Heidelberg Increases Focus on the Chinese Market

Heidelberg Increases Focus on the Chinese Market

The packaging market is growing: according to the Smithers Pira 2019 study “The Future of Global Packaging to 2024”, the total value of the global packaging volume for 2019 was almost $920 billion, and this is expected to grow at an average rate of 2.8% annually to over $1 trillion by 2024. The study regards thereby the volume for the materials board, flexible packaging, rigid plastics, metal and glass. Asia was the biggest market in 2018, accounting for around 40% of global packaging consumption, followed by North America with around 22%, and Western Europe in third place with 20%.

China is the world’s biggest packaging consumer, at over $200 billion. It is also forecast to have the fastest growth in packaging consumption over the five-year period from 2019 to 2024, with a rate of almost 5%. This is due to the rising real take-home pay, an expanding middle class, a growing population, the increasing urbanization, and further expansion of E-commerce.

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is clearly focusing on this high market potential. The company is ideally positioned in the growing field of folding carton printing on board worldwide and in China in particular. “The Chinese market, which is so important for us, is the one where demand has returned fastest and closest to that of the previous year during the pandemic,” confirms CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer. “The long-term prospects look good too. China is still the fastest-growing market in the world. Our market share of about 50 percent puts us out in front here, and we want to consolidate our strong position even further. Therefore we will further expand our production capacities in Shanghai and increase our competitiveness there with a higher share of value added. As well as local production, Heidelberg China will also provide assistance with a strong sales and service team. We have our sights firmly set on the successful packaging printing companies above all.”

Heidelberg offers its solutions in the growth market of packaging for the folding carton printing and label segments. Covid-19 has accelerated the evolution towards digital communication and events more at local level. For example, Heidelberg China held a combined in-person and online event at the end of September with the Packaging Day. The goal was to show the folding carton printers the enormous productivity potential that can be exploited with intelligent high-performance machines and optimized processes.

This is the answer to the market trends in the Chinese packaging printing industry, such as ever declining run lengths and increasing expectations for finishing. With this in mind, Heidelberg presented its comprehensive portfolio for the entire production process.

On site in the Print Media Center (PMC) Shanghai, 65 customers got to see four different applications being produced with more than ten live demonstrations on a Speedmaster CD-102 nine-color press. Highlights here were the high-speed job changes and the sophisticated finishings that add a lot of value to packagings. These premium packagings are especially popular in China. Prepared and streamed customer reports from the various regions of China showed the solutions in use in real life, and thus how much the customers trust in and rate the Heidelberg machines.

In parallel, the live demonstrations and customer reports were also presented on two live streaming platforms, that were clicked by over 108,000 viewers. The platforms in question are Douyin (China’s TikTok) and Mudu. Mudu links can be easily exchanged in the WeChat ecosystem and in this way complete communication across all channels. The event got almost 70,000 likes.

“In the Greater China market we will invest more in new concepts, platforms, and applications as well as in regional events in order to guarantee more direct communication with the customer,” confirmed Benny Huang, CEO of Heidelberg Greater China. “The Packaging Day enabled us to present our innovations effectively online and offline, and communicate instantly with our customers. We couldn’t be happier with the positive result: nearly 20 opportunities about sheetfed presses with a total value of almost 12 million euros, three of these opportunities came over the online platforms.”

In 2020, Sichuan Kuanzhai Printing Co. Ltd. (Kuanzhai), one of the leading Chinese tobacco packaging printers, expanded its print capacity with the construction of a new factory in Suining. As part of this, the company placed an order with Heidelberg China for two Speedmaster CX 102 presses with a total of 23 printing units. The first of these is set to be installed this year still, in December.

For Kuanzhai, this is its first time partnering with Heidelberg. What clinched the deal were the innovations and technology of the 2020 generation of the Speedmaster CX 102 with Push to Stop concept. This should increase productivity to a level where the factory in Suining can produce over one million cartons annually. The company mainly prints premium tobacco packagings.

Kuanzhai uses competition presses in its plant in Deyang.

The Shenzhen Jinjia Group has been working with Heidelberg for more than twenty years already. Jinjia is one of China’s leading packaging printing companies, and services the high-end market with prestigious brands in the tobacco, liqueur, spirits, and cosmetics segments. The customers have very high expectations here regarding the development and innovation designs of new products. 

Two Speedmaster CD 102-6+L presses built in the Heidelberg Shanghai factory were therefore installed in 2017 and 2019. Both presses are specifically used for the development of new printed products and color proofs in Jinjia’s development center.

All printing presses at the headquarters in Shenzhen and in the other branches are customized long Speedmaster CX 102 and CD 102 machines, designed together with Jinjia and tailored to the needs of the end customers.

The printing company Xian Jun Long in Shenzhen took delivery this year of a new Speedmaster CD 102-9+L featuring the 9,999th printing unit produced by the Heidelberg Shanghai site. Xian Jun Long is one of the leading packaging printing companies in China, and specializes in packagings for spirits, cigarettes, and luxury goods. The partnership between Xian Jun Long and Heidelberg goes back twenty years – and the Speedmaster CD 102 with the machine number 999 from the Shanghai plant has also been in production there for a number of years. Xian Jun Long is set to take delivery of two further Speedmaster CD 102-8+L presses this year. The anniversary press will take its place in an extensive fleet of Speedmaster CD 102 and Speedmaster CX 102 systems (see also press release dated June 25, 2020).

The Heidelberg Shanghai production site is built to modern standards, and now encompasses a production area of around 45,000 square meters, making it one of the biggest printing press factories in Asia based on square footage. “At the moment we’re not seeing any more knock-on effects of Covid-19 on the factory’s capacity utilization,” explains Achim Mergenthaler, head of the Heidelberg Shanghai site. “The safety measures we implemented meant we were one of the first factories in Shanghai to resume operation in mid-February. Even the supply of parts from our suppliers was fully back on track from the end of February. In February and March we had a number of fixed date machines on the schedule, all of which we were able to deliver on time. Since then we’ve gradually gotten back to steady work and normal life in Shanghai.”

The factory is operating to full capacity and the production figures for the last quarter of 2020 are actually higher than last year. The export quota for this year is also higher than last year, with a high rate of exports to Japan, for example. This includes the first Speedmaster CD 102 eight-color press with coating unit outside of China.

The bestseller is the Speedmaster CD 102 . Around 60 to 70% of these are used for packaging printing. The long coating unit presses are particularly well received in the Chinese market. “We’ve ramped up here from year to year – we started in 2018 with the delivery of the first Speedmaster CD 102-7+L, this was followed a year later by the Speedmaster CD 102-8+L, and this year by the Speedmaster CD 102-9+L, which was delivered to the printing company Xian Jun Long in Shenzhen. From 2018 to today, over 80 of these long packaging presses from the Speedmaster CD 102 series have been produced and sold,” reports Achim Mergenthaler.

Heidelberg partners with Masterwork, Tianjin, (MK) for the postpress machines in the packaging segment. MK is the largest manufacturer of die cutters, embossing machines, and hot foil machines in the Asian region. For the packaging market, MK developed several new machines and Heidelberg has already sold more than 500 of them worldwide – die-cutters and folder gluers. The portfolio is constantly being extended to meet the growing needs of the customers.

The relationship was further strengthened in 2019, with MK Masterwork becoming a long-term, strategic anchor shareholder in Heidelberg with a shareholding of around 8.5%. This will enable Heidelberg to further expand its position in the growing packaging printing market with MK.

The recently announced joint venture with Masterwork will further strengthen Heidelberg´s leading competitive position in the growth market of China.

Chris Fernando

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