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DNP turns MAN Roland's innovative trends into profitable realities with six new GEOMAN presses

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

Sterling Heights, Michigan — “Being on time, providing better quality and being well within your budget — it doesn’t get any better than that,” says Keith Pierce, Senior Vice President/Operations as he reflects on the successful installation of six MAN Roland GEOMAN presses. Newspaper executives anxious to see how many of the industry’s emerging trends will play out need look no further than the new Detroit Newspaper Partnership (DNP) production facility, where over 570,000 copies of The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are now produced daily. That’s in addition to the plant’s Sunday press runs, which exceed 720,000 copies and are printed in sections on three separate days then combined for the final product. The focus of a $177 million expansion, the plant runs six GEOMAN presses from MAN Roland. Turning the possibilities into profitable realities, the new press lines have increased color content, automated the production process, sharpened print quality, facilitated a more reader-friendly format and brought in a flow of commercial print work. Keith Pierce, Senior Vice President/Operations for DNP, is less interested in being an industry bellwether than he is in ensuring that the 190,000 sq ft expansion was completed successfully. “The key thing overall is that we were able to get the support of vendors, led by MAN Roland, to start up the presses and get into full production ahead of schedule, while we stayed under our original budget,” he says. Three-Year Process The expanded facility was three years in the making and involved transitioning two major daily newspapers and their crews from manual mode to a computer-controlled production environment. “MAN Roland project management could really be called project leadership, because they were with us every step of the way from installation, through training and start-up, as well as providing technical support throughout the process.” Inter-vendor cooperation was another key to a smooth changeover. “It was absolutely critical that the key vendors understood each other and were aware of our overall plan,” says Pierce. “There are a lot of new process flows here, which had never worked together before.” “We held weekly meetings with each vendor and coordination meetings with groups to make sure all the interfaces were handled properly. We also created an executive steering committee, which included all the vendors, so there was a high level of cooperation and it has resulted in a smooth installation and start-up.” In addition to MAN Roland’s PECOM system for press automation and plant management, DNP automated other aspects of its print production stream with a 110-foot-tall storage and retrieval system from Siemens Demantic and an automated plate delivery system from Burgess Industries, which works in conjunction with six Agfa platesetters, one for each press. On the delivery end, the six GEOMAN folders had to forge a working relationship with a gripper conveyor system from GMA. The folders themselves are a trend in the making. They are the first in the industry with seven formers. That allows DNP to produce a seven-section newspaper on each press in the straight mode. The benefits include more color placement and pagination flexibility, while conserving time and newsprint. “We’ve had no issues running the extra former,” Pierce notes. “Web tension and fold accuracy have been excellent.” Training Time Months before the GEOMAN presses were up and running, the majority of DNP’s hundred-plus press operators had logged considerable time on two computer-based press simulators to give them a feel for the presses’ automation. Machinists, electricians and service technicians, meanwhile, reported to MAN Roland sites in the US and Europe for hands- on instruction. “We literally spent tens of thousands of hours in training before we turned a cylinder,” Pierce says. Last July, the Detroit News was selected as the first of the two publications to transition to the new presses, because the morning/afternoon production schedule allowed DNP crews to ease into using the new presses. “Then prior to live production, we ghosted the presses and ran simulated copies of a daily production run. We went through the whole process, from page make-up to CTP, to plate processing, to printing and mailroom.” All the training, planning and dress rehearsals paid off. Production of The Detroit News on the new GEOMAN presses went flawlessly, and later in the year, the Detroit Free Press transitioned over to the new presses without a hitch. Connecting with Color While readers of the two papers may not have noticed the seamless switch, they are very much aware of the results. Both papers have been totally redesigned to take advantage of the extra color the new presses provide. The GEOMAN installation has doubled the publications’ color capacity. DNP can now produce 40 four-color pages on any product greater than 64 pages. The upgrade to GEOMAN systems has also allowed DNP to go to a more reader-friendly newsprint-saving format — 50 inches with 21 inch cutoffs. “We asked our readers about the change and got a lot of very positive feedback from them,” Pierce observes. “They not only appreciate the more manageable format; they are very happy seeing the enhanced print quality and more color as well. It all goes hand-in-hand.” Advertisers like what they see as well. “The demand for color pages is already exceeding the supply in many cases,” Pierce reports. “ We wish we had more color capacity for our advertisers.” Going Commercial The enhanced print quality and color capabilities of the new presses have enabled the Detroit News Partnership to go after commercial business to keep the presslines productive between editions. “These GEOMAN presses have opened up a lot of potential for us,” says Pierce. “We already have commercial work running here and we’re actively pursuing additional work.” In January, for instance, DNP’s GEOMAN presses produced 152 special sections, many of which were advertising inserts that were distributed in papers other than The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. Both the advertising sales unit and the operations department at DNP are actively pursuing more commercial opportunities. Productive Partners A joint venture between Gannett Co. Inc. and MediaNews Group, DNP handles the business operations of both papers, including production, advertising and circulation. MediaNews Group owns The Detroit News and Gannett owns the Detroit Free Press. Each paper maintains its own newsroom and editorial staff. DNP’s six MAN Roland GEOMAN presses encompass 300 printing couples, 60 reels and six folders. They are equipped with AC shaftless direct drives to further speed makeready and enable quick changeovers from edition-to-edition, section-to-section and even page-to-page. “The new DNP plant is a showcase of how MAN Roland’s proven applied innovations makes newspapers more appealing and profitable,” says Vince Lapinski, COO of Web Operations for MAN Roland. “All of the emerging technologies in the industry, from increased, sharper color to automated production and even a more reader-friendly format can be found right here, working together to secure the future for The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. MAN Roland is proud to be part of their lasting legacy.”




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