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Panpa Bulletin : February 2007
Agfa's CtP systems meet large PANPA Bulletin February 2007 38 PRODUCTION CASE STUDY As a leading supplier of newspaper computer-to-plate systems (CtP), Agfa Graphics can boast a wide range of solutions to meet the needs of any sized operation. A small regional newspa- per publisher, Murray Pioneer, is the latest convert to Agfa digital CtP with a new :Advantage XS specifcally designed for budget-conscious, low-run operations seek- ing the advantages of a digital pre-press environment. At the other end of the scale, metropoli- tan newspaper publisher Nationwide News is reaping the benefts of four, fully-auto- mated :PolarisX plate lines to handle its 650,000-plus annual plate turnover. Murray Pioneer gets new :Advantage Originally known as the Renmark Pioneer and starting out as a weekly, hand-written foolscap sheet back in 1892, the South Aus- tralian Murray Pioneer now has a circula- tion of almost 7000 and is published twice a week. The newspaper print operation, located in Renmark (near the Victorian bor- der), publishes six newspapers– Renmark’s The Murray Pioneer (printed on Tuesdays and Fridays) and, published every Wednes- day, The Loxton News, Waikeri’s The River News, Gawler’s The Bunyip, Pinnaroo’s The Border Times, and The Mid-North Broad- caster of Burra. Time and labour savings were behind the company’s decision to replace its ana- logue prepress and go “digital”. According to Murray Pioneer’s produc- tion manager Barry Drogemuller, remov- ing the labour-intensive flm stripping step made the plate making process 50 percent quicker. “We have to turn around a lot of plates in a short amount of time,” he explained. “On Tuesdays we print six or seven different newspapers but they’re not all the same run. There may be two or three runs and we have to put a lot of plates through.” “We were fairly quick [at flm stripping] and the people doing it were good at it, but if we had to get someone else to do the job it took a lot longer. “With CtP we know the machine will put out ‘X’ amount of plates per hour, whereas be- fore we couldn’t be sure because it varied according to the skill of the operator.” Murray Pioneer’s newspapers are printed on a three-unit Goss Community web-off- set press combined with a Tensor four-high tower (seven Heidelberg sheetfed presses operate at JCIrving). Using its new Agfa: Advantage unit, Murray Pioneer now produces up to 250 plates each week compared with around 150 using the analogue system. Also, without the flm step, the CtP’s frst-generation process produces a better quality image. The CtP system, duplicated at both print sites, includes an :Advantage XS violet platesetter with an online VPP68 processor. It features a single violet laser for imaging: N91v photopolymer plates, throughput of up to 85 plates per hour, multiple resolutions between 1000 and 2540 dpi, and includes the 3-point FleX registration system also found in the high-end :PolarisX devices. Agfa’s :Arkitex NewsDrive powers the system’s front end, sending a steady data stream to the imaging device for fast plate making, and the inclusion of the: Arkitex Pair module allows for automatic page pairing and imposition adjustments. A new addition to Agfa’s compact: Advantage platesetter range, ( the :Advan- tage X models offer manual-only plate loading making them ideally suited to the demands of smaller newspapers and semi- commercial printers. They can be used as the primary output device, or as a backup to fully-automated:PolarisX or: Advantage units. According to Drogemuller, Murray Pioneer chose the :Advantage XS because it best-suited the company’s budget and plate-making needs. The system was also easy to use, with the two main operators needing only two days’ training in Mel- bourne and remaining staff taught in-house. Another major factor in its choice of CtP system was Murray Pioneer’s longstanding relationship with Agfa. “We briefy looked at other products but we didn’t really consider them,” he says. “Agfa’s service has just been so good.” The new equipment has run reliably and without problem since its installation in September 2006. Aware of its distance from Adelaide and other major city support, the company installed an identical system at JC Irving, to provide back-up for either site if it was ever needed. “That’s why we bought the two machines,” says Drogemuller. “We have to be self-suffcient because we’re too far away from everyone out here not to be.” NWN allows for expansion Sydney-based Nationwide News (NWN) was the frst metropolitan-daily newspaper printer to convert its analogue prepress to an all-digital CTP system*. The Agfa installation in late 2005 raised many challenges (like keeping production fowing during changeover and re-train- ing staff) but, 12 months on, the workfow effciencies, waste and cost reductions and environmental benefts have proved it was the right move. NWN is part of Australia’s largest newspaper group, News Limited, whose publications include The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, The Australian, mX, inserts and pre-prints as well as some Cumberland community newspapers. Its Chullora print centre operates all day, every day and handles over 650,000 plates annually. With press upgrades underway and a sixth press planned, NWN reviewed its pre-press system in 2005. “Because of the volume of work going through the plate room and the increasing work we expected, we either had to expand the number of analogue lines or rethink CtP,” explains Jim Nally, general manager of the Print Centre. Agfa’s CtP proposal met NWN’s criteria, including good ROI, a proven track-record and reliable service back-up. It was Agfa’s biggest Australian newspaper installation – four independent plate lines each comprising a :Polaris XEV violet-laser platesetter, Haase VSL65 plate processor, Strobbe multifunctional vision punch bender and 12-bin plate sorting and stacking units. A full :Arkitex workfow system (including Director, Producer, AutoInk, and GrafxRips) was installed at both the Print Centre and Edition Control at Holt Street. The XML-based :Arkitex workfow is the “backbone” of the system, providing editorial-to-press integration. According to NWN’s production technology manager David Almond, it improved productivity signifcantly through automating previously time-consuming, manual tasks. “We could run the CtP without :Arkitex, but we’d probably never get a paper out because of the time it would take. It gives us greater visibility to track the system at Agfa Graphics reveals how it's newspaper CtP systems have improved productivity at two very different newspaper publishing companies.
November December 2006