The first editions of the Longmont Daily Times-Call and Loveland Reporter-Herald to be printed on Lehman Communications' brand new manroland UNISET press hit the streets early Tuesday morning, May 19. After completing due diligence on models from several manufacturers, the executive team decided to make a change. The new custom-configured manroland UNISET 75 press brings new print speed and expanded color capabilities that bode well for Lehman advertisers and readers throughout Colorado's Front Range region and beyond.
"Five or six years ago we started having issues with color capacity and speed," said Dale Carr, Director of Commercial Print Sales for Lehman Communications. "We're a major printer for everything on newsprint including magazines, tabloids, and broadsheets with different web widths, upgrade papers and more. Most of the magazines are contract work, such as parks and recreation guides and similar local-area publications.
"With the new press, we expect to continue the type of work we're doing now but much more of it. Being able to run a 64-page tab with full-color on every page is unique to this marketplace, especially on the contract side. This will be a real plus with our customers," Carr said.
The new UNISET 75 and Lehman's production operation are housed in the 60,000 square-foot Print Center in Berthoud, located 45 miles north of Denver and about halfway between Longmont and Loveland, said Publisher Ed Lehman.
"The editorial and advertising departments will stay in their respective cities. The production facility gives us the advantage of having our newsprint on site, which will make the whole operation more efficient."
Comprehensive research leads to manroland
Mr. Lehman said projected growth and long-term needs were key issues that were considered when the decision to look into a press was made.
"No one can predict the future. But you certainly can plan for it and the best time to do it is before you really need to make a move."
Lehman management contacted several manufacturers who could provide the press size and speed needed. A series of on-site visits to operations running each company's equipment were scheduled. Ultimately, three finalists were selected for detailed presentations and proposals.
Several specific UNISET features impacted Lehman's decision to select manroland. The automatic web-up system is the industry's fastest at 50 meters per minute. The turbo dampening system is designed for flexibility to handle multi-ple substrates. Another is the set of automation options that are linked with manroland's printnet press controls. Telepresence, manroland's impressive remote diagnostic services package, played a key role.
Carr and Ken Amundson, General Manager for the Loveland Reporter-Herald, travelled to Germany last year for a visit that involved more than simply seeing new presses being built at manroland's Plauen plant. Amundson said the UNISET's shutter type turbo dampening system offers a number of decisions regarding web width and half-rolls be made up-front. "We were able to talk directly with the engineers so the turbos could be precisely designed to fit our application."
System modules allow for specific configurations
Modular design is standard with manroland UNISET presses, which enabled Lehman to custom-configure the entire unit to fit their multiple needs.
"We designed the press not only for the newspapers but for backup. We have four towers and four reel stands," Carr said. "More importantly, we put in two folders so we can 'double out' quite a bit. I also can run three webs in one folder, cross those three webs and run into another folder. Many of our runs are 16-page tabs or less, so the goal is to double out (print two at the same time) as much as we can, based on color and page capacity."
Carr said one folder used primarily for newspapers has two formers on it.
"This way I can run four sections. The other is a quarter-folder with just one former and is basically a commercial folder. But we can use it to back up the dailies and print half folds, broadsheets and other things as well. We also had to improve our post-print process with a faster inserter, too. You can't print at 35,000 sheets an hour with an inserter that runs at 15,000 because you would never get the dailies out in time."
Installation of the UNISET began in mid-February and was completed three weeks ahead of schedule. This enabled testing to be finished in April and several live product newspaper sections to be printed prior to the May 19 first edition full runs.
Pressroom training draws raves
Putting an all-new press with advanced technology features to work added even greater emphasis to the level of training for Lehman Communications crew.
"We received all the training we expected and more," Mr. Lehman said. "The manroland trainer was very hands-on and helped us learn and understand all about the press."
Carr said one of the biggest challenges during the training period was how to continuing producing newspapers while getting everyone time on the new press.
"With four shifts and a total of 20 people (including supervisors and joggers), giving everyone a fair shot was tough. We did spend some overtime and did whatever it took to initially get our lead pressmen trained.
"We were also impressed that manroland had an interest in providing training for several departments, not just the press people," added Mr. Lehman . "During the early sessions the trainer did some awareness programs for our advertising, editorial and production people. This was especially helpful since we had some changes with the new press by going from a 22-1/4 inch cut-off to 21 inches.
"This also gave us the opportunity to bring in some of our commercial customers, as we have to get them converted along with our own publications. In the process, we could get them pumped up about our expanded four-color availability and other advantages that the new press brings to them. It was a great marketing tool."
As future editions of the Longmont Daily Times-Call and Loveland Reporter-Herald go to press, optimism reigns throughout the Lehman Communications enterprise despite the volatility in today's marketplace.
"This is a dynamic area of a great state," Mr. Lehman said. "We are honored to have done business here for more than 50 years as a company. There are always challenges but we think the future looks bright."
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