Heidelberg to debut HundeHutte presses at Drupa (April 1)

Printing press manufacturer goes to the dogs for latest development in press automation

There is plenty of room beneath the delivery for the HundeHutte development

IN A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY, APRIL 1, Heidelberg has revealed that it will be supplying a new range of presses with space under the delivery to house a dog. It is the fulfilment of the prediction that one day a printing press would become so automated that only one man a dog would be needed to operate it. The man to feed the dog and the dog to stop the man touching the controls.

“With the Hundehutte press that day has arrived,” says a spokesman for the company. “The press will be available in all formats and as a result so will the dog that goes with the press.” The VLF presses will come with a large mastiff type breed, the B3 machines with pekinese dogs. Buyers of mid sized presses can choose between labradors, German shepherds and dalmatians. It is likely that the different countries will elect to have their own dogs the spokesman adds.

HEIDELBERG HAS TRAINED ITS ENGINEERS TO care for the dogs as well as for the machines themselves, something which has caused some problems and some engineers have needed to be treated in the medical facilities at the Wiesloch factory. A dedicated kennels facility has been created in a hall once used to machine parts.

In operation press minders will be expected to feed and exercise the animals that come with each press. This is timed to happen at make ready, the time when an operator would be most tempted to fiddle with the machine. As the pallet is removed from one job, the minder will take up the lead and walk his hound, returning to find that the press is up and running again, in colour and in fit. Thus there is no need for the operator to touch the press.

THERE HAVE BEEN BETA SITES TESTING THE dog technology and reports coming back have praised the quality of the printing and the press, but there have been some problems with the dogs. “Our dog came and was obedient to the engineer from the factory,” says one French beta user, “but our operator could not get the dog to do as it should. Fortunately the hospital says he will eventually make a full recovery and that the scarring is not severe. We discovered that the dogs came only with German instructions, and nobody here speaks Geman.”

As a result Heidelberg is considering the implementation of a local training programme so that dogs understand instructions from their users. While this will be fine, it will present problems when the press is sold on the secondhand market and the dog accompanies the press to a different country. It may be easier to train printers to give commands to their dogs in German.

HEIDELBERG EXPECTS TO ROLL OUT THE PROGRAM in almost every corner of the globe, with the exception of Korea where initial testing resulted in the belief that the dog was a gift for a celebratory banquet.

Heidelberg’s rivals are keeping a close eye on developments and should the HH presses prove popular will have to follow suite. KBA has refused to confirm reports that it is advertising for dog handlers in the Dresden area while Roland is promising to declare its plans at Drupa.