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Los Angeles Times to add COLORMAN tower extensions to 10 of its 15 presses

Press release from the issuing company

January 5, 2004 -- Initiating one of the industry’s most ambitious pressroom upgrade projects, the Los Angeles Times has assigned MAN Roland to install COLORMAN tower extensions in two of its three Southern California production facilities. The units will be the first COLORMAN add-ons to run in North America, and will allow the Times to provide more color pages for its readers and advertisers. “We currently have the capacity to print up to six sections, 96 pages, with 24 pages of full color,” said. Mark H. Kurtich, Senior Vice President of Operations. “When we’re done with this project, we’ll still have six sections and 96 pages, but instead of 24 pages of full color, we’ll have 32.” Adding the eight pages of color will be COLORMAN tower additions attached to the Times’ ten existing Goss Colorliner presses. The project also involves reconfiguring all five of the paper’s Goss Retroliner presses, meaning that all 15 of the Times’ web press systems will be improved. Each upgraded press position, whether new COLORMAN towers or repositioned original equipment, will be able to run two webs. According to Kurtich: “We opened this project to competitive bidding with the four largest doublewide newspaper press manufacturers. MAN Roland won our business because they provide a complete, turnkey solution. MAN Roland is able to manage all phases of the entire project, while offering advantages in terms of experience, technology, service, support and training. “We think MAN Roland’s capabilities in that area are superb,” said Kurtich. “They understand how direct drive technology works, how it improves color quality, and tightens up registration. As we move forward, we’ll determine what potential advantages in energy conservation the shaftless technology of the COLORMAN towers can provide.” Kurtich reported that it was advertising demand for more attention-grabbing pages that prompted the upgrade. “We studied press layouts for the past couple of years and found four places we could add color on the presses to get eight additional pages of full color,” he noted. “We wanted the color in places that would yield the greatest benefit for advertisers — movie, real estate, automobile and national advertisers—and our revenues. It’s a multimillion dollar enhancement, and there’s a big potential for incremental advertising sales.” To capitalize as quickly as possible on that potential, the Times has called for a fast-track installation schedule. The first COLORMAN towers are slated to arrive in July, with all ten to be unpacked by the fall. Project completion is scheduled for the first quarter of ’05. “This timeframe is accelerated compared to past projects we’ve been involved in for two reasons,” Kurtich said. “The faster we can add these towers, the faster we can realize the revenue growth that COLORMAN towers will provide and our readers will realize the benefits of added color. Plus, we want to minimize disruption to our normal operating schedule in our three plants.” The Times’ project team worked out a complex schedule with MAN Roland relating to the tower add-on installations. They also negotiated internally with advertising, editorial and circulation staff to minimize operational downtime and ensure that the Times’ quality and delivery service are not impacted. The Times is relying on MAN Roland to make the upgrade run like clockwork in its role as project manager, according to Kurtich. “We’ve gone through other enhancement projects with the paper, and discovered how important project management is to bringing everything in on time and on budget. This is a highly complex project, so we selected the company we felt had the most experience and most dedicated approach to project management and overseeing all of the sub-pieces.” One of the more intricate parts of the job involves stacking existing Goss Colorliner four-couple A/B units to create eight-couple, four-high towers that will be installed on three of the Times’ five Retroliner presses. This will be the first time anyone will attempt to connect two A/B level Colorliners together. “This is a component not originally designed to be stacked,” Kurtich observed. The two remaining ‘Retroliner’ presses will be fitted with Goss Colorliner towers from a 16th press that is being removed. “There are a number of mechanical and other interface issues that need to be addressed. That’s why we chose MAN Roland as the most qualified vendor to do it because they were most energetic and the most committed to making it work.” MAN Roland is also coordinating the work of three other manufacturers. Masthead International Inc. is engineering the A/B stack assembly, rigging and installation. Rockwell Automation is upgrading all of the Times’ press controls from a Windows NT to a Windows 2000 platform, and the paper is replacing its Goss inkers with CGI Digital Page Packs. “Our approach is to look beyond the mechanics of any installation, and determine all of the ways we can help our clients transition more smoothly into a higher level technology,” said Vincent Lapinski, COO of Web Operations at MAN Roland Inc. “If the project involves interfacing with equipment from other manufacturers, we can do it. Or if other vendors are involved, we will support them. We understand the pressures of the newspaper business, so we’re ready to apply all of our expertise and technology to make our clients look good to their customers.” Training is also on the press maker’s agenda. “We have worked out a variety of training approaches with MAN Roland,” Kurtich said. “There will be classroom training both for the people who run the presses and for the technicians who maintain them. We will also be using a simulator to bring people up to speed. And we’ll have training on the floor as these new towers become available and begin to be used.” Kurtich said it’s too early to tell how the make-ready advancements that are part of the new COLORMAN tower extensions might improve his paper’s turnaround times. But he has considered their accelerated production rate: “The MAN Roland towers are rated at a higher speed than our existing presses. So I don’t know if it will speed them up, but I’m certain that it won’t slow them down.” The operations chief commented that replacing any of the Times’ 15 presses was never an option at this juncture. The systems were installed in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and were upgraded to a 50-inch page width in 1999. “We foresee a high degree of interest in the industry in tower add-ons as we move forward,” Kurtich said. “We’re at the forefront of the trend toward adding components to existing presses and enhancing our workflow as opposed to replacing entire systems. This is a very high profile project, and we’re pretty excited by the challenge and the opportunity it presents.” The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing company, is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country and the winner of 30 Pulitzer Prizes. The Times publishes five regional editions covering the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Orange and Ventura counties, San Fernando Valley and an Inland Empire edition covering Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as a National edition. The Times has used front-page color in its Main News section regularly since 1989. It launched its first attempt at using color in its editorial pages in late 1980.