Koenig & Bauer is continuing to proceed with its transformation from a traditional manufacturer of machinery into an agile technology group. Using global megatrends and intense discussions with customers and industry experts as a basis, the company has defined its strategic direction for the next few years. The course it is already taking towards more digitalization and a higher degree of modularity will not only lead to more success in Koenig & Bauer’s core business markets, with packaging printing at the forefront – it will also result in less material and energy being used in printing processes, making them more sustainable.
In addition, Koenig & Bauer is also setting itself sustainability goals that are even more ambitious with its new Group strategy, ‘Exceeding Print’. Along with its responsibility towards its customers and employees, as a member of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative, the Group aims to increase even further its efforts to deliver on its ecological, social and community responsibilities.
“By 2025, we are aiming to reduce CO2 emissions in our production plants by 75 per cent, and intend to be completely carbon-neutral from 2030 on,” as CEO Dr Andreas Pleßke announced. “As the industry’s leading provider of sustainable solutions, we help our customers to reduce their ecological footprint. Solutions based on technology that we developed reduce energy consumption, cut waste, and decrease ink and coating consumption, helping to cut CO2 emissions.”
Koenig & Bauer uses an energy management system to prepare the ground for its customers to be more energy efficient in printing operations, and helps them to point their production processes in a sustainable direction. As a member of the 4evergreen Alliance network, Koenig & Bauer can start working with manufacturers of paper and cardboard, folding carton producers, brand owners, technology and material suppliers, along with the collection, sorting and recycling industry, at an early stage to find appropriate solutions. Koenig & Bauer maintains a partnership with ClimatePartner to promote efforts to compensate CO2 emissions by supporting certified projects to protect the climate. Moreover, the company is a partner in the ‘BlueCompetence’ sustainability initiative that is run by the VDMA, and is the first manufacturer of printing machinery to become a member of the ‘Healthy Printing’ network.
Koenig & Bauer is the only manufacturer of machinery worldwide to master all industrial printing process on all substrates in its core markets. Customers benefit from a wide range of products, the experience, and the technical expertise that the company has built up over the more than 200 years of its history. As the oldest manufacturer of printing machinery in the world, Koenig & Bauer has always considered its role to be that of an industry pioneer and an innovative force.
A modular platform for future machine generations offers customers any number of advantages. “Not only are new technologies ready for the market more quickly, but integrated control of machines and systems, and the standardisation of maintenance become possible,” as executive board member and COO Michael Ulverich accentuates. “The modular principle ensures that the customers continue to benefit from tailor-made solutions. The standardisation of a number of elements opens up more opportunities for innovation and individualisation – while maintaining the same high quality at the same time.” Koenig & Bauer intends to maintain its entrepreneurial independence in future by retaining a high level of vertical integration – from the smallest gearwheel to complex units.
In addition to machines, digital services are becoming increasingly important for networking machines with each other, collecting and analysing data, and controlling processes efficiently. Koenig & Bauer develops digital services based on highly scalable cloud platforms and makes them available to customers via a portal for collaboration. The analysis of machine data forms the basis for evaluating performance, setting benchmarks and industrial analytics scenarios. In combination with machine learning, this renders Koenig & Bauer able to identify potential malfunctions in processes much earlier and more accurately, and to initiate service and maintenance fully automatically. Unplanned downtimes can thereby be reduced, and service intervals can be modified accordingly.
“Koenig & Bauer made the switch to a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, a leading industry product, back in 2010,” adds Ralf Sammeck, executive board member for the Sheetfed segment and CDO. “Across the Group, Sales, Service and Marketing, along with the adjacent functions, all use the CRM application, which also provides performance data for the machines connected within the network.” This allows the employees of Koenig & Bauer to provide advice to customers which satisfies their expectations each and every time they are in contact. “Software is driving our transformation from a manufacturer of machinery to a technology company,” as Sammeck continues. “Our customers benefit from the consistent process integration and from data-optimised job management processes that use data as a basis.”
High-performance digital presses from Koenig & Bauer offer customers in packaging printing new business models for printing very short runs, rapidly changing requirements, security elements, track-and-trace solutions, as well as personalisation and individualisation. The focus is on the entire value chain with a view to optimise costs. Easy-to-use human-machine interfaces make operation more intuitive for customers.
Koenig & Bauer is responding to the trend towards hybrid printing processes in the paper, board, corrugated board and film segments by combining analogue and digital printing and finishing technologies. This allows the advantages of both applications to be exploited optimally, broadening the range of substrates that can be printed on. By entering the food and beverage carton industry, Koenig & Bauer will enable full-colour digital printing on carton packaging in future.
“Digital printing processes will be a catalyst for new business models,” as Christoph Müller, executive board member for the Digital & Webfed segment, is convinced. “We are assuming that most of the companies that will be our customers in future have not even been founded yet.”
More diversity within the company in relation to gender, age and internationality has, as a social objective, also been adopted as part of Koenig & Bauer’s strategic blueprint. One key focal point is the advancement of women, for example through mentoring and career programmes, and by introducing wide-reaching measures to reconcile family and career, as well as initiatives to combat discrimination and racism.
“Our goal is to be a top employer for everyone,” as Pleßke underscores. As a company with regional roots, Koenig & Bauer has assumed social responsibility from the very beginning. As has been the case for over 150 years, the company continues to train future skilled workers at its own vocational school, and guarantees employment after they have completed their apprenticeships. Koenig & Bauer supports cultural and social institutions at its Group sites and around the world.
CFO Dr Stephen Kimmich is convinced, “By committing to deliver on our ecological, social and community responsibility, we are sending an important signal to the capital market. Koenig & Bauer is the only manufacturer of printing machinery to master all industrial printing processes on just about every type of substrate – even on corrugated board – and supplies software, systems and service for entire printing and finishing processes. After all, optimising the ‘Total Cost of Process’ forms a key factor, more than ever, for our customers in any decision about which technology to purchase. This also gives the company good reason to consider itself a ‘trusted advisor’ for its customers and an agent of change and innovation within the print industry. ‘Exceeding Print’ will contribute to the achievement of our financial goals for the medium term, which earmarks turnover of €1.3 billion and an EBIT margin of more than 7 per cent.”
“Our ‘Exceeding Print’ strategy allows us to promote sustainability as the greatest challenge that the packaging industry will be facing in future, and uphold our claim to leadership when it comes to digitalisation,” says Dr Andreas Pleßke, summing up the measures that were decided on. “This means organic growth with our own business models and products, but does not rule out growth through acquisitions.”