The Minneapolis Star Tribune has chosen an innovative strategy to deal with controls and electronic obsolescence issues on their current press equipment. Star Tribune’s success in building a regional print center – printing multiple daily and weekly newspapers – compounded the need to upgrade and make current the press controls on their Headliner Offset Press. In an effort to stabilize their press system for the foreseeable future, they needed a controls system which would allow their presses to be highly utilized and perform reliably, meeting their challenging production needs.
In the past year, the engineering teams at manroland web systems have developed a solution for print centers with press equipment of any brand to use the widely respected and extremely flexible controls system, PECOM-X. The controls retrofit of PECOM-X accesses the award-winning PECOM-X Control Desk through off-the-shelf electronic gateways, increasing capabilities to make job changeovers faster, reduce waste, and increase color and format flexibility.
Moreover, these upgrades are being done through a series of phases, eliminating the interruptions to production as well as reducing the impact on capital expenditures for Star Tribune. Each phase has been carefully designed so that Star Tribune’s printing needs and the needs of its print customers will continue to be met throughout the upgrade process.
As a part of the selection process, the team at Star Tribune were made familiar with the PECOM-X platform, and received detailed plans on how each phase of the upgrade was going to be launched. Star Tribune also contacted users that had recent experience with the PECOM-X platform, and using PECOM-X upgrade programs. manroland web systems’ reputation in the marketplace, and the testimonials of its customers were one of the determining factors.
“During the selection process with manroland web systems, we became confident that manroland has the knowledge of the complexities of our entire controls platform,” said Kevin Desmond, senior vice president of operations for Star Tribune. “The long-term goals and expertise of their team members created a technology partnership which fits our desire to continue to grow and develop our own production models.”
From the manroland web systems perspective, the controls upgrade at Star Tribune represent the results of the company’s continued focus to provide the industry with intelligent and practical solutions for existing pressroom equipment.
“This retrofit is engineered by a dedicated press manufacturer with active R&D, developing new products based on market requirements. Our new generic hardware-based platform provides Star Tribune all the required flexibility to act according to the fast changing demands of their readers and advertising clients, and our solutions even give the possibility to enter additional business fields at times of lower press utilization,” said Dieter Betzmeier, executive vice president technology and project execution, “The retrofit business is one of our main strategic targets, and we see ourselves as partners to our customers, to keep their equipment on a high performance level. But we are not only aiming to provide solutions to keep the installed press base current, but also to show possibilities to enhance performance and implement additional functionality for a wider equipment utilization.“
manroland web systems North America CEO Greg Blue shared his thoughts on the impact this controls upgrade will have on the industry. “We determined that one of the best ways to implement our growth initiative in North America was to broaden our scope of services to the entire industry. We have the most robust controls system in printing, so why not find a way to share our engineering expertise with the industry at large? This controls upgrade on Star Tribune’s Headliner Offset press is a milestone event for manroland web systems, as it extends our controls systems technology beyond the manroland footprint, and is one of our stepping stones along the path of market expansion.”