Production: Print Automation Showcase Emerging Down Under
Posted: 1/19/2012 | By: Mark Vruno
Far from being dead, print can be quite heavy, literally. I don’t know about your daily, but with all its inserts my “Black Friday” edition of the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 25 must have weighed nearly five pounds, proving that insert printing still is big business in the U.S. and around the globe.
Down Under, web-offset mega printer Hannanprint is investing some $90 million to further modernize its operations and relocate to Warwick Farm, west of Sydney. The cornerstone of the expansion is Australia’s largest heatset web press: The country’s first 96-page manroland Lithoman, expected to take up production this July, features twin 48-page webs that employ eight printing units in a stacked configuration.
Already one of the largest printers in the Oceania Region, which includes Australia and New Zealand, Hannanprint runs magazines, catalogs, and newsprint on multiple presses, including two existing Lithoman models (featuring automatic plate loading), one Rotoman, and a Goss M-1000. It specializes in octavo, quarto, square-tabloid, and traditional tabloid-sized product formats. As part of the Independent Print Media Group (IPMG), the high-end commercial printer employs more than 500 people in the Alexandria facility, which spans 3.8 hectares and features six heatset webs. The new production site at Warwick Farm is replacing the one in Alexandria, which is going to close by mid-2013. IPMG handles most of the externally printed inserts and magazines for News Limited and Fairfax under long-term contracts.
“We’ve had a great relationship with IPMG since they bought their first Lithoman press in 1999,” said Gerd Finkbeiner, manroland CEO. Steve Dunwell, managing director of manroland Australasia, added: “Warwick Farm is planned to be one of the most advanced and automated sites in the world. We are happy to play a major role here ...”
Web-offset rather than rotogravure
Instead of investing in gravure presses as originally planned, IPMG opted in favor of high-volume heatset weboffset. The decision was due to assessments of future requirements including run length and the ability to blend other sections also produced by offset, and that Hannanprint has some of the best-trained printers and operators already very familiar with the offset process. Its Lithoman will be one of only a few presses in the world capable of printing 96 pages in one pass. It is the second in stacked configuration and is to be operated with the manroland autoprint technology. It is equipped with the Aurosys fully automatic reel transport and reel store administration system.
Three other web presses are being moved to Warwick Farm within the next 15 months: two 48-page Lithoman models and a 32-page Rotoman in stacked configuration. They also will be upgraded by adding InlineDensity Control systems and fully automatic reel splicers. The new plant was designed to be as energy efficient and environmentally sustainable as possible: Air conditioning of all production areas will be assisted by the heat recovery from the press dryers. Additionally, after the completion of a new rail line, paper transport will be handled via rail taking the rolling stock directly into the paper store, thus eliminating up to 19 truck movements a day.
Plates going up top
The Burgess Industries booth at GRAPH EXPO last September featured an Australian outback theme, because things are looking up for president/CEO DJ Burgess — about 18 feet up. That’s the height of the plate transport system that will be suspended from the ceiling of Hannanprint’s 350,000-square-foot printing plant in Australia. Burgess found out right before the show that his firm had won the million-dollar contract, and it’s quite a big deal, literally, in terms of dollar value as well as its magnitude: a 500-foot transport path, more than half of which is a “super plate highway,” Bill Campbell, general manager of CTP Automation at Burgess Industries and a 28-year company veteran, told the official Show Daily publication. According to Burgess, there’s still much work to be done before the first major installation begins this April. Burgess’s part of the massive, $100-million project should be finalized by August or September 2012. “Hannanprint has a multiple range of presses and different plate sizes,” Burgess said, pointing out the main difference between this job and a similar mega-project he helped complete a few years ago at the Valpak plant in Largo, Fla. “The plate management and handling of the just-in-time process of driving [these] plates to press is more complex. All Valpak does is direct marketing coupons, so all their plates are the same size.”
Like Valpak, Hannanprint will feature lights-out production — “from imaging to processing to punch bending to cylinder delivery.” There are no carts or human handling, thanks to the Burgess Plate Manager (BPM) software. Burgess’ design facilitates flexible production, allowing for last-minute scheduling. With this system, “printers no longer have to do a schedule where they build a job around a press,” Burgess said.
Insolvent manroland Gets Credit, Seeks Investors
A week after shaking up the printing world by filing a petition to initiate insolvency proceedings Nov. 25, manroland AG early last month secured the continuation of its business operations with a $74 million (USD) line of credit similar to debtor-in-possession financing. Werner Schneider, a financial auditor for the provisional insolvency administrator, told German newspaper Die Welt that the company is reviewing presentations from financial advisers to find an investor interested in buying portions of the firm.
Meanwhile, the funding, which includes approximately $14 million in cash, came from a group of lenders and followed an agreement manroland struck with a German governmental agency to pay its wages. “Continuation of production and business operations at manroland is therefore secured,” Schneider said in a statement. “The company can continue to do business with customers and suppliers, and we are sending a very positive signal to the market.” However, there is much unrest among the unionized workforce, with reports of employee picketing in Germany.
In Great Britain, the press manufacturer’s U.K. unit filed for administration protection, with PricewaterhouseCoopers appointed to oversee the company, according to PrintWeek, the business publication that broke the story. The firm’s North American office in Westmont, Ill., said that it will continue to do business as usual and without interruption as conditions play out in Europe.
MediaCorp Banks on ppi Media
Since last September, MediaCorp, a leading multimedia publisher in Singapore, has planned and produced its daily newspaper Today with software solutions by ppi Media. After installing PlanPag for newspaper production planning, ppi Media, a subsidiary of manroland, has also integrated the Atex Prestige editorial system and SAP’s IS-M/AM ad management system in the workflow.
MediaCorp has completed its publishing system integration. The new workflow for Today started with the implementation of SAP’s ISM/ AM system and an update of the Prestige editorial system. Both are now fully integrated. With PlanPag as its central planning system, MediaCorp creates the page plans for Singapore’s second largest daily newspaper and then forwards them to the editorial system using standardized interfaces.
At MediaCorp, IS-M/AM is integrated in finance and controlling modules from the SAP ERP family. ppi Media provides extensive know-how on SAP’s IS-M/AM from more than 50 reference installations at news publishers worldwide. Atex Prestige is integrated based on XML standards. ppi Media’s experience covers more than 100 installations with various editorial systems at newspapers worldwide.
Enquirer Minds Want to Know…
So who will be printing the Cincinnati Enquirer later this year? A letter of intent from Gannett called for production to move to the family owned Columbus Dispatch’s facilities by Q4 2012, although final terms have yet to be reached. The deal corresponds with the latter’s conversion to a compact format. However, a management memo, distributed to union pressroom employees at the Dispatch, has revealed that up to $2 million in costs still needs to be trimmed to ensure Gannett enters into a final agreement, reported Jon Newberry of the Business Courier.
In stepped the Dayton Daily News, owned by Cox Media Group, to make its own bid to print the Enquirer as well as the Columbus Dispatch at its plant in Franklin, Ohio. While he couldn’t comment on the Enquirer specifically, Cox spokesman Mike Athmer wrote an email to the Cincinnati Business Journal, saying “We are in the business of printing other newspapers and a variety of commercial work. We are constantly exploring new customer opportunities as they arise and will continue to do so in the coming years.”