Heidelberg is planing to convert part of its vast factory site close to Heidelberg into a business park and to create what the company’s CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer told shareholders at the company’s AGM last week would be the “Heidelberg Digital Campus of Things”.
It is part of the continuing transformation of a business from a manufacturer of printing presses to a provider across the entire eco system of print. While Heidelberg is managing to increase its market share, from 45% to 48%, Hundsdörfer told the meeting, there is little prospect of rapid growth in demand for printing machines manufactured in Germany. Much of the vast factory site will become surplus to requirements.
“We would like to turn our Wiesloch-Walldorf site into an industrial park with mixed use, in which external companies should also settle permanently,” he told shareholders. “The sustainable and future oriented location development of Wiesloch-Walldorf as the ‘Heidelberg Digital Campus of Things’ should become the home base for the future growth of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.”
Designs have already been proposed and put to the local authorities, with a goal of completing the first phase of the work by 2022.
The company has already created an Innovation Centre at the site with 26,000m2 of office and 14,000m2 of laboratory space to replace the R&D centre in the centre of Heidelberg.
In the ongoing transformation, the emphasis will be as much on software development as on press and finishing equipment, perhaps ultimately leading to a split not unlike that HP and Xerox have experienced in recent years as high growth digital and consulting areas have been kept separate from the more legacy equipment focused operations.
Certainly Heidelberg is planning to shed some of its smaller operations, anticipating receipt of €30 million from this activity in the current year. It has been thwarted in attempts to merge its folders business with MBO and platesetter production would appear of minority interest.
There will be use of flexible working arrangements and short time working to cope with fluctuations in demand. But Hundsdörfer insisted that the company’s financial structure was strong, despite a fall in the share price and value of its bonds after warning of disappointing sales for June.
These are not affecting investment in new products, and particularly in the Heidelberg Operating System which will dominate the company’s message leading up to and at Drupa. “The future project HeiOS will provide users with everything they need, and most comfortably: demand management, supply management, print shop management, resource and waste management, big data and so on.”
Rainer Hunsdorfer outlined plans for Heidelberg's next phase with HeiOS and the Heidelberg Digital Campus of Things high on the agenda as the company continues its transition into a digital business.