For how long can we use the heatset presses before they are worn out completely?

Commentary written by Lasse Krogell, NOPA

A couple of weeks ago I noticed on Print Week a news with the headline: ”End of an era for Goss web offset presses”. Two years ago, when manroland and Goss joint their heatset businesses, this was an act forced by the radically shrunken market of new presses. Now the Goss brand is history.

When the demand for the really big central European catalogues, both in pagination and print run, dropped some 10 – 20 years ago, the gravure marked collapsed. As a consequence, the heatset market was booming. 96-page presses where installed in Central Europe and UK in big numbers. The press manufacturers were busy and doing well. Today the situation is completely different. Almost no new presses are ordered and on the secondhand market there are a lot of presses 5 to 10 years old.

Concerning Manroland Goss Web Systems, the Print Week news is interesting in that sense that I did not find any news about this on their web page news section. But looking at what presses they offer, there are only the manroland models. Why does not MRGWS officially announce this? But in the PW article Theo Buchmeyer, vice president for business development and product management, convinces that they will support all Heidelberg / Goss customers in their service needs. “There is not one press or part that we cannot support. We are not abandoning any customers.” But for how long and to what price?

When I looked at the situation in the Nordic and Baltic countries, we have in Finland 12 commercial heatset presses, 6 of which are Heidelberg / Goss. Denmark and Sweden have 9 presses each, and no one of them is a Goss brand, or perhaps there are one or two of them. I’m not 100 % sure. Norway has 3 presses. In the Baltic countries there are all together 13 presses of which 4 are Goss branded. I hope all these figures are correct.

In the good old days, we calculated that a good point to replace a press would be at the age of around 15 years. In those days the price for print was ok and the printers could do new investments. Only a few of the heatset presses today running, in our area, are less than 15 years old. But I don’t think too many printers are seriously thinking of replacements. At least not in completely new presses. But how long can this situation last? The presses are wearing out and it becomes more expensive to maintain them. The customers of the printers need high quality print jobs. Hopefully they will soon be ready to pay a fair price for the print services, so the printers can again start to invest, in new presses with better competitiveness.