KBA Commander CT: High-tech Newspaper Production in Bavaria / Germany
Friday, March 16, 2012
On 14 March, some 50 representatives of the trade press and prominent newspaper publishers from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland gathered at Der Neue Tag printing company in Weiden in Upper Palatinate, near the German/Czech border. They had been invited to participate in an open house and take a closer look at the first triple-width KBA Commander CT in Europe under production conditions and find out more about the overall investment. Replacing an existing KBA Express installed at Der Neue Tag in 1995, the highly automated 48-page press with two 6/2 towers is engineered for a continuous hourly output of up to 90,000 four-colour newspapers.
Compact Commander CT web offset press - model for success
This high-end press has proven extremely popular in Germany, Europe and overseas and a significant number of 6/2 presses are now on stream in locations as widespread as Karlsruhe, Koblenz, Salzburg, Transcontinental in Canada and the New York Daily News. Further presses are due to be delivered shortly to Barneveld in the Netherlands and Delmenhorst in Germany. With its highly automated Cortina series (waterless offset) and the Commander CT (wet offset), Koenig & Bauer set the trend for the web press manufacturing sector as early as 2000. It has since firmly established itself as the global market leader in newspaper press technology and led the way for many other manufacturers. While all KBA compact web presses offer impressive advantages in terms of accessibility, ergonomics and maintenance, winning features continue to be the unique compact design of the four-high towers that simply glide apart and a wide range of user-oriented innovations, such as remotely adjustable roller locks (RollerTronic), automatically adjustable cylinder bearings (NipTronic) and automatic plate changing during production (PlateTronic) - all without the need for expensive robotic solutions that restrict accessibility.
25 million euro for printed newspapers
Manager, Thomas Maul, welcomed visitors to the new print centre. Recently built in a country setting on the outskirts of Weiden, the state-of-the-art complex makes an impressive architectural statement. Publisher German Vogelsang highlighted the major importance of the investment package, totalling some 25 million euro, for the town of Weiden and the Upper Palatinate region, explaining how it would help to secure the long-term future of the company and the printed newspaper in a fast changing media landscape.
Der Neue Tag is the largest daily paper in Upper Palatinate. Including the regional titles Sulzbach-Rosenberger Zeitung, Amberger Zeitung and five other local editions, it has an overall daily print run of up to 84,000 copies. It also produces weekly freesheets and other newspaper-related products. The families Vogelsang, Döhler, Shanahan and Panzer are shareholders of the traditional media company that currently has a workforce of more than 400 employees and boasts a close and long-standing partnership with KBA.
Planning and installation like clockwork
Thomas Maul and management consultant, Martin Blume, reported on the planning and implementation of such a vast project. In addition to the press hall with the KBA Commander CT, the roughly 16,000 m² site now accommodates warehouse space, a new mailroom and dispatch hall and an integrated pre-press department. The installation and commissioning of the web press went without a hitch and within a very short period the entire production process, including pre-press, printing, post-press and dispatch, was running smoothly. The Commander CT delivers top print quality with extremely low waste. Ultra-fast edition changes require less handling and lower manning levels thanks to automated press presetting via the ErgoTronic control consoles and automatic plate changers.
KBA remains stalwart of the newspaper industry
KBA CEO, Claus Bolza-Schünemann, commented on the current state of the industry and on KBA's role as partner to the newspaper industry, “In the face of a stagnating global press market, the industry has still not entirely succeeded in eliminating the press capacity overhang. The recent insolvency of our German market competitor in Augsburg is due to the impact of plunging global sales for press manufacturers, currently some 50% down on 2007. As leading supplier to the newspaper industry, KBA is the only company among the large press manufacturers to have not only weathered the financial crisis without state aid or external funding but to have also gone on to post a pre-tax group profit for the third year in succession. Major contributory factors for this success are the positive actions of the Board of Directors who, in spite of occasional criticism from shareholders and analysts, retained more than half of the company's net income in profitable years in order to survive the lean years. It also ensure continued strong investment in research and development and drove the very timely expansion of its traditional press range for newspaper and commercial printers to cover less volatile sectors with little or no exposure to media transitions, such as packaging, metal decorating, security printing and marking and coding.” Furthermore, KBA will be the only conventional press vendor at drupa 2012 to launch an own-brand digital inkjet web press, co-developed with the American printing giant RR Donnelley and "Made in Germany" at KBA's main factory in Würzburg. In spite of having the industry's broadest product portfolio, KBA will continue its 200 year old tradition as an innovative and reliable professional partner to the newspaper industry, offering technological support to help master the challenges of a rapidly changing media world.
KBA sales director, Alexander Huttenlocher, presented the modern newspaper press portfolio and the technical highlights of the Commander CT: the portfolio is continually being updated and adapted to suit the evolving individual requirements of newspaper companies. The most recent example of this is the Commander CL unveiled at Ifra Expo 2011. With its modular design, the Commander CL is aimed at newspaper publishing houses that do not require the high degree of automation offered by the Commander CT.
Highly automated for flexible printing
The Commander CT in Weiden has a cylinder circumference of 910mm (35.8in) and a maximum web width of 1,890mm (74.4in). In addition to the aforementioned automation modules, the two towers are equipped with automatic colour register control, KBA CleanTronic automatic blanket washing and a central ink supply. The two KBA Pastomat CL reelstands are embedded in an automated KBA Patras A reel logistics system with integrated stripping station and daily storage.
The superstructure has two double turner decks, three formers above the KF 5 jaw folders, a section stitcher, a skip slitter and a variable Zip'n'Buy perforation unit. Half covers and flying pages are additional production options. Reel aligners, cut-off register controls, web edge/web centre controls and pre-former web guiding systems reduce start-up waste to a minimum. The press is controlled via two KBA ErgoTronic control consoles with KBA scheduling system, including KBA EasyStart for automatic press start-up and EasyStop for automatic press run-down.
Participants enjoyed an evening meal together in a typical Upper Palatinate restaurant before experiencing the night production run first-hand at the Weiden Print Centre.