Case Study

Heidelberg builds on NX for future success

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG

NX is a key element of a printing press development strategy that leverages 3D models from design through to assembly


Heidelberg was at a crossroads where it needed to determine which of its two design solutions would best support future product development plans.

Technology provider and partner to the print media industry

With a global market share for sheetfed offset printing machines of more than 40 percent, Heidelberg is the world’s leading solution provider for the print media industry. The company focuses on the entire process and value chain in sheetfed offset printing. Apart from printing presses, the product portfolio includes plate imaging devices and finishing equipment, as well as software components designed to integrate all print manufacturing processes. Heidelberg is most active within the major OECD industrial regions and is expanding its involvement within growing markets such as Asia and Eastern Europe. With development and production sites in five countries and some 250 sales offices worldwide, the company offers services to more than 200,000 customers around the globe.

Sheetfed presses are complex systems composed of many subassemblies. The subassemblies themselves are also complex, some having more than 2,000 parts. Design engineers at Heidelberg create new sheetfed presses to custom or semi-custom requirements. For a number of years, design engineers at the company’s Heidelberg, Germany headquarters used Catia (2D and later 3D) as their CAD system. Their colleagues at some of the company’s subsidiaries used NX™ software from Siemens PLM Software. When it came time to create the development environment of the future, Heidelberg decided to compare its two CAD systems (Catia and NX) in an exhaustive benchmarking process involving up to 100 people.

NX was the clear winner

The result of the extremely thorough evaluation was that Heidelberg decided to replace all of its 350 Catia seats with NX. The selection team found NX superior in most of the critical areas: depth of functionality (in particular its stability with large assembly models); the quality of interface to ERP software; the cost of the investment in hardware, software, services and training; the level of integration between CAD and CAM; and the market position of Siemens. “After a comprehensive benchmark between our two CAD/CAM/CAE legacy systems, we selected Siemens and its NX software to create a unified development environment,” says Manfred Jurkewitz, head of Sheetfed Research and Development. “NX met or exceeded most of our expectations. Additionally, the success of Siemens’ solutions in the machinery marketplace gave us additional confidence in our decision.”

With NX as its design solution, Heidelberg is creating a development strategy capable of leveraging 3D design data to the greatest extent possible. Using NX, design engineers model components and create virtual subassemblies that they evaluate onscreen. Heidelberg also takes advantage of NX’s functionality for knowledge capture and re-use. “We use NX’s knowledge-based engineering (KBE) functionality and Knowledge Fusion tools to pre-define certain elements of the machines,” explains Gunter Meier, project manager for product lifecycle management (PLM). “By using pre-defined elements, we can standardize designs to a greater extent, which helps control costs. It speeds the design phase as well.”

Platform for the future

Heidelberg has found that modeling new parts and subassemblies in NX is faster than working in Catia once design engineers are trained in the new system. Design engineers use the part and assembly models they create in kinematics analyses and finite element analyses. This ensures that subassemblies perform flawlessly before actual physical parts are put together. The first project Heidelberg migrated to NX was a sheetfed press called the Speedmaster SM 52, a press up to eight colors that prints documents up to 520 mm long with stock thicknesses up to 0.6 mm. This press can be adapted to meet customers’ individual requirements. According to Meier, by working in NX on this project, design engineers had a better feel for what they were designing. They were better able to understand how components fit and moved together.

Heidelberg is now using NX for all new projects involving the Speedmaster SM 74 product line. Both the Speedmaster SM 52 and Speedmaster SM 74 product lines were originally designed in Catia and legacy data was migrated into NX to create new systems. “We expect to see even greater benefits from NX when we develop new products entirely within NX,” says Meier. Heidelberg is at the beginning of fully leveraging its 3D NX data as well. As the future development strategy becomes reality, design data will also be used to supply bill of material information to the company’s ERP system and to drive assembly planning. “We will create bills of material out of the virtual NX assemblies and use the information for planning the assembly process,” Meier says. “We expect to reap many more benefits from NX.”

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