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New MAN Roland press bringing more color and convenience to The Advocate

Friday, November 10, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

Nov 10, 2006 -- "I'd give MAN Roland an A plus on this installation. The MAN Roland team was phenomenal to deal with. They lived and died by our schedule and they have exceeded our expectations." That's the word from Kirk Fisher, Director of Operations of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The newspaper is activating its state-of-the art $70 million, 117,000 sq ft production center this month, putting its new REGIOMAN press on edition while ramping up new prepress and mailroom systems. Douglas Manship Jr., Publisher of The Advocate, notes that the new press will produce a more colorful and more readable newspaper for his readers and advertisers. "The initial response has been enthusiastic, and we think it will be even more so after they actually see what the REGIOMAN can do for them," he says. The Advocate's MAN Roland system features a 21" cutoff; a 48" web width and can deliver a 64-page newspaper with as many as 40 pages in full color. Accomplishing the mission are 8 reel stands, feeding 48 printing couples, positioned in 7 printing units. Automatic roll loading capabilities and MAN Roland's PECOM control and automation system complete the package. Sized Right Fisher, who as Director of Operations manages both production and business matters for The Advocate, says that in addition to the substantial increase in color pages, the paper is morphing to a more manageable size with the start-up of the new press. For the past half century, The Advocate was produced on a letterpress with a 55-inch web width. When it ordered the new REGIOMAN two years ago, the newspaper specified a 50 inch web. Since that time, it witnessed many other major papers trimming down even more, and the math for an even more compact format added up. "We decided to cut it down to 48 inches," Fisher explains. "Our initial reduction from 55" to 50" would have saved us 12% in newsprint costs. We subsequently figured out that by going to 48", we'd save an additional 3% for a total 15% reduction in our largest annual expenditure." The midstream change didn't faze MAN Roland. "They had to coordinate the changes with a few vendors, but MAN Roland was phenomenal in making sure it happened," Fisher adds. "Rollers were cut on site. Former boards were cut on site. There was a cost associated with the change, but when you can save 15% on a $22 million newsprint budget each year, you're looking at real money." Optimized Installation "One of the reasons we can be so responsive to in-process customer requests is our new Print Process Optimization Program," says Vince Lapinski, COO of MAN Roland Inc. "It enables our customers to start up their new press at the highest possible levels of productivity and efficiency. That means we go beyond the technology to coordinate the process and the people aspects of a successful web press start-up as well." While MAN Roland assembled the press, The Advocate connected with its readers so they would know what to expect. "We are making the public aware of how their paper is going to change," Manship says, "so they won't wake up Monday morning with a totally strange newspaper in their hands. We are making them aware of the changes that mean they will have a better, more usable paper." "We've already announced that we are not reducing the type size we print," adds Fisher. "That's a concern to older readers, so we've assured them that a smaller paper doesn't mean smaller type." Where Automation Matters Both Manship and Fisher are impressed by the high level of automation the REGIOMAN puts on the table. But the publisher notes that the increased productivity computer integrated systems bring is only one side of the coin. "Lowering costs is an important part of keeping a newspaper competitive and attractive to readers," Manship says. "While lowering costs is important, however, we believe that the increased color and sharper appearance will help increase circulation." Then there's the issue of timeliness. "The main advantage to full automation is that it helps get the newspaper to the customer on time with the latest news possible," says Manship. "If you don't have a good product, then full automation won't help in the least." The productive and more colorful attributes of the REGIOMAN are also giving Advocate advertisers a break. "We are actually lowering the cost of color ads," Fisher says. "Most newspapers charge more when they offer more color to their advertisers. We are flying in the face of that. We want to put out as colorful a product as we can every day." More Color Less Cost REGIOMAN's efficiencies are allowing The Advocate to reduce color ad prices while maintaining its profit margins. It will also open up new revenue channels for the newspaper. "We plan to print several niche products of our own," Manship says, "and we are looking for other companies that can take advantage of what our new press has to offer." MAN Roland had a lot to offer in terms of training Advocate crews to run the REGIOMAN. "We were concerned because this was a big leap of technology for us," Fisher explains. "We're going from a 1950's letterpress to an incredible all computer-driven state-of-art system." The newspaper's top pressmen were moved over to the new facility for onsite MAN Roland training. They, in turn, helped get the remainder of the production staff up to speed. "It was a very robust training program and MAN Roland did a phenomenal job," Fisher says. "As soon as the riggers left, our guys were out there working on the presses. Other press manufacturers are going to have a hard time keeping up with MAN Roland, when it comes to training, technology and leadership."




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