Providing practical solutions for Heidelberg users

Meeting and making constructive interactions with the existing customers is one of the essential strategies followed by most of the printing technology providers in order to better understand their emerging requirements. In this line, Stephan Plenz, member of management board, Heidelberg, and Thomas Frank, vice president, sheetfed and postpress, Heidelberg (based in Singapore) recently visited India. Alongwith key personnel of Heidelberg India, Plenz and Frank met many of their customers during this visit; one of the customers being Chennai-based ‘Multivista Global Limited’. D Ramalingam of P&P joined them during their visit to Multivista and put forth some issues being faced by Indian printers, and inquired about the solutions that Heidelberg can offer to help printers combat those problems. Summarised below are the topics and concerns raised and respective responses thereof.

Lack of theoretical knowledge among Indian operators

(L-R) G Ramakrishnan, Klaus Nielsen, Thomas Frank, Stephen Plenz, D Ramalingam, and R Jayaraman.Most of the operators in Indian print-shops lack formal education in printing. Most of them learn on the job and have their own understanding of the process and science behind it. Heidelberg offers on-spot training to the operators. Heidelberg’s service engineers impart basic knowledge required to understand the logic of operations and develop their practical know-how. Klaus Bach Nielsen, managing director, Heidelberg India informed that Heidelberg India’s Print Media Academy (PMA) in Chennai has so far trained over 3,000 operators developing many training courses to help operators hone their skills and knowledge. Frank informed that in a similar and more advanced PMA in Kuala Lumpur, employers (print-shop owners) from across the globe can send their employees for various trainings where they can also interact with fellow colleagues from other countries.

Language problem of local machine operators

Heidelberg India has its offices spread across the country and its service engineers are based in different regions with a capability of communicating in regional language(s). Attempts are made to interact with the operators in their local language(s) as far as possible. Frank also informed that in the past, the instructions shown on the equipments (for example, in Polar cutting machines) were mainly in English or a European language. Operators are not expected to follow these equipments without guidance from the service engineers. To solve this problem, Heidelberg has started using icons as instructions on their equipments. Now, there are no instructions on the equipments in a foreign language but only simple symbols which are easy to understand.

Lack of international body to give guidelines to commercial printers

Besides ISO standard for offset printing, there isn’t much due to the complexity that comes with a peculiar product mix in commercial printing. Moreover, it is not machine specific. To overcome this, Heidelberg’s PMA has worked out a standard which while being based on International Offset Standard is machine specific, shared Nielsen. The Heidelberg engineers study the machine for its age and performance and then set standards for different substrates and parameters. Once set so, the machine can work with lesser or no problems. Additionally, Prinect enables impression to impression study and reduces wastage drastically, he asserted.

Imbalance in press and postpress operations

R Jayaraman, director, Multivista Global Limited pointed out the problem of mismatch in printing and post-printing affecting the smooth workflow and wondered whether any inline configuration would solve this problem. Plenz stated that the speed and productivity of printing and post-printing machines are very different and hence the concern with all the equipment manufacturing brands. He further added that Heidelberg is working on developing solutions in this area. In particular, folders are the major bottlenecks causing this mismatch in the workflow and hence Heidelberg is focusing on improving their Stahl folders, to begin with. To a question about the growth rate in the Indian printing industry, Nielsen indicated it to be 15 percent to 17 percent per annum.

In general, both Plenz and Frank were impressed with the technological advancement in India and they rated the potential growth in India and China to be very high.

Group Publications