolder TD 112, and a high-performance cutting line from Polar-Mohr. After more than a year, Schlaefli & Maurer is very pleased with the investment and, in the Speedmaster XL 145, has gained a unique selling point that so far is unmatched in the high-quality commercial printing sector in Switzerland. Above all, the customer values the versatility and flexibility of the press. It uses high-quality papers with grammages ranging from 80 to 800 gsm. Its products include annual reports, catalogs, magazines, picture calendars, maps, and window displays. The press can also be used for inline perforating and die cutting – a further example of lean manufacturing. "The large-format press has proved a resounding success so far. We have won many new customers thanks to its high print quality and broad spectrum of applications," says Rolf Hänni, CEO of Schlaefli & Maurer AG. New print applications include maps, watch catalogs, and posters in F4 and F12 format. The Speedmaster XL 145 has already produced more than 15 million sheets. In the biggest single order, 160 metric tons of paper – equivalent to 300 pallets – were printed, cut, folded, and delivered. In postpress, the Stahlfolder TD 112 scores highly because it can cut sheets in full format and fold them simultaneously in two repeats.
The Speedmaster XL 105 and XL 145 presses are integrated into an air-conditioning concept and are supplied with heat, air, coolant, and conditioned dampening solution via the highly-efficient Star peripherals from Heidelberg. ??In future, Schlaefli & Mauer plans to further expand its share of high-quality print products, packaging printing, jobs with online mixed forms, and standard jobs.?
Extremely short makeready times and optimum automation
The Speedmaster XL 145 and XL 162 presses are designed for industrial print shops. All their characteristics – such as flat sheet travel in the press, automated plate changing, optimized compensation processes during plate assembly, and inline quality measurement on the fly with Prinect Inpress Control – meet the very highest requirements in terms of print quality and material utilization. Their stable construction and design is geared towards continuous operation. What's more, the inking unit technology, which is unique in this format class, and the innovative Prinect Press Center control station with IntelliStart operator guidance support a standardized print process. In terms of the makeready times for changing inks, screen rollers, printing and coating plates, there is no comparable solution on the market at present. From the initial development phase, the press delivery and dryer solution was designed to maximize production speeds. Further key focal points during development included operator ergonomics and accessibility, e.g. of the sheet guiding elements. Operation is based on the latest industry standards using the jogwheel and the Prinect Press Center control station. The latter integrates all the auxiliaries and provides a platform for central operation. New features of the large format class include the integration of the Prinect modules, RemoteAccess, eCall, Color Assistant, and AnalysePoint. This enables customers to benefit from the advantages of remote maintenance, automated color management, and cost-effective machine utilization analysis.
The perfecting press is also equipped with a revolutionary delivery concept. Unlike conventional large-format deliveries, the sheet is transported to the delivery not just by means of a gripper bar at the front edge of the sheet, but by two gripper systems at the front and rear edges. On arrival at the delivery, it is slowed and delivered using another gripper system. This innovation dispenses with the need for a sheet guide plate and the sheet brakes in the press delivery. This leads to far higher print quality, because it eliminates the possibility of fresh ink finding its way onto the sheet guide plate or sheet brakes. The elimination of the standard braking corridor also allows the untrimmed sheet format to be reduced by around 50 mm in width. With a print output of 30 million sheets per year, for example, this would save up to EUR 200,000 per year in material costs. What's more, it also enables the production of mixed forms with different repeat sizes and very flexible arrangements on a single sheet. Further benefits of eliminating the sheet brakes include reduced makeready times, as there is no need to set the brakes in the delivery area, and excellent pile quality due to unprecedented control of the sheet drop in the delivery.
Industrial print production with exceptionally low manufacturing costs per print sheet
An economic assessment conducted by Heidelberg has calculated that, thanks to the numerous automated components in the large-format perfecting press, the investment costs account for around 40 percent of the machine's hourly rate – and are thus around 10 percent higher than other press configurations. If productivity – i.e. speed benefits and the reduction in manual activities during the makeready process – is factored into the economic assessment, the unit costs drop significantly. The manufacturing costs per print sheet are far lower than with other presses, for which the time and material savings cannot be reduced to the same extent.
In this way, coordinated solutions and end-to-end processes encompassing prepress, press, and postpress give rise to sustainable production efficiency. Large-format presses from Heidelberg are integrated into the solution portfolio for the entire value-added chain from prepress through to postpress, including workflow integration, consumables, and comprehensive consulting and other services. The overall equipment efficiency (OEE) rating is normally used as the key management indicator for industrial productivity. Developed in Japan for packaging printing, this rating indicates how the three parameters of quality, performance, and availability interact. The ideal OEE rating is 1.0. The indicators determined for Heidelberg customers clearly reflect the potential of large-format presses in practice.