Of course, when he opened the first day of OPS with his keynote speech, he could not have known that drupa 2020 would be cancelled. The content of the keynote speech was aimed at the upcoming major events in the industry.
Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, outlined his vision of how print must function in the future. Simultaneously, he pointed out the hurdles still to be overcome by the industry in order to master the next stage of the print evolution. He shared his vision of the new “DNA for Print” exclusively, and for the first time publicly, with the participants of OPS 2020.
Of course, Hundsdörfer did not miss the opportunity to address the current economic situation of the company in his keynote speech, which has recently been severely torn apart by the German business press. “Heidelberg is far from collapsing, even if there are strange articles wandering the scene,” said Hundsdörfer. With a global market share of 42% in sheetfed offset presses, Heidelberg is more than relevant to the market and can still be seen as a technology leader, he stated. He added that the company’s range of products has long gone beyond pure mechanical engineering and now includes the consistent digitalization and automation of all production processes.
“Our path forward is to take the next step towards the smart print shop, and then move from the smart print shop to the smart print media industry,” said Hundsdörfer. However, this would require clarifying a few questions and seeking answers: How do I process more and more jobs in the shortest possible time? How do I achieve consistently high productivity regardless of the operator? Where do I even get the personnel from? How do I further advance the digitization of processes? And how do I automate supplier and customer management?
His answer to this bundle of questions: “Push-to-Stop – from prepress to the ramp. This is because process automation creates more productivity and digitization creates better cooperation between man and machine.”
However, individual modules for increasing efficiency and productivity alone have not been sufficient to take the leap towards the smart printing industry. A unifying, global and agile platform that opens up and makes use of all these technologies must be created for cooperative work in a network of customers, printers, fulfilment partners and logistics. “But we can’t do this on our own,” admitted Hundsdörfer. “It must be a cross-vendor project with a uniform access for all systems, with a standardized data format, a uniform interface, IoT machine data acquisition and Vendor Managed Inventory” (the supplier-controlled inventory management of consumables).
He made it clear that finding a common data exchange format will be a huge task. “We know that JDF doesn’t work,” said Hundsdörfer (incidentally, Heidelberg played a major role in the development of JDF). “Our vision is a central platform for automated supplier and customer management that connects all partners involved in the value chain,” argued Hundsdörfer. There is no question that such a project is quite visionary. So, let us be surprised with what will become of this vision.