Heidelberg Increases Press Exports From Chinese Production Operations
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for printing systems, particularly in the Asian core markets, is nearing pre-crisis levels again. The same applies to the production volumes of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) at its site in Shanghai. Accordingly, the company has also progressively increased exports of its printing presses manufactured in China. Since being established in 2005, launching the assembly of postpress systems, and subsequently taking up the production of standard small-format printing presses for the Chinese market, the site now employs some 450 staff and manufactures printing presses for commercial and packaging printing across all standard format classes. Production operations are centered on the 70 × 100 format class, specifically the Speedmaster CD 102 and Speedmaster CS 92 models.
The company is now exporting machinery from its site in Shanghai to more than 40 countries. The main customers besides China are other Asian markets such as Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines. However, the number of Chinese-manufactured machines being exported to Europe – predominantly standard printing presses – is also increasing. For example, Chinese-made presses have been installed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France. In south and central America, countries such as Mexico and Brazil have been placing orders. As a result, the export rate from China is currently at 19 percent and rising.
“Our production at the Chinese site in Shanghai is a success story, not just in terms of the Chinese market, but also and increasingly with regard to the rest of the world,” states Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer. “Already, around one third of all the Heidelberg printing units being manufactured are coming from this plant. Following the rapid economic recovery of the Asian markets from the coronavirus pandemic, our local production operations have proven to be a strategic advantage in overcoming the crisis. As a consequence, we are increasingly able to realize growth opportunities in these regions.”
Established in 1959, Japanese company Ebara Printing Co., Ltd. employs 35 staff and is a longstanding customer of Heidelberg. This multifunctional media service provider, which is also a certified supplier to a global company in the entertainment industry, is meticulous in preparing its investment decisions and lays down strict criteria. Based on detailed market analyses, Ebara has transformed its product portfolio, moving away from classic business and office stationery to become more of a solutions provider for packaging printing. The key to its success has been its ability to meet wide-ranging product requirements with substrates in thicknesses from 0.03mm to 1.0 mm and print on materials from cardboard to PP and PET plastics.
To achieve these capabilities, Ebara invested in a Speedmaster CD 102 with UV technology in 2004, which it procured from Germany. In May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the print shop installed its second Speedmaster CD 102-5+L, which this time had been manufactured in China. The new acquisition replaced two older Speedmaster presses. While the first press is now primarily dedicated to cardboard production, the new CD 102-5+L is exhibiting its full versatility. As well as printing plastics, it is also being used to print card during peak periods, when it helps ease the strain on the first press.
“Before we decided to invest, we very carefully scrutinized every aspect of the new Speedmaster CD 102. In the end, we were very impressed by the technological advances in evidence on the press. We succeeded in significantly boosting our productivity and we are also benefitting from considerable flexibility with regard to substrates,” explains Akinori Furukawa, Managing Director of Ebara: “We are confident that, with the new Speedmaster CD 102 and with Heidelberg as a partner, we will continue to enhance our competitiveness.”
In 2018, Bunkado Printing Co., Ltd., which is based in the Japanese city of Odawara, became the first Japanese print shop to install a Chinese-manufactured Speedmaster CD 102 with UV technology from Heidelberg. This meant the company was now running a total of three Speedmaster presses with UV technology in the 70 × 100 format class. The latest investment replaced a 17-year-old Speedmaster CD 102, enabling the company to double its original productivity. This and the flexibility of the press are essential conditions for Bunkado’s expansion into the growing packaging market. As a result, highly flexible and quality-focused sheetfed offset printing is becoming the company’s second mainstay alongside web offset printing.
Kazuto Nakanishi, Managing Director of Bunkado Printing: “As the peak season was drawing closer, we needed a new printing press with UV technology fast. Heidelberg, therefore, offered us a Speedmaster CD 102 from its Chinese production site, which was available at short notice. Before we concluded the purchase agreement, we saw the Heidelberg factory in Shanghai for ourselves and were deeply impressed by the state-of-the-art and professional manufacturing operations there. That is what won us over and we have certainly not regretted our decision. The print quality, productivity, and reliability of the press meet the same exceptional standards that we have come to expect from Heidelberg presses that have been made in Germany.”