28 May 2018 Business

Heidelberg shapes future of print's "digital ecosystem" with new operation

The Heidelberg Digital Unit will create the leading platform in cyberspace for communicating with customers and enabling all kinds of interactions.

Heidelberg has called in outside help as it develops the “print media industry’s leading digital ecosystem”.

The Heidelberg Digital Unit will create a single omnichannel platform as a first point of contact for customers, to be the commerce portal for Heidelberg’s Saphira consumables and products from other partners, a news and communication channel to ensure that Heidelberg delivers a consistent approach to all interactions between it and its customers.

It has engaged iQ, a Munich consultancy that is expert in Internet of Things applications, building online and commerce systems. The Heidelberg Digital Unit will employ 50 at the outset, half from iQ and half from Heidelberg.

Ulrich Hermann, Heidelberg board member and chief digital officer, says: “In an initial step, customers can order and pay for all key consumables, services, spares, and wear parts required for print shop operation online on dedicated websites. We’ll gradually be extending the portfolio in the direction of our new digital business models such as the subscription model.”

The company will be able to track all transactions, using data to have the Push to Stop generation press order its own consumables and servicing requirements, alerting users to components that need replacing and comparing performance between presses and other equipment. A future goal will be for the Prinect system to examine the schedule of jobs booked to press and to order the appropriate consumables and even paper for these jobs, without intervention.

Heidelberg has set an objective of reaching sales of €3 billion by 2022 and the increase in consumables and service is key to this. The Smart Print Shop, introduced in 2016, was the first step towards this goal. It is about integrating Heidelberg into all parts of a print company’s business, not just the sale of the press. It has been using performance data collected from machines to improve the productivity of its customers, in turn increasing demand for consumables.

Currently the online shop is generating sales of around €100 million. As these increase the headcount of the Heidelberg Digital Unit will grow. The first focus is on Germany, the US, China and Asia through its Thailand office. It will combine all online activities and increasingly those that have been built around offline interactions to date. The aim will be to give all customers a common experience. However, the company acknowledges the need to reflect local differences including consumable preferences. Heidelberg UK offers a different basket of products to other Heidelberg sales units.

The HDU will also be able to support engineers withe 3D and VR views of the press and elements that need examination or adjustment. This will improve Heidelberg's internal processes as well as delivering an improved service level for customers.

A spokesman for Heidelberg adds: “The HDU is oriented outside the business so that whenever a customers has contact with Heidelberg, either digitally or personally, he has access to all the information he needs and our sales people will know everything that is going on in the customer site.

“This is just the start of the Heidelberg digital journey.”

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Heidelberg launches HDU

Heidelberg launches HDU

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