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The Axel Springer Mailroom in Essen-Kettwig Gets Updated

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Press release from the issuing company

Retrofitting: An Investment that Pays Off  

Thanks to Muller Martini’s extensive, two-year retrofit program, Axel Springer AG now has the same level of productivity in the mailroom in Essen-Kettwig in Germany as at the time of commissioning 14 years ago. 

The comprehensive, two-year mailroom reconditioning mainly became necessary for control technology reasons. “However, some mechanical issues had also occurred,” acknowledges Printing and Distribution Manager Reimer Henschel. “Owing to the consistent increase in small units as a result of ever smaller insert zones, we have to stop and start up the machines again much more frequently than in the past. That naturally results in greater wear – similarly to a plane that performs a lot of take-offs and landings.” However, the main focus of the retrofit program in Essen-Kettwig are the electronic components. “After a decade, an entirely new generation of controls exists, so our electronics cycle was coming to an end,” says Heiko Krebs, Printing and Distribution Production Manager.  

Uninterrupted Production

The retrofit program encompasses all the machines. As Krebs explains, “that is especially important in a mailroom because rather than having stand-alone components, all the systems are linked with one another”. The program is also being carried out while the mailroom is in operation. Muller Martini has reconditioned, for instance, every single FlexiRoll buffer in the plant, providing Axel Springer AG with substitutes for each. “We haven’t needed to limit our production at any time during the retrofit program,” says Plant Manager Dipl.-Ing. Horst Caspar. 

The plant manager says that the key goals of the comprehensive reconditioning – maintaining output and minimizing interruptions – have been achieved: “We now have the same level of productivity as when the machines were commissioned 14 years ago. And since we have lower failure rates, our production costs are lower. In other words, we’ve met the goals of the retrofit program.”

Still Producing in 20 to 30 Years 

A retrofit program for the mailroom is not only a technical necessity after a certain period of operation, but also an investment that pays off, says Henschel. “After all, we plan to continue producing here for another 20 to 30 years, with our business continuing to be that of printing newspapers.”

In Essen-Kettwig, where some 200 people are employed in two shifts, Axel Springer AG produces several daily and Sunday newspapers, both its own and third-party titles, in broadsheet and tabloid format with a total run of up to a million copies daily, namely the Springer flagship Bild, as well as Bild am Sonntag, Die Welt, Welt am Sonntag, Welt kompakt, Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Euro am Sonntag. The plant also has commercial work from time to time, including the customer magazine of the Kaufland supermarket chain with a run of 3 million copies.  


The Extensive Retrofit Program at Axel Springer in Essen-Kettwig

  • NewsGrip conveyors: The track materials were replaced in 2010 and 2011, and the dynamic Advanced Drive System (ADS) has now been installed. In addition, all eight conveyors have been updated with a new function for motor phase failure monitoring.
  • FlexiRoll buffers: Belts are being replaced at three six-roll buffers and six double wind/unwind stations. The complete control system is being upgraded from Eberle to B&R. Muller Martini has reconditioned the various systems in the factory (with substitutes being provided during the work). 
  • NewsLiner newspaper inserting systems: The pocket carousel chains have been replaced at all three lines and the central operating control units are being equipped with new backup central control unit computers.
  • CN 80 and CN 25 compensating stackers: Various wear parts such as divider systems, divider wheels and turntables have been reconditioned or replaced, control cabinets have been rewired and new controls – from Muller Martini control system Z80 (also known as GCS) to B&R – have been installed.


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