Ferdinand Ruesch, vice president of the Gallus Board of Directors, and Christof Naier, vice president of sales, marketing and services, Gallus, sat down with L&NW to discuss how Heidelberg’s control will positively impact customers of both brands.
“Gallus has a very established network, but companies today are getting bigger and the customers are getting more demanding,” said Ruesch. “Heidelberg has companies in France and Spain and Italy that would like to get the same quality service. And for a company like Heidelberg, we will be able to supply that level of service around the world. It’s really an opportunity for a mid-sized company to be a global player, and these are things we could not do before.”
“The main goal of this whole integration is that we’re completely aligned with Heidelberg management,” added Naier. “We want to move all people from Gallus to their respective Heidelberg organization. We did that in Asia with a lot of people, and this is all a people business. It was very successful.”
The Gallus teams in the field are currently working under the Heidelberg umbrella, but the products will continue to be property of Gallus. Customers in the future will call Heidelberg for support, so clients in the US with a Gallus press will contact Heidelberg US.
The full transition, including employee cross-training, is expected to be completed by April 1, 2018. “Our goal is to have experienced staff, train new staff, and cross-train existing staff,” explained Naier. “We want to use all these Heidelberg facilities and service management that we at Gallus could never offer. Heidelberg has a 24/7 call center in the US where you place your service requests and they can ship the parts in a much quicker time period than we can.”
According to Ruesch, Heidelberg has nearly 11,500 employees while Gallus entered the deal with about 500. The merger will allow Gallus to provide its customers a depth of service that it could not previously offer. There are 400 engineers at Heidelberg working on digital alone, representing about 50% of the company’s investment in the technology. At any given time, there will be 800 engineers working on new product development, debugging technologies and introducing new ones.
“We are quite happy and we see already that we are selling presses to customers that we would not have sold without Heidelberg,” said Naier. “When it comes to digital, we learned one of the most crucial aspects is prepress. The quality of printing is pretty much defined by the prepress, and Heidelberg has this knowledge. We would never be able to have a prepress team in the US the same size as Heidelberg has. They have the knowledge, and they have the tools.”
Heidelberg has been instrumental in helping Gallus develop its latest technologies. Gallus launched its new 17” press, the Labelmaster, at Innovation Days in St. Gallen, Switzerland during September 2016. The company plans to showcase it at Labelexpo Europe 2017, ready for sale, in Brussels, Belgium. Several machines have already been installed in Europe, as well as Mexico and Russia. “The main advantage, as we see it, is you can customize the press according to your needs,” explained Naier. “If you need a simple press where you do standard labels with six colors only, it can do that. On the other hand, you can print very complex labels where you change from screen to flexo to diecutting.”
Meanwhile, the ECS 340, now in its fourth generation, features stability and reliability, and it comes with the latest curing system from GEW. The RCS r2 has shorter web paths and a faster setup because of the modified offset unit, which is a result of Gallus’ cooperation with Heidelberg due to the latter’s expertise in offset printing.
During Labelexpo Europe, Gallus will take part in the unveiling of Heidelberg Assistant. This tool allows the customer to go online in real time and check the status of a request. Heidelberg Assistant will also provide real-time access to production data. A manager can access any mobile device to see what’s going on in the pressroom such as the speed and output of running label presses.
“At Labelexpo, we will also show this e-call function, where the customers don’t need to call us if they have a problem,” explained Naier. “The machine calls us and sends us a log file so our technicians can look into the file and see what’s wrong, and then we call the customer. Heidelberg is doing this already. They have the capability, for example, to gauge the power measure of servo motors and compare it with the other motors on the press. Then you can get the message that your No. 3 motor is consuming more energy, so please go and check it because maybe there is something wrong. This is the way we want to go and we’re working very hard on this.
“You go into this measure of predictive maintenance instead of waiting until you have a failure on the press,” he added. “You realize something is going in the wrong direction, so you do it proactively. You can plan the service intervention.”
Ruesch added that collaborating under the same umbrella allows Gallus and Heidelberg to reach new customers with greater efficiency. R&D will improve, and Gallus can start reaching customers in parts of the world where they rarely conducted business.
“Our customers are getting bigger and bigger,” said Ruesch. “Consolidation goes on and usually they like to deal with a company that is globally present. Customers like stability and they like to have a partner that is a certain size. And in the end, what do the customers want? They want to have a productive machine.”