IPG Visits Heidelberg

Last week, In-plant Graphics had an opportunity to visit Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG’s headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, to talk with executives (including new CEO Dr. Gerold Linzbach) and tour the company’s massive press manufacturing facility in Wiesloch-Walldorf.

Overall, the press manufacturing giant seemed optimistic about its future, despite the rise of digital printing and competition to print from e-readers and mobile devices. Executives pointed to strong press sales in emerging markets, like Asia and Africa, where Heidelberg has invested heavily. They also noted growth trends in packaging printing as well as the expansion of the company’s services and consumables areas.

Emerging countries, like China and Brazil, are showing substantial growth in print production volume, executives said. Heidelberg expects this segment to account for 40 percent of global sheetfed volume by 2015, with a corresponding growth in press sales.

The U.S. market, on the other hand, saw a plunge in press sales starting in 2008. Officials noted that U.S. printers maintain some of the oldest offset presses in the world. Because press technology has advanced so much in the past five years, U.S. printers are having trouble competing in the global market against printers with modern technology, official noted. As a result of the lower productivity of the installed base of presses and consolidation in the U.S. printing industry, there has been a 20 percent drop in print production volume in the U.S. since 2006, Heidelberg officials said.

The January issue of IPG will feature a full report on our visit with Heidelberg.

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