PUEBLO, COLORADO - The decision to upgrade in this economy doesn't always seem like the right way to go. However, after initiating a study starting late in 2009, the leadership at the Pueblo Chieftain decided to move forward with an upgrade to their 1996 manroland UNISET press with modern controls, and the latest PECOM control console technology from manroland.
"Anytime you go into your electrical components on a press, you get real nervous because a lot of things can happen and most of them are bad," said Ned Sutton, Production Director for the Pueblo Chieftain. "So I was very surprised when we were able to complete the upgrade in two weeks without our two-shift, seven days a week operation losing any production." To accomplish this fete, manroland service technicians were assigned to the Pueblo Chieftain, focused on accomplishing the task based on the schedule developed along with the customer. They worked on the upgrade along with a team of two or three of the Chieftain's staff in odd hours when the press was not needed for production. This teamwork allowed the Chieftain to accelerate a process that might have taken months to complete and to accomplish it in just fourteen days. The team approach also proved to be an excellent opportunity for the staff to get professional training on the system they would soon be responsible for maintaining. Each day the manroland technicians would come in early and devise a game plan for the day. The basic plan for the day generally involved taking down one of the presses' units, replacing the controls and installing a touch screen unit control. The plan also detailed how the Chieftain staffers would be utilized during that particular session. "We have always worked in this way with manroland," Sutton said. "Whenever I have manroland technicians in the building for an extended period of time, I want my staff to learn as much as they can from them. I also think manroland enjoys coming here because we are so cooperative." While the controls upgrade was justified based on having far more reliable and readily available advanced solid state electronics, the Chieftain is also seeing a number of important benefits that were not fully anticipated.
The most significant of these is waste reduction. Sutton said, "The new controls allow us to achieve register at much slower speeds." This has resulted in an immediate waste reduction of about 1.5 percent. As his team becomes more proficient at using this capability, Sutton anticipates that this savings will reach 2 percent by the end of the year. "When you spend a couple million dollars on paper every year, that amounts to a considerable repeat savings," he said. The reliability of the modern electronics has also proven to be of immediate benefit, allowing the Chieftain staff to much more effectively troubleshoot the press, thereby further minimizing downtime.
A user-friendly touchscreen control was also part of the upgrade and alarm data is substantially more comprehensive. These factors have already made it easier to operate and manage the press and further develop maintenance staff. Sutton believes that the Pueblo Chieftain is unusual in the extent to which it focuses on maintenance. It is an operating philosophy that has served the company well. "Several years after installing the manroland press, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly publications, from as far away as Denver began noticing the quality we were producing. These publishers signed on with us because they thought our printing looked like USA Today," he said "We work really hard at it. That's why The Pueblo Chieftain is one of the small number of papers in the United States that has SNAP certification. We have had that certification for the past 8 or 9 years." (SNAP is a standard promulgated by the Newspaper Association of America . It stands for specifications for newsprint advertising production, and involves printing test forms and sending print samples to a panel of judges.) "During the same period of time, we have grown our commercial operations to increase our paper's revenue streams. This has really helped the paper stay on top of the financial problems that all newspapers are facing right now. It all has to do with our ability to put out an exceptionally high quality product," he said. Sutton says he is delighted with the decision to upgrade the press, which will help the paper to maintain its dual position as quality newspaper publisher and commercial printing operation.