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Indianapolis Star gets a 75% boost in color ads with its new GEOMAN presses

Press release from the issuing company

July 21, 2003 -- A year ago The Indianapolis Star was still settling into its new $72 million production center. The focus was on ramping up four GEOMAN presses a step at a time until the entire paper could be produced on the 126-couple system. Today the Star is celebrating its successful start-up, with color ad revenues skyrocketing and productivity continually rising, as crews get comfortable with all the new technology. Leading the innovations is a new press hall, which was built from the ground up to make the Gannett-owned property one of the most highly automated newspapers in the world. It encompasses over 30,672 sq ft on two levels, and is at the heart of a 260,000 sq ft complex, called the Pulliam Production Center. But as impressive as the new facility is, what it’s producing has become the talk of the town. “We have seen a significant improvement on the quality and color of the newspaper,” says Bill Bolger, Vice President of Production. “That’s the reason we bought these new presses in the first place.” The drive to superior quality is driven by a corporate impetus at the Indianapolis Star. Gannett does an extensive print check program every two months in which the print quality of the entire paper is scored. “Since we started using our GEOMAN presses, our quality scores have climbed up continually,” Bolger says. “Now we are in the top five among Gannett’s double wide newspapers.” The Indianapolis Star has seen a significant increase in color advertising revenue associated with the new presses. “The color looks great and we’re benefiting greatly from in it because we can run significantly more color ads,” according to Bolger. “In fact the number of color ads has risen by seventy-five percent since we installed these presses.” The paper’s advanced color capabilities are turning more advertisers into satisfied customers. The GEOMAN presses let the Star offer more color advertising opportunities, particularly in the most desirable A section. They also equip the paper to produce more color sections. The increase in full color production makes it difficult for the paper to precisely measure the added productivity its GEOMAN systems are delivering. The production realities between color and black & white don’t fit into a neat equation. “It’s kind of hard to compare makeready times because we’re running so much more color on the GEOMAN presses,” Bolger explains. “But we have seen our newsprint waste figures come down considerably. We are now in the 1200 copy range in terms of makeready and selling high quality newspapers.” One major difference is that the paper raised its print quality standards since installing GEOMAN presses. “In our old plant we would have been letting papers out the door that we’re now throwing away as trash,” Bolger observes. “We have a higher quality commitment with the new presses. And even with that, our waste numbers are down.” Over the past year, Bolger’s crews have gained considerable proficiency in utilizing MAN Roland’s PECOM press operating system, particularly its ability to preset ink zones. “The presses start up very quickly that way,” he notes. “As our press operators have learned more they are betting better and better in reducing our makereadies.” PECOM also helps in terms of laying out the presses to accommodate different jobs. “We’re also benefiting from all of the automation that PECOM controls such as automatic web-up of the presses,” the production chief says. The Indianapolis Star has also automated its reel transport and handling to continually supply its new presses with newsprint. The system is integrated with an automated roll loading system in the reel room to produce significant labor savings. The extensive use of automation is critical because the Star had been running six presses in its old downtown plant. Now it’s operating four in what has basically become an around-the-clock operation. “We do commercial type work in the morning,” Bolger reports. “Sunday and daily advances are printed during the day. And we run the main at night. So we have a full three shift schedule.” Before the Star upgraded to the GEOMAN presses, it contracted out all of all of its commercial work to outside printers. Now it’s producing two-to-three commercial products on a regular basis. “For instance we print a four-page insert for Eyeglass World,” says Bolger. “And we’re doing another of similar size for a mattress retailer. Our latest commercial project involved coupon books that are configured as a quarter fold TV-sized product that is cut in half. We’re also doing commercial work that goes into other newspapers.” One of the paper’s biggest new projects involves using the quarter folder on one of our GEOMAN presses to produce its own TV guide. The result is a non-stop, low labor process. The books are printed, glued, folded and trimmed in-line. Then they go from the trimmer into stackers and feed directly to an automatic palletizer. “We’re producing 400,000 TV books that way each week,” says Bolger. “Then some weeks we also produce a color real estate section or a health section using the same process.” Bolger’s crews have also become GEOMAN fans: “At first they were apprehensive because of the size and height of the new presses. They were also concerned about getting along well with the new technology. But MAN Roland training has helped there. Now they find the press responds well to the things they change. They’re able to control essentials like registration and ink lay-down easier than ever before thanks to PECOM.” The Indianapolis Star’s GEOMAN systems are living up to their city’s reputation for speed. Their standard running range is 70,000 to 72,000 copies per hour. “Above all, our crews have great pride in putting out a high quality paper,” says Bolger. “Now they have the tools to do that well.”

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