State-of-the-art newspaper printing
Together with Q.I. Press Controls Mr Erik Hofmann welcomed over fifty guests at the innovated printing plant of 'Freie Presse'. In a relaxed atmosphere the visitors got a technically advanced demonstration of highly automated newspaper printing.
Reason to invite so many colleagues to the Chemnitz' operation was the commissioning and acceptance of the total refurbishment of the 'Freie Presse' printing plant in the second quarter of 2010. The new printing operation comprises a new workflow technology, capable to producing newspapers with minimal manpower fully complying with ISO 12647-3 utilising highly automated tools. During this project 'Freie Presse' replaced a twelve-towers Uniman from 1993. 'Freie Presse's new pressline comprises of a six tower 4-high satellite Colorman XXL in a 6/2-configuration, with all print towers being 4/4 and six webs at 201cm width over two folders of three formers wide. All recto-verso fullcolour printed webs are automatically set, controlled and adjusted to ISO 12647-3 printquality-level by the MARKLESS IDS colour control system; reason for Q.I. Press Controls to organise an Open House at 'Freie Presse'. But there are many other auxiliaries that were of interest, such as the Colorman's APL (Automated Plate Loading system) which is fed by a configuration of Kodak plate setters, the Nela plate-benders and the Nela plate-transporting system to the press' APL. Aurosys AGV's (Automatic Guided Vehicles) supply paper reels to the reelstands without any manual operation. All these elements, including IDS, are overseen and controlled by manroland's Printnet workflow and directly connected to Pecom. In summary, this multi-million investment gives 'Freie Presse' the best possible point of departure for a future oriented and labour minimised newspaper printing operation. This all was preceded by an automated Ferag mailroom configuration, implemented in 2008.
In his welcome- and opening-speech Erik Hofmann, Technical Director of 'Freie Presse', emphasised in his overview that it wasn't just a replacement of the older Uniman presses! 'Freie Presse's' refurbished printing and distribution operation should become an example of future-proof newspaper printing, all necessary to resist the growing pressure on the printed news- and advertising media. So, on one hand everything was organised with respect to employees, the environment and 'Freie Presse's' readers. On the other hand the refurbished and innovated printing plant had to be based upon an absolute minimum of labour-costs and the best and stable colour quality for readers and advertisers. The major contract partner to fulfil these demands was manroland. Hofmann was aware that when the production process was to rely on lower manpower, automation and extremely reliable systems should shoulder that challenging responsibility. 'Freie Presse' therefore specifically insisted on giving the total project-responsibility to one single main-contract partner. This to avoid interface issues between all the different suppliers' hardware- and software-technologies. Manroland were 'Freie Presse's' chosen contractor to fulfil the 'Freie Presse's' demands within above mentioned challenging framework. Not because of 'Freie Presse's' previous Uniman-relationship with manroland, but due to its guaranteed all-over responsibility to transform the old-style Uniman operation into a new innovative and fully integrated Colorman XXL operation. A decisive influence in this partnership came from strong subcontractors' input, such as with Q.I. Press Controls by integrating its IDS into manroland's Printnet-Pecom network. This also means a seamless interfacing with 'Freie Presse's' platemaking production. On the hardware side Q.I. Press Controls integrated twelve IDS scanning camera-systems, for each side of the six double side fullcolour printed webs.
After his introduction-speech Hofmann invited all guests to follow the production workflow from the beginning through to the printed production. Demonstrated production was a culture supplement for the same day's 'Freie Presse' (Berliner size 35x51cm / tabloid 35x25,5cm), produced in a total of 28 fullcolour tabloid-pages editorial, advertising and radio/television information. The production was a fullcolour printwith two reels (1x 4 tabloid pages and 1x 3 tabloid pages wide) folded in double production, along with a stitched section over one of two operating formers. For platemaking this resulted into 7x2x2x4colours equalling 112 printing plates. Blank positions on the cylinders were covered with blank plates. This means that a total of 192 plates had to be hung on two printing towers, whichin total can have a capacity of 576 singel plates; a huge number. Thus easy to understand why 'Freie Presse' looked for a fully automated platemaking in prepress and of course plate-setting for its Colorman XXL, which is capable for printing six plates wide and two plates in circumference (6/2). Apart from that physical robotisation requirement from Kodak/Nela and manroland APL plate-loading/unloading arms in the press, Freie Presse's' demonstration made it clear to all visitors how important it is to manage the fullcolour image data quickly and correctly from the prepress-rips for the proper setting off all 48 ink fountains on the Colorman. On this fast running Colorman, it would take far too long to get that setting done manually with too much waste consumption. In addition it is proven that human eyes all react different and potentially inaccurate on printing colours, specifically when print results have to be compared with proofs. In order to maintain the quality- and efficiency within the ISO 12647-3 standardisation, spectral and computerised procedures are sorely needed to support a future-oriented printing operation. Consequently 'Freie Presse' decided to select IDS from Q.I. Press Control to do that job. During this life demo at 'Freie Presse' the plate-loading and automated start-up happened so quickly that most visitors were flabbergasted this this technology-demo, was completed in minutes! All this was controlled by one operator per 4-high tower, including monitoring of the folder. The IDS is using the TIFF files from pre-press as a reference to control the ink-keys resulting in a "hands-off" system. This means that there is no operator intervention needed. Paper class type, imposition information, production start, etc. is coming from PECOM reducing the chance on operator errors to ZERO. IDS is a truly "auto-start" system as demonstrated during the open house at Chemnitz where several ½ webs were running without the need to program the IDS system. For a better understanding about the functionality of IDS all the guests joined Mr. Erik van Holten, co-director of Q.I. Press Controls for a full in dept presentation.
During Erik van Holten's 'Closed loop solutions' presentation he not only explained how IDS is capable to work completely as a "hands-off" system by networking with 'Freie Presse's' Printnet and rips, but also how the accurate colour-image data are given as reference-data in CIELab*-data to IDS. From that moment on, IDS acts intelligent and compares actual colour-data from a chosen pressline. Within nano-seconds the IDS-controller analyses the real colour value with a target value and decides which adjustments have to be made by which of the ink-keys and how much. This is all done within the parameters 'known' by IDS because of its basic setting, based upon a ISO-standardisation procedure in order to know the relation between the Tiff data and the printed data. This procedure enables IDS to act and to guide a press as quickly as possible to the optimal colour-quality. Extensive graphs in Van Holten's PowerPoint presentation underlined that statement, but it was also visible during Freie Presse's life-demo. Obviously audience-attendees were questioning Van Holten about the waste reduction and investment profit. As Hofmann said earlier IDS' measuring time requirement is around 500 to 750 revolutions to produce saleable copies. 'Further optimisation and production within ISO 12647-3 specification is achieved within 1000 to 1500 copies after start-up' says Van Holten. He furthermore claims; 'without closed loop colour control it is impossible to print in accordance to ISO 12647-3'. This statement is very confronting however the truth. IDS is now installed and effectively acting on 61 fullcolour newspaper printing towers worldwide. In addition Van Holten explained how IDS can accurately inform pressroom management with regards to the quality- and efficiency levels of different jobs, print-runs, different shifts etc, all of course important in the goal to become a future-proof oriented newspaper printer. In a last question Van Holten was asked to give an indication about IDS' return on investment. 'Obviously depending on each individual situation an IDS-conducted ISO 12647-3 print-operation might safe a 30% of the printing costs'. This number is based on 30% savings on staff cost, 15% waste savings, a reduction in claims for compensation and higher productivity.