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The Irish Times In Full Production At New Facility with Agfa Technology

Press release from the issuing company

Agfa Digital Workflow And Computer-To-Plate Technology Exceed Productivity Targets. Mortsel, Belgium – 23 September 2002 – On 20 September 2002 The Irish Times officially opened the doors to its new facility in City West, Dublin. Technology and Resources Director Seamus McCague attributes much of the newspaper’s increase in productivity and quality to the Agfa Polaris computer-to-plate systems and InteliNet workflow software. "Without doubt we have raised productivity and quality standards," says McCague, "and by getting plates to the press faster can offer greater topicality and later deadlines to our customers. When considering the key aspects of digital production – workflow and CtP – we evaluated a number of vendors – and I have to say that Agfa came out well in front. They have provided us with an end-to–end solution, have people here in Ireland on the ground, and with their expertise could integrate our existing front-end legacy systems. When you need to produce over 180 plates an hour (per machine) dependably, this is where the Polaris systems score. This plus the superior N91 photopolymer plate, delivers a superb image time after time. All interested parties who have now witnessed the final end product – and this includes the important real-estate market – will attest to its crisp image, sharp type and colour quality. And it’s still early days." The Arduous Task It took eighteen months of planning, development and implementation to get The Irish Times in full production at its new facility at City West. The 70 million euro investment has already proved how vital the decision was to move the production of this flagship newspaper to a new site. In its former facility print runs were limited to one a day – a fraught situation for any daily newspaper in a rapidly changing world where travel and communication have become instant. Congestion around the D’Olier Street location was also slowly strangling the operation. Transferring the entire print production of The Times, while maintaining services in the city centre, was a major undertaking. "We have always considered ourselves as an innovative company with a keen eye for business" said McCague. "Our new operation needed to provide a strengthened brand and influence in the increasingly competitive market that we operate in. Advertisers are demanding a higher quality colour product and at D’Olier Street we were limited to a total of 12 colour pages – where we could have filled 48. In fact our first full test run with all the new systems in place – was targeted at the World Cup – and we produced 64 in full colour." McCague’s considerable challenge has been to produce a high-quality product with all new production systems operating in harmony in a totally integrated plant. It has been achieved with the intensive support of his vendors. Agfa, for digital workflows and computer-to-plate, plates and processing; Man Roland for the massive eight-unit Geoman press and two folders; and Muller Martini for mailroom systems. Key to the increase in quality was the total digitisation of workflow and plate making, which Agfa delivered with IntelliNet software and their most powerful Polaris CtP systems. Two of these now sit in the press room known as the Quiet Room and are manned by only two pressmen. Production capacity is geared not only for the 130,000 run 120-page newspaper, but for the expansion by The Irish Times into contract commercial printing. This at present relates to a small tabloid for the Irish Feed business but will be joined shortly by a 64-page colour magazine supplement for The Farmers Journal. ‘It’s surely a fine start to our new enterprise’ says McCague ‘and it has been a very satisfying experience. We have saved money on the total cost of ownership, impressed our customers – generating more business- and have maintained the motivation of our workforce here at City West – who can say more than that?"