Upgrading for the Future

By: Toni McQuilken

For manroland web systems, there could be no better success story—the company’s latest, premium printing system for long print runs, the COLORMAN e:line, was installed in its first shop earlier this year, and has since brought huge gains for the printer,  Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag in Kempten, Germany.  

The new press—which was officially inaugurated in June, after several months of active printing—replaced an older unit, and has taken over full production of the daily newspaper. Allgäuer Zeitung produces eight newspaper editions, with a total run of 110,000 copies, daily.  

According to Markus Brehm, managing director at Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag, the press is a pleasure to work with. He noted that up to 256 printing plates can be changed at the same time and in sync, all within three minutes. The result is an enormous time-saving advantage: instead of the former seven hours of newspaper production with two presses, the COLORMAN e:line completes the task in four.  

And that gain of time isn’t just on the press. Makeready was also drastically reduced, noted Brehm. “One of the great advantages is the fact that makeready times are reduced to approximately three minutes per regional issue. This used to take twenty minutes to half an hour on the old press.”  

Bastian Korbel, head of production at Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag, has high hopes for the many automation solutions used in the measurement and control systems, as well as the plate logistics. “We can achieve greater efficiency and a better standard of quality, our work is easier and jobs are secured. Our eight local editions for the Allgäuer Zeitung will now be produced on one system instead of two separate rotary presses. We are thus able to work more flexibly until the platforms finally come to a halt at two in the morning.”  

Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag is taking advantage of the fact that the press is extremely modular. While the German printer took advantage of all the automation options from the start, any newspaper printer can begin with an “average level of automation,” noted manroland web systems officials, but can then retrofit to a higher degree of automation later, when production requirements change. One example the company cited is later adding Automtic Plate Loading (APL) when print runs get shorter and faster change-over becomes crucial to success.  

Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag started with the APL system as its production requirements were already high enough to support the investment, and the printer is glad to have it. “An important element here is the fully automatic, robot-assisted APL plate changing system, which dramatically accelerates set-up times and thus production,” said Korbel. “The plate-changing process is controlled by the operator from the central control console, where the plates are placed in transport baskets. They are then transported to the APL robot with a lift, where they are then changed.”  

The shop made a hefty investment, not just in the press itself, but in prepress and distribution around it—an 18 million Euro investment. “Our new press is a technical milestone, an investment into the future,” explained Brehm. “We had to invest to remain technologically ahead, to secure our jobs and to be able to offer our readers and our customers even better quality.” He continued, “Business risks need to be taken. I want to discover new things in order to drive the company forward. I embark on these projects wholeheartedly.”  

Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag’s COLORMAN e:line is equipped with four printing towers in a blanket-to-blanket design, four reel splicers, and two folders. A third ink form roller improves the print quality. With a web width of 1,400 mm and a cylinder circumference of 1,020 mm, the press produces copies of the newspaper in Rhinic format with up to 45,000 cylinder-revolutions-per-hour. Advertising journals and contract printing orders are added to this during the day. It is possible to print up to 90,000 newspaper copies per hour at a printing speed of 12.75 m/s.  

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