Metamor[e]phosis is Inherent to Our DNA

The desire for further development is part of human nature. Striving for more means thinking beyond known realms. It means transcending boundaries and being open for new things. Small changes can be the starting point for a major transformation – and vice versa. Today, it is perhaps more important than ever before to demonstrate adaptability. Energy shortages, climate crisis and social injustices influence our daily lives and pose the challenge of finding ways to achieve a healthy balance.

At the end of 2021, with Exceeding Print, we defined the strategy with which we aim to achieve sustainable, ecologically compatible growth as a globally active company. Going beyond just print means doing more – but not in the sense of additional production. Instead, it is a question of continuous optimisation. By enhancing printing processes and machines with digital solutions, we are enabling both our customers and ourselves to become more agile and more efficient, and thus also to be more sparing in our use of natural resources. By focussing our innovative strength on eco-friendly, sustainable technologies, we are helping to safeguard the future of the print industry and of society as a whole. By promoting the development of modular engineering and standardised systems, we are exploiting synergies that permit us and our customers to work more effectively and flexibly.

From tradition to innovation
Koenig & Bauer has had to redefine itself and adapt to new circumstances on multiple occasions over the more than 200 years since it was founded. The fact that the company has not simply survived diverse economic, political and social upheavals, and has actually mastered these challenges successfully, is impressive proof of the adaptability inherent to our DNA. What began with the manufacture of newspaper presses in the 19th century has undergone unceasing further development in the form of new technologies and fields of application. We today possess expertise in practically all printing technologies and offer suitable machines and software solutions for the entire process of printing, finishing and conversion. This broad diversification means that we can rely on our strong roots and draw significant synergy benefits.

With the strategy Exceeding Print, we have set the course for numerous measures aimed at enabling us – and our customers – to think and act beyond printing alone. The objective is clear, and results from the three pillars of this strategy: we will become more stable, more digital and more modular. And this is something that we have to do, because the whole world is in a state of flux and adaptability is today more important than ever before.

A Company with Strong Roots

Metamor[e]phosis through Modularity…
…because the whole is [more] than the sum of its parts.

Individualisation is one of today’s megatrends, with an impact on all levels of society and thus on companies, institutions and individuals in equal measure. In the print industry, this is manifested in the increasing variance in print jobs and an ever shorter time-to-market demanded of our customers. Koenig & Bauer is rising to the associated challenges with modular and standardised systems.

Numerous solution options and application possibilities exist across the Group and can be used to maximise customer benefit. Our first concrete step towards modularity is a system of modular automation features. This opens up new opportunities to enhance customer value using two paths of optimisation. On the one hand, we want to shorten the time-to-market for customer-optimised products. The entire process, from the initial idea through to the production machinery, should function as efficiently as possible – making full use of all the innovative applications and technical capabilities that Koenig & Bauer has to offer, including the tailored configuration options that this brings for our customers. On the other hand, a clear modular product structure accelerates innovation, increases product and spare part availability, and reduces the risk of breakdown.

Our machines have benefited from constant further development over the past years. Automation processes and the new possibilities opened up by digitalisation have enabled once purely mechanical machines to be fitted with increasing numbers of direct drives and sensors. It has never been easier to track the operating status of our machines and vast quantities of data can be retrieved, which in turn translates into significant cost-saving potential for our customers – through performance monitoring and efficient troubleshooting. Hardware and software are today inseparably interwoven, and software builds a bridge between machine and user. But even more importantly: software enables us, as the manufacturer, to become part of this bridge. It becomes possible, for example, not only to retrieve data from the machine, but also to enter data as control commands – in the form of updates, the enabling of performance features, etc. In other words, we can not only ‘read’, but also ‘write’, and can thereby continue to optimise our machines in their individual application settings.

Alongside digital business models, there is also significant interface potential at the design stage, because this is where solutions from all the different segments can be identified and brought together. Especially valuable for us, as a globally active company with production locations throughout Europe, is the catalyst effect for collaboration between the different segments. The resources that are freed up in this way can be put to constructive use in new areas, for example to further accelerate processes through expansion of our Operational Excellence Team and to develop cost-saving opportunities.

In addition, the modular press platform enables new technologies to be brought to the market faster. Spare parts warehousing is similarly being simplified and we can guarantee enhanced availability, which is in the end again a positive effect for our customers.

Metamor[e]phosis through Sustainability…
…because there is still so much [more] to discover.

2022 was the warmest year since records began. Climate change is in full swing – and it is high time that we all act sustainably in every way possible. Political decisions and concepts such as the European Green Deal are important milestones for environmental protection and more sustainable industry. At the same time, such initiatives also represent a major challenge for companies. To master the challenge adequately, Koenig & Bauer has set up a separate group-level department to deal with this specific topic and to explore the possibilities for all business units. Alongside the question as to what the company itself can do to operate more sustainably, this places a particular focus on how Koenig & Bauer can support its customers in their efforts to establish eco-friendly and sustainable production.

We are continually assessing options to reduce our own energy consumption and emissions, and implement these measures wherever possible. We aim to reach full carbon neutrality in terms of Scope 1 and 2 emissions at all our manufacturing locations from 2030 on. Thanks to an investment in modern, more energy-efficient furnaces that emit less CO2, the company’s own foundry is already operating much more sustainably. Power consumption has been reduced by investing in highly efficient LED-based lighting with automatic daylight control. Since 2021, all the major Koenig & Bauer group locations are being supplied with green electricity. In addition, photovoltaic systems have been installed at the Würzburg and Radebeul facilities.

Sustainable waste management is an important aspect of responsible resource use. In all areas of the company, and especially in our metalworking centres, we ensure careful sorting of all production materials wherever this is feasible, and realise every opportunity for recycling. To meet – or preferably exceed – the expectations and needs of our customers, Koenig & Bauer machines and processes are designed for maximum resource efficiency. That begins with the possibility of continuous operation. Our machines run 24/7 on 365 days of the year. The higher the utilisation, the lower the number of restarts – and that has a direct impact on energy and resource consumption. The trend towards ever shorter print runs with frequent stops and starts is rather counter-productive in this context, but can be compensated – to some extent at least – by the use of more efficient drive technologies, regular maintenance and trained operators.

A medium-format sheetfed offset press in packaging printing applies around 500 tonnes of ink to up to 8,500 tonnes of paper each year – and that’s just a single press! The leverage effect of an increase in efficiency by only a few percentage points is enormous. The minimisation of start-up waste is therefore one of the aspects that could produce significant savings, especially against the background of an increasing number of job changeovers. Furthermore, the innovation drivers at Koenig & Bauer are concentrating on solutions to achieve ultimate quality with reduced ink consumption.

To lower the power consumption of machines in production at our customers, we have developed special dryers that recirculate and re-use the heated air in the drying process. The result: savings of up to 30 per cent. By placing a focus on water-based, food-safe coatings and inks, the company is at the same time demonstrating that it has the overall process in mind – in the interests of consistent recycling management.

Metamor[e]phosis through Digitalisation…
…because the future is [more] than impressive.

Expanding beyond the pure process of printing – this may sound radical for a company with a long tradition in printing press manufacture, but it is the only logical step to secure a future in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. If we view the developments of the last ten years, it can be said that digitalisation has posed numerous challenges – but it is, at the same time, the greatest motivator of our times. It forces us to reconsider conventions and in this way to become more agile. Networking machines, capturing and analysing data, and controlling data efficiently: there are many aspects to digital transformation in the print industry – and we are right at the heart of these momentous changes.

Our customers profit from an increasingly holistic service portfolio that bridges the divide between the analogue and digital worlds. Transparent, data-assisted processes are the starting point for more efficiency and cost-effectiveness. A high level of automation minimises risks and facilitates customisation of a future-oriented printing process. Press data, for example, can be displayed in real time at any given moment using cloud technologies. This provides an enormous benefit to our customers, as it enables them to optimise their production or to detect potential problems before they actually take effect.

The use of augmented technology permits us to optimise technical support by enabling the highly targeted visualisation of specific components or areas of a press. That not only makes global service easier, but also opens up a whole new range of opportunities. If we leave aside the supposed conflict between the analogue and digital worlds and acknowledge that they can both learn from each other, it very quickly becomes evident that digitalisation yields previously undiscovered potential. If fewer business trips and on-site service visits are necessary thanks to digital support capabilities, this is not only an important contribution to climate protection, but also makes the profession of service technician more attractive once more – especially with regard to the compatibility of family and career.

Another example of how well digitalisation and sustainability go hand in hand is the new digital energy management system VisuEnergy X. This platform enables the continuous monitoring and complete documentation of energy data and thus lays the foundations for successful energy management. The visualisation of consumption trends and data from specific consumers enables the user to localise the greatest potential for energy savings. This allows us to provide our customers with a digital solution that helps them to produce more efficiently and more sustainably.

For us as a traditional manufacturing company, digitalisation does, of course, mean rethinking the way we work – and that in all areas of our business. Establishing and a continuous expansion of a networked organisation with all the necessary processes and methods requires a reappraisal of existing structures. We view that as a valuable opportunity to reaffirm and advance our further development as an agile technology provider.

Metamor[e]phosis through Partnerships…
…because we can achieve [more] together.

Koenig & Bauer in 2022 is so much more than Koenig & Bauer was in 1817, 1922 or 1988 – for which credit belongs not least to all our business segments and subsidiaries, whose specific know-how has opened up new markets for the group. The bundling of knowledge and technologies gives us a significant edge and enables us to identify and respond adequately to the broadest demands in good time.

Koenig & Bauer Celmacch
Following the granting of official approval for a foreign direct investment (FDI) in Italy, acquisition of 49 per cent of the shares in the Italian Celmacch Group S.r.l. by Koenig & Bauer AG marked the start of a further partnership in September 2022. Together, we combine over 40 years of experience in the corrugated printing and converting market and more than 200 years of printing technology on a wide range of substrates. This strengthens our presence on the growth market for corrugated board machinery.

Celmacch brings not only an established name, but above all comprehensive expertise and progressive technologies for the growth market for corrugated board, a segment that Koenig & Bauer also addresses with existing presses of its own. Ever since the relaunch of the Chroma product family in 2019 in particular, Celmacch has built up an excellent standing on the European market as a developer and manufacturer of high board line flexo presses and rotary die-cutters satisfying exacting technological demands, and has already supplied many of the major international packaging producers, primarily on its local markets.

With the joint Chroma product family, Koenig & Bauer Celmacch is now able to offer customers an extensive portfolio of machines covering all price and performance classes. The Chroma Smart series represents a competitive starting point for ventures in the world of modular rotary die-cutters and flexo presses, while the Chroma High Tech models satisfy demands for high levels of automation. The Chroma X Pro series (formerly the CorruCUT and CorruFLEX presses) stands for high performance in the production of both die-cut corrugated boxes and printed corrugated sheets, and defines new standards in terms of automation and performance.

Partnerships as a catalyst for further development
Koenig & Bauer is today characterised by an immensely broad product portfolio with machines and software solutions for the entire process of printing, finishing and conversion. To achieve this, the Group has attached great importance to developing partnerships that enable successful expansion into new markets for many years now. Over the past three decades, this has seen three segments be established to cater to specific production requirements, for example for banknote printing, the decoration of metal sheets and hollow containers, or marking and coding applications. In this respect, it could be said that the Koenig & Bauer Group itself comprises different modules, whose unique composition offers enormous potential for technological progress and economic advances through the utilisation of synergy effects.

Metamor[e]phosis through Business Models…
…because our business is [more] than business as usual.

Koenig & Bauer is more than just a manufacturer of high-tech machines and systems that are tailored specifically to the requirements of our customers. We view ourselves as a supplier of complete solutions – which is why our portfolio also includes a comprehensive range of services geared to integrated workflows. Whether we are talking about maintenance and inspections, training and consulting, or spare parts and intelligent software to advance digital transformation: Koenig & Bauer is a reliable partner who understands and accompanies the full print process.

To ensure that we are able to preserve this standing in the future, it is necessary to explore new business models and to diversify our products and services. We are responding to the dynamic new challenges of our industry with innovative, future-oriented ideas. Their implementation is dependent on the introduction of new technologies and in particular adequate internal structures, some of which must first be created or rethought. It is only through long-term investment in the relevant areas that sustainable results can be achieved. This is true of both financial means and personnel resources, because we count on the support of our employees when it comes to working with new technologies. At the same time, we want to inspire their enthusiasm for the [further] developments from the very beginning – building genuine commitment through transparent communication.

It goes without saying that market research also plays an important role in regard to business models and the exploration of new opportunities for our company. We aim to spot trends as they emerge, so as to be able to adapt our products to changing needs. We are currently recording the largest proportion of our sales in packaging printing, a segment that is probably more diverse than any other. Even as the demand for ‘green’, bio-compatible and sustainable packaging solutions based on corresponding printing and coding technologies continues to increase, the market for sophisticated packaging with highly refined finishing remains equally stable. The partnership with Celmacch is in this respect a significant competitive advantage.

Metamor[e]phosis through Our Employees…
…because the [more] we engage, the smarter we work together.

Social change is especially tangible in the field of personnel management. The attitudes and expectations of employees have evolved significantly in recent decades. This statement is hardly a revelation – ‘work-life balance’ and ‘new work’ are the buzzwords on everyone’s lips. From the corporate perspective, it is crucial to reconcile the new priorities of the workforce with business objectives.

Flexible working hours are an increasingly significant factor, but pose challenges for many companies. In recent years, Koenig & Bauer has also had to consider how new concepts such as mobile working, individual agreements on working hours, sabbaticals, job sharing and the like can be incorporated efficiently into company and production structures. In line withour corporate culture, a continuous dialogue was started to elaborate both individual and overarching solutions.

At the end of the day, business success is dependent on the motivation of our workforce. Employees who sense that they are being heard and appreciated are more committed in their jobs and adopt the company’s goals as their own. By opening ourselves to the needs of both current and potential employees, we are able to attract specialists and talents to the group and kindle their sustained enthusiasm. In this way, we secure the quality of our products and services – and thus indirectly also the satisfaction of our customers.

Another important aspect that illustrates the development of Koenig & Bauer and its focus on personnel matters is a result of the process of digitalisation and its impact on our companies. To master today’s new challenges and to be able to develop and offer adequate products and services, it is, of course, essential for companies to secure the services of appropriately qualified specialists. Here, too, we aim to act sustainably and will continue to train new talent ourselves, in addition to direct talent scouting on the job market. In 2022, for example, a specialisation in ‘Electronics technician for automation systems’ was added to the portfolio of our in-house vocational training school. The number of trainee places has also been increased significantly: at the Würzburg and Radebeul locations alone, 60 additional places were advertised in 2022 (for training to commence in September 2023).

Last but not least, the continued development of the group as a whole is also indivisible from the continued development of our employees. Accordingly, we will continue to attach great importance to personal and professional training opportunities at Koenig & Bauer. The Koenig & Bauer Academy was again able to expand and optimise its catalogue in 2022. The comprehensive and diverse training courses are designed so that quite literally every employee – from the shop floor to the management offices – will find the perfect tools to match their needs. A measure that represents an investment in the future and sustainability of the company, because each individual knowledge gain moves us forward as a collective and enables us to make better even use of arising synergies.