Best practices, and process innovations
November 10, 2017

Best practices with newspaper production can be described as commercial or professional procedures that are accepted as being correct or most effective. Process innovations are new or significantly improved production methods, including significant changes in techniques, equipment and/ or software, which result in saving energy and material, leading to tangible cost benefits and improvement in quality. Kumar Natarajan says newspaper production has expanding horizons with regard to process and product innovations

In the pre-press section, fan-out correction software covers errors from plate-cut, exposing device, punch, bender, plate-gripping system and any mechanical alignment on the press. Registration correction should be applied in digital files. When registration errors are measured and modified before exposing the device, there is an improvement in print quality as well as easier control over registration fan-out/ angular corrections.

Ink optimisation software reduces up to 20 per cent CMY ink, and results in cost saving. It gives high quality with less ink. Low show-through, low set-off and faster drying are all achieved. Vio-green negative photo polymer plates eliminate the use of water, pre-wash, rinsing and effluent disposal. They reduce power consumption, maintenance and manual work as well.

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Optimised reduction in plate size with respect to machine design and reduced web width also results in cost saving. The use of automatic plate sorters saves make-ready time as there is less manual work involved. It sorts plates with respect to machine/ printing tower. Besides, prioritising editions is possible.

Inline printing plate quality management systems monitor all the plates produced during plate-making. This results in less production problems in the printing process, which in turn eases the burden of staff. The system gives automatic status signals when errors occur and the self-diagnosis capability cuts the time taken to identify problems. Soft-proofing systems eliminate hard proofs and serve as reference for printers. It is suitable for different paper brands and grades.

In the press section, the use of automatic guiding vehicles (AGV) with the newspaper warehouse and reel-stand avoids manual errors and saves time. No manual intervention is required with AGV. The web cleaner system fitted in reel-stand removes the dust from running reels. This results in both less blanket piling and improved print quality. It increases blanket life and less blanket washing solution is needed, with easy wash-up.

Reel core-end diameter for auto splicing can be set to optimum levels for newsprint saving with different brands. Splice pattern preparation at two-to-three degree angles for single patterns prevents auto-splice failures in reel-stands. Automatic controls in reel-stands save time, avoid errors and help manning optimisation. Wrapper-covered newsprint part-reels on shop-floor minimises risk of damage, the negative effects of humidity and dynamic roll expansion. The multiple web threading system from reel-stand to folder saves time and also requires less manpower.

Change of newsprint grammage to 40 GSM and reducing web width to optimum levels according to machine configuration saves newsprint cost. Printing without using dummy plates saves plate cost. Shaft-less machines multi-function and reduce make-ready time. Pre-inking gives good quality during start-up with less waste. Whole machine pre-inking at once saves time too.

Machine start-up speed reduction gives control over start-up waste. Use of panorama plates increases roller life and print quality. Removable ink troughs help quick changeover from normal cold-set to UV/heat-set. Ink agitator use in ink troughs enables even ink transfer throughout the width of the press during a run and maintains print quality throughout production.

Fully automatic plate changer use in printing towers helps error-free plate-fixing and speeds up the process, too. It saves make-ready time for quick changeover in-between production. Fixing accuracy is good and chances of error are less. Overall, there is less maintenance with the system.

Automatic colour and register control system with close loop controls reduces colour variations and ensures consistent print quality throughout the print run. It reduces make-ready time and involves less labor. Detection of production preparation and process failures, significant waste savings, alarm and error reporting, waste gate control, dumping unsellable copies and combined control of ink and damping are among the benefits of this system.

The automatic blanket washing system gives more blanket life, less waste, many washing options, manpower optimisation, efficient and quick cleaning, maintenance procedure rationalisation, cleaning of paper passing rollers, increased productivity and improved quality.

Automatic roller washing systems give good and efficient roller wash using comparatively less washing solution. They save time and cost. Silicone solution for glossy effect on GNP, online gluing and aromatic solution for product innovations are used. Web aligning systems and web positioning systems controls on paper passing rollers are used for web centering and folding controls.

Signature stitchers are used in folder for online pinning with newspaper and supplement products. They save time and eliminate extra work while giving high productivity at less maintenance. Quality pinning is also achieved.
Post-press section inserts, like other supplements, are placed inside the main paper using disc storage and inserters. Onserts are placed on top of the main paper using poly-bagging and onserters. Pre-printed poly bagging help onserts as well as provides space for advertisements on the tops of the poly-bags.

There are many innovations with regard to newspaper products – normal newsprint, glazed newsprint using UV/heat-set, etc. These are done by using different sizes of web width. Both broadsheets and tabloids have product innovations. Flaps in front, back or reverse sides, indexing jut-out, using specialty inks like fluorescent and metallic shades, aromatic print, 3D print, translucent jacket, progressive flaps, pseudo panorama and many other newspaper product innovations have already been tried. All this is a continuous process of development and mainly depends on the machine design. More innovations are possible using SNP/GNP with newspaper products in conventional, UV and heat-set process.

(The writer is chief manager-Manufacturing at the ABP Group in Kolkata. This article is based on his presentation at the WAN-IFRA Conference, part of the Business Models for Print Production session, a closed-door workshop. The pictures used here are slides from his presentation. He received his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Printing Technology from the College of Enginneering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai. He has more than 18 years experience in newspaper production, having also worked with the Deccan Herald and The Times of India.)

October 2017