By: Mark Vruno
At GRAPH EXPO in September, the seminar “Reinforcing Print in a Time of Transition” brought together a panel of newspaper industry professionals whose organizations have led the way in adopting new technologies to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world. The conference attracted nearly 200 newspaper printers and publishers eager to hear some positive print-industry news.
Lou Tazioli, president of Tribune Direct Marketing, discussed his firm’s successful use of Kodak Prosper 5000XL color inkjet-web digital press technology for its newspapers and direct-mail operations, according to the Show Daily, the official publication of GRAPH EXPO.
Sally Pirri, production director at The Globe & Mail in Toronto, demonstrated how a recent redesign of Globe Life’s (the paper’s travel publication) print edition led to a 30 percent increase in revenues over the last year. A combination of heatset, coldest, and UV presses helped ramp up the quality of its printed product, and readers responded positively.
And Gary Hall, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s director of commercial print and delivery, explained how spending money up-front can help reduce costs down the line. By adding Prime UV curing equipment to the paper’s KBA Commander double- wide press earlier this year, its production costs have dropped, and quality has increased, the Show Daily reported.
Most riveting, perhaps, was Del Varney, vice president of operations at The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, who gave the first public presentation detailing the newspaper’s decision to modify its presses to an innovative, three-around configuration — a bold move management has been contemplating for three years.
Three months ago, Gannett signed a letter of intent with the Dispatch (100 miles away) for the outsourced printing of The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Kentucky Enquirer in a new, more compact, easy-to-use format. The change should begin about a year from now, in Q4 2012.
“As a result of research we’ve done and the feedback we’ve received from readers and advertisers, we have signed a letter of intent with the Columbus Dispatch to print the Enquirer in a new compact format that would be brighter, more engaging, and easier to read,” said Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “While covering the same amount of news as the previous format, this new approach would enhance the user experience by allowing for a fuller use of color and photographs and improved readability.”
Dimensions of the newly formatted Enquirer will be 10 ½ by 14 ½ inches. If and when the agreement is finalized, the Enquirer’s production facility would close fourth quarter, 2012.
The Pressline connection
The Dispatch has signed a letter of intent with Pressline Services of St. Louis to produce the compact format for its newspapers, based on Pressline’s new press system called 3Volution (3V), in early 2013. At GRAPH EXPO in September, Pressline exhibited its 3V cutoff modification service, which the firm says marks an evolution in printing. The system uses a plate cylinder capable of printing three sheets in a single revolution.
3V will create a new, compact sectional newspaper format all from existing equipment, creating a much more productive press comparable to most new models capable of handling larger runs. The three-around printing system creates cutoffs between 14.5 and 15.75 inches depending on current press cut-off, running in a straight-only mode. (Optional dual cutoff retaining existing cutoff alongside 3V is available.) This so-called three-around system will work with single- or double-wide presses.
By employing this patent-pending technology, pressrooms increase productivity by 50 percent and can extend press run deadlines to include late-breaking news, according to Pressline. A press running 50,000 papers per hour will now realize 75,000 papers per hour. Plus, the smaller format saves a lot on paper costs. The 3V system may potentially eliminate entire presses, reducing labor costs, equipment costs, and service costs. The raw newsprint savings at these cut-offs is up to 33 percent. When reducing a larger web width to 44 inches, the savings will be an additional 4 to 12 percent.
“Also, based on a prototype I saw, it [3V] paradoxically results in a print edition with more pages, more heft, and better display opportunities for editorial content and ads,” said Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute. “A single sheet passes through the presses three times rather than the usual two times. That results in a sectioned paper with lots of color availability, about the size of a typical tabloid but not as squarish in shape.”
IFRA Debut for KBA; drupa Preview
KBA unveiled its new Commander CL double wide press at October’s IFRA expo in Austria. The blanket-to-blanket machine, a successor to the Colora, is engineered with H-type printing units and a variety of automation features.
At GRAPH EXPO in September, the German press manufacturer revealed some details about its alliance with mega printer RR Donnelley to design and market a new line of digital presses. The presses are to be equipped with RRD’s ProteusJet inkjet technology along with the printer’s Apollo imaging technology. The pair also is eyeing the development of an inkjet head that can be installed on an offset press. The head would be placed before the web travels through the blanket and impression cylinder — and would permit the use of variable printing at press speed. Expect the first machines equipped with RRD-KBA technology to be demonstrated at next year’s drupa show in May 2012.
Press manufacturer manroland unveiled its newspaper pressupdate initiative at GRAPH EXPO in September and revealed more details at the IFRA Expo 2011 in Vienna last month. Launched in North America, the program is intended to help newspapers use existing resources to become more relevant, competitive, and profitable in today’s marketplace. This initiative provides newspapers with highly specialized expertise, engineering services, and modular technology for upgrading existing facilities to reduce costs and improve productivity. manroland also is offering customer-specific assistance packages for newspapers looking to change formats or add additional color capabilities in support of consolidation efforts.
Vince Lapinski, CEO of manroland Inc., said, “manroland is known as the company you could rely on for advanced newspaper printing technology and meticulous project management for large installations of new equipment. Because of sweeping structural changes in the industry over the past five years, newspaper printers currently need a different kind of support … manroland’s pressupdate initiative will support newspapers by supplying packages of services, technology, and printing equipment that are more granular than they have been to date. This will allow us to target very specific upgrades that will often be unique to a specific newspaper’s market and business strengths,” he added. “Newspapers will be able to buy exactly what they need to capitalize on existing opportunities to expand their revenue stream and operate more profitably. To safeguard the newspaper’s investment, manroland will rely on its considerable global newspaper experience to provide assurances of upgrade performance.”
Lapinski said that manroland believes repurposing of existing facilities and existing infrastructure is not only logical, it is environmentally sound. As consolidation options are being considered by potential partners, the best value proposition will win the day.
Czech Plate Plant
Toray Industries is targeting European growth and demand with a new waterless printing plate factory in the Czech Republic. The Japanese manufacturer expects the facility to be operational in early 2014. Encompassing coating and converting capabilities, the new operation will meet the needs of printers across Europe and the Middle East.
“Europe has been given priority regarding the timetable for expanding Toray’s plate production because of the growing interest in waterless printing in these markets and the need to shorten supply routes,” said Toshimitsu Matsumoto, general manager of Toray’s graphics division in Japan. “Central to the decision is the reinforcement of our commitment to the newspaper market where our customers benefit from the high productivity and the new semi-commercial product opportunities the superior KBA Cortina newspaper press technology provides.”
The final selection of the Czech site was made after some years of operating a plate-converting facility adjacent to Toray’s textile plant in Prost jov. “It was a logical choice considering the local staff’s prior experience with printing plates and already being in possession of the required real estate for expansion,” Matsumoto said.
The move will improve technical support to customers as well as reduce costs through simplified process flow and logistics. “The European manufacturing site is also expected to reduce the adverse effects of currency exchange rate fluctuations,” Matsumoto added.
Toray engineering staff is finalizing plans for the coating line, which will be installed in a new building adjacent to the present facility. It is expected that the freed-up capacity in the Japanese factory will be needed for the Asian market, which is also growing.
Trelleborg launched an innovative printing blanket for newspaper printers at IFRA Expo 2011. Its new Vulcan Metal Aqueous metal-backed printing blanket is specifically designed to improve efficiency and print quality in newspaper printing applications. The new blanket features a unique chemical compound, on the top layer, which is more hydrophilic than typical rubber compounds, providing a high-quality finish throughout the long lifetime of the blanket.
“Reproduction quality has traditionally proven problematic in coldset printing, with problems such as low-quality ink transfer and poor registration of colors,” said Thomas Linkenheil, Trelleborg PA director. “We wanted to develop a solution that would help our customers deliver consistent quality, time and time again. In addition, its specialist design also results in less ink accumulation on the blanket, keeping it cleaner and therefore providing a better ink transfer from the blanket to the paper.”
The Vulcan Metal Aqueous is suitable for use with all conventional inks.
Newspaper White Paper
Muller Martini has released a new white paper titled “Success In Motion. The Newspaper Industry Adapts to Changing Times Doing What It Does Best: Connecting Individuals and Communities to Advertisers.” While acknowledging and documenting the challenges presented by a troubled economy and the continued emergence of digital alternatives, the paper presents a positive perspective on how newspapers, manufacturing partners, and advertisers have initiated business-building strategies that are moving the industry forward.
Gary Owen, Muller’s vice president of mailroom system sales and author of the white paper, said, “We felt it was time to present an informed perspective on where the newspaper business has been, and where it’s headed. So much that has been reported reflects a ‘gloom and doom’ point of view. But we speak with our newspaper clients every day, and the picture is actually a much brighter one. Sure, the industry has taken some hits, but they’ve also initiated new, robust revenue strategies that are starting to make a real difference.”
“Success in Motion” provides a detailed account of why the newspaper industry became at risk and the reasons it was essential to operationally restructure for the future. One of the key strategies discussed in the paper is the emergence of regional production and distribution centers, which have greatly streamlined the manufacturing and distribution of newspapers, creating efficiencies for publishers and producers that are resulting in profitable outcomes. The white paper features case studies that support the success of the regional production and distribution center model. In addition, the paper discusses a number of advertising programs that are taking full advantage of print’s creative power and unique distribution capabilities.
“Success in Motion” is available as a free download on Muller Martini’s Channel MM media hub page at http://blogmmus.com.
At the IFRA expo, QuadTech demonstrated how its color control, web inspection, register control, and data management systems help newspaper printers significantly reduce waste and boost quality. The firm’s latest technology advancement combines industry- leading color control and web inspection, all from the same sensor. The QuadTech Color Control and web Inspection System with AccuCam utilizes a proprietary six-channel spectral sensor for L*a*b*-based color control — eliminating the need for color bars or gray bars. This closed-loop system analyzes the entire image and automatically obtains target aim point values from a high-resolution prepress file to maintain accurate color by automatically adjusting ink keys. The system also automatically controls and optimizes the ink ratchet for superb inking performance, creating better color, reduced waste, and minimized operator intervention. All surfaces are inspected, and common print faults such as scumming, blanket smashes, incorrect plates, and color variations are detected.
The system has been installed at a num- ber of high-profile newspaper printing operations in the last 12 months. Five towers are being installed on two manroland Colorman XXL presses at Herold Druck und Verlag AG, based in Vienna, Austria.
In Japan, Sankei Shimbun’s Hokusetsu (Osaka) plant has also used AccuCam on 16 towers to achieve NSAC-standard color. The plant is now producing the best color quality in the Sankei group and has established the color standard for all Sankei plants to meet. AccuCam was launched after successful trials at the Newsprinters Knowsley (UK) plant, which prints national News International titles such as the Times, the Sunday Times, and the Sun.
“Our press-control technology is engineered to allow printers to achieve uncompromising quality consistency,” said Karl Fritchen, QuadTech president. “For printers interested in employing lean production methods, our innovations can be instrumental in reducing waste and minimizing operator involvement.