Georg Schneider, head of the development department at KBA’s main web press factory in Würzburg and one of the most innovative members of Germany’s press manufacturing industry, retires on 30 April shortly after his 67th birthday and almost 53 years after joining the company.
In the current debate on raising the pensionable age in Germany to 67, Georg Schneider is living proof that inventing groundbreaking concepts and ingeniously simple solutions to complex technical challenges has little to do with age and a lot to do with inherent skill, a willingness to take a fresh approach, the ability to motivate others and, not least, sheer hard work. More than 700 patents have been awarded to date on over 150 of Georg Schneider’s inventions. Presses of all kinds, from small-format digital offset to KBA’s unique Cortina waterless newspaper press, bear his signature, although with the modesty of an inspired engineer he tends to shun the spotlight.
Georg Schneider joined Koenig & Bauer as an apprentice on 1 September 1954 and after qualifying as a machinist was assigned to the drilling shop. But production failed to hold his interest and from 1959 to 1961 he studied engineering technology at the Balthasar-Neumann Polytechnic in Würzburg. This was followed by 19 years in the engineering department working on stereotyping machines. In 1980 Georg Schneider transferred to the development department, where he was able to give full rein to his passion for developing new printing presses and processes. Promoted to head of printing-unit engineering in 1987, he found implementing new ideas much more appealing than the bureaucracy associated with managing a big department, and in 1995 returned to the development department, this time as its head.
The pioneering role that KBA plays in developing new technologies and processes for newspaper production – the revolutionary Cortina and its conventional counterpart, the Commander CT, being just the latest – owes much to Georg Schneider’s visionary creativity. When a Commander CT that is already in operation at the Mainpost media group in Würzburg is officially unveiled in September before an international audience, Georg Schneider will attend as a senior citizen. Many of the UV offset systems built by KBA subsidiary KBA-Metronic for printing smart cards, CDs and DVDs were developed jointly by Georg Schneider and the company founder, Torald Rohloff, and following his official retirement Mr Schneider is planning to continue these creative activities at the mid-cap enterprise a stone’s throw from KBA: at 67 he feels much too young to just potter in the garden or watch television all day. But he is looking forward to having more time for his four granddaughters and his second hobby after press technology: photography and making videos.
Georg Schneider’s successor is Bernd Masuch (46), who joined Koenig & Bauer in 1988 as a mechanical engineer in the newspaper press engineering department. From 1993 to 1995 he was in charge of the commissioning department, after which he returned to press design as head of the engineering department and the competence centre for newspaper press printing units. On 1 August 2003 he was appointed head of printing couple development in the web press development department, which he will head from 1 May.