Des Moines Register upgrades smoothly to more color with MAN Roland tower extensions
Press release from the issuing company
Des Moines, Iowa — The Des Moines Register has added 17 additional printing couples to its three MAN Roland GEOMAN presses, significantly increasing the color content of its pages without missing a single deadline.
“We couldn't have asked for a better installation,” says Rick Mayer, the Register’s Press/Newsprint Manager, who coordinated the presses’ expansion. “There was absolutely no impact on our operation. The project went so smoothly, it was scary. We kept waiting for something bad to happen, but it never did.”
The add-ons transformed all 4/1 and 4/2 towers into 4/4 full-color producers on the Register’s three GEOMAN systems. In terms of color capacity, “A press” went from 24 pages of full color to 40 for a 40% increase, while “B press” upgraded from 28 pages of full color to 40 pages, which is a 30% rise.
“We have a three-press operation, when running in collect mode,” Mayer explains. “But we normally only use two presses, because we run straight, for increased press productivity to meet the tight production schedule that we’re under.”
The GEOMAN presses are the heart of a $52-million production facility that went online back in March 2000. This latest expansion raises their total couple count from 67 to 84, and evens out the lines.
“Now we have matching presses,” Mayer observes. “That means we can balance equipment run time more effectively. Operating identical systems also makes it easier for scheduling maintenance.”
How did the Register live through such a major equipment revamping without experiencing a production meltdown? “MAN Roland worked around our print schedule,” Mayer explains. “They made good use of the open time that we have on Sunday. That’s the only day of the week that we’re not printing in the morning or afternoons.”
MAN Roland’s Sunday approach to installing the tower extensions involved concentrating the heavy lifting within that weekly window. “This was the day that we installed the items that required using the overhead crane and come-alongs for safety reasons,” Mayer says.
The silence of a Sunday pressroom was an added bonus: “There was no noise from the presses, so members of the installation crew were able to communicate with each other more easily.”
Weekday work focused on one press at a time. “We only require one press on the morning and afternoon shifts,” notes Mayer, “so we would run the press on the opposite end from the one the MAN Roland crew was working on.”
While The Des Moines Register could have selected another manufacturer as its tower add-on suppliers, it wanted to make sure it retained the high level of performance of its GEOMAN presses.
“Since MAN Roland did the original installation, and knew our total operation, including control software, we felt we would have less issues to deal with,” Mayer adds.
Like all MAN Roland web presses, the GEOMAN is controlled and monitored by the company’s PECOM press operating and automation system. That meant operation of the 17 new couples could be integrated into the presses’ existing control consoles. What’s more, operators required no additional training to run the expanded MAN Roland machines because they were already well versed in PECOM productivity routines.
MAN Roland installers did, however, provide some additional training for the paper’s technicians, to ensure that The Des Moines Register can make full use of the system’s extra color capacity for years to come.
The paper’s advertisers, meanwhile, are already taking advantage of the more colorful opportunities the tower add-ons provide. “They allow us to run standalone advertising sections, normally following our A section, with all pages running in full color,” Mayer reports. “Also, the classified section has really taken advantage of the increased color with our linear ads.”
Register readers also have expressed their satisfaction with the paper’s new look. “They like it,” Mayer says. “The color pages are now balanced among all sections, rather than some running in black and white, then a group of color pages, then back to black and white, and so on. Now, the color is spread out more evenly.”
The Register’s commercial printing business, which includes production of Investors Business Daily, is also spreading. The paper recently signed on to print an Omaha alternative weekly, the result of its more color-capable presses.
And Mayer sees more commercial work on the way. “We are now able to run larger size products with all pages in color,” he says.
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