World’s most advanced printing industry research center opens
Heidelberg is setting new competitive standards in the global printing industry. By opening its new Innovation Center (IVC) at the Wiesloch-Walldorf headquarters in Baden-Württemberg, the company is stepping up its efforts to maintain its technology leadership and shape the digital transformation process in the printing sector.
In addition to securing numerous jobs, the new Innovation Center also substantiates a recent analysis published in October by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva, which concluded that the innovative capability of Germany is superior to any other country in the world, including the United States. Only by investing over 100 million euros in research and development every year has Heidelberg succeeded in emerging stronger from years of structural change in the industry in these times of digital transformation.
‘With its Innovation Center, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is demonstrating how a company can use the signs of the times to shape its future. Throughout its history, the company has always combined a traditional engineering culture with innovative technologies. This dovetailing is a vital factor in today’s opening of the printing industry’s most advanced research facility,’ said Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, who went on to call the newly opened Innovation Center a leading light of mechanical engineering in Baden-Württemberg.
Over 1000 staff will immediately start working on the digital future of Heidelberg and the printing industry at the new centre. Newspaper and magazine printing is in decline due to structural factors, but that is not the core business of Heidelberg. Due primarily to packaging and label printing, the industry as a whole is growing and generates annual sales exceeding 400 billion euros. Heidelberg is also increasingly unlocking new market segments outside the graphic arts industry, such as electric mobility.
‘Germany’s mechanical engineering prowess is highly rated worldwide and we are still the number one in this field. The purpose of our new think tank is to ensure we continue to build on our technology leadership in the future – and that includes the digitization of the print media industry,’ said Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer. By investing some 50 million euros in the new Innovation Center, Heidelberg is aiming to gain a clear edge over its competitors around the globe in the future. It has also helped Germany overtake Switzerland as Europe’s most competitive national economy and become the third most competitive country in the world.
‘Digitisation in particular requires totally new forms of collaboration. With its Innovation Center, Heidelberg is responding to the challenges posed by a transformation process that is currently sweeping through every sector. Here in Baden-Württemberg, where cutting-edge technology, precision, and absolute reliability are an integral part of our history and culture, the Heidelberg IVC is a shining example of how digital transformation can succeed. By systematically networking various working levels, the center is setting new standards in communication and agility,’ emphasised Kretschmann.
The new Innovation Center also marks the beginning of a new era for staff in terms of their working environment. It uses ultra-modern, innovative practices, with teamwork, communication, work at different locations, and a combination of personal workstations and communication zones ensuring a pleasant, creative atmosphere. ‘The IVC is now “Open for Innovation” and marks the start of a new approach to work at Heidelberg,’ explained Head of Research & Development Frank Kropp. From developing an idea, securing a patent, and creating a digital twin all the way through to approving individual components and the product as a whole, the entire development process takes place within the same four walls.
The building concept aims to make communication/teamwork between employees as easy as possible. In addition to personal workstations, for example, there are also office environments without any fixed assignment, relaxed seating areas, and even options for working outdoors to encourage teamwork. What’s more, digital reviews are possible thanks to interactive monitors. A bistro, various break areas, and kitchens for making coffee are available to employees and guests alike. There are also numerous zones where people can take themselves off to work in peace and quiet.
The project to convert a former production hall where around 500 staff worked into an Innovation Center for over 1 000 employees is a world first. A total gross area of around 40 000 square metres at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site now includes a state-of-the-art office area totaling some 26 000 square meters and approximately 14 000 square metres for laboratories and testing. The office area comprises 13 sections, each accommodating 80 staff, and a space of around 3700 square meters has been set aside for the 43 laboratories alone. “The new center is an innovation platform geared to communication and transparency, which makes it the key to a change in culture at Heidelberg and also a symbol of this change,’ concluded Stephan Plenz, member of the Heidelberg Management Board responsible for Technology.