Australia’s gxpress Discusses Newspaper Printing with QuadTech’s David Mitchell

Sussex, WI--August 2006--The following article was published in a gxpress special publication—July, 2006, p. 17.

There are currently over 10,000 newspaper press lines in the world. Only a relatively small percentage of these are already fitted with ancillary controls but this looks set to change, with countries such as Australia and New Zealand leading the way.

On a global scale, some commentators predict that 80 per cent of newspaper presses will be fitted with ancillary controls by the end of the decade. Despite the fact that newspapers have been under pressure for several years, from declining ad spend and the impact of alternative media, the global market for new presses still averages a healthy $2.4 billion per year. Closed-loop controls will be the norm on the majority of these new presses, making it necessary for owners of older presses to upgrade their production controls to remain competitive.

“Extensions and upgrades are a key current trend,” states David Mitchell, manager of QuadTech Asia Pacific. “Press utilisation is a growing issue to many printers. The need for more capacity, to print lifestyle sections, supplements and contract work, can often be resolved by making an old press more efficient, rather than investing in new hardware.

“QuadTech has worked closely with Plunkett & Johnson, our exclusive agent in Australia and New Zealand, to provide retrofit register and ribbon control solutions on many older presses, thereby enhancing productivity and performance. Working with a company that is so in touch with the market, QuadTech understands the issues and can help newspapers optimise output.”

With a history in newspapers starting with the ‘Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser’ in 1803, Australia and New Zealand have seen massive changes to an industry that began by publishing just shipping news, auction results and agricultural notices. The main change in the last decade reflects the market in the rest of the world, being the continued explosion of colour. The colour revolution is fuelled by demands from readers as well as high-dollar advertisers striving to achieve greater impacts for their products. To gain impact, creativity, content and quality are all under the microscope.

Mitchell elaborates: “National advertising is the driving force behind colour. Advertisers invest heavily in creative advertising concepts to present their products through a wide variety of media. Other printed media, such as magazines, have more effective colour control processes than newspapers. This is the challenge. In modern consumer advertising, colour quality is money and newspapers need to attract their share.”

One Australian company that is meeting this challenge through the use of technology is Spot Press. Based in Marrickville, NSW, it has recently embraced the quality benefits of press ancillaries by investing in the QuadTech Register Guidance System with MultiCam, the QuadTech Ribbon Control System with MultiCam and QuadTech Data Central. All of these are integrated on the QuadTech ICON Platform, which gives singlepoint control of the press through a single operator screen.

Spot Press offers heatset and coldset web offset printing of newspapers, magazines and catalogues. The equipment, installed on the company’s Goss Magnum single-width press, is an integral part of its goal to win more colour work. Company director, Dimitri Georgantzakos, explains: “With the improvements made in newspaper printing, brand managers demand and expect colour reproduction of their advertising content to approach that produced on a commercial press. This means that the entire industry is driven to improved quality, while still providing the product to our customers within the same tight timeframe. Investing in registration technology brings us closer to achieving this goal.”

Ancillaries are also helping companies in the newspaper industry save on waste. Waste reduction has always been an important issue, but it has experienced a change of emphasis in the past few years due to an increasingly competitive environment. Newspapers once had the luxury of printing only their own titles and having total control over their own financial destiny. Today, where alternative media is trying to steal readership and advertising dollars, publishers need to deliver a wider variety of products, often running presses 24/7 to get a healthy return on investment.

As a result, product diversification has become another key trend, with newspaper companies realising that the value of what they produce is not only the ink on paper, but content and segmentation choices, as well as the option to deliver by a variety of distribution channels. But printing many different products means many more job changes, and the potential for a massive increase in waste.

The key to waste reduction is to get saleable copies in a minimum number of press impressions from start-up. To do this, sophisticated technology is needed to bring a product into registration as soon as possible. QuadTech’s MultiCam sensor recognises register marks when they are only just visible—even before the printing parameters of the press, such as the ink/water balance, are stable.

Mitchell comments: “The MultiCam sensor is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ camera like those some of our competitors use. It is a 640 x 480 pixel sensor that harnesses specially designed hardware to enable multitasking of mark-recognition and other essential calculations. Scanning at 30 times per second, it enables the system to lock onto the register marks and begin correcting errors faster than ever before. The impact in reducing waste during makeready and other periods of register disturbance, such as after a web splice, is significant.”

For example, with the right printing conditions, presses fitted with QuadTech ancillaries can reach the IFRA registration standard in less than 400 copies. Compare this to the norm of 1000-1500 revolutions before good copies are printed and the savings are staggering. Focusing on the intricate aspects of registration has allowed QuadTech to give its users a distinct advantage in the increasingly competitive world of newspaper publishing. But, in the extremely time-sensitive newspaper printing industry, strong after-sales support for
the product is equally important. Mitchell concludes,

“QuadTech offers the best of both worlds—the most advanced technology, delivered with prompt, reliable technical support from Plunkett & Johnson, which has represented us in Australia and New Zealand for almost 20 years. No other company can offer this mix.”

About BALDWIN | Vision Systems (formerly QuadTech)

BALDWIN’s Vision Systems division is the world’s leading innovator of advanced color and inspection technology for the printing industry. BALDWIN | Vision Systems sells its automated control systems in more than 100 countries to the packaging and converting markets, web offset newspaper and commercial markets, and publication gravure market. BALDWIN maintains a worldwide network of sales and service operations, and is privately owned by BW Forsyth Partner, the investment arm of multi-billion dollar global manufacturing and engineering consulting firm Barry-Wehmiller.


Craig Du Mez, BALDWIN | Vision Systems
Phone: +1 414 566 7500

Clare Porter, Bespoke
Phone: +44 (0) 1737 215200