EAE wins major retrofit order from Reach Printing Services

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Reach Printing Services opted for a complete retrofit of all PCs belonging to the EAE systems on the WIFAG evolution 371 press line
Reach Printing Services opted for a complete retrofit of all PCs belonging to the EAE systems on the WIFAG evolution 371 press line

Reach plc., UK’s biggest newspaper publisher, is also a leading player in the magazines and online media business. Apart from more than 240 local and regional newspapers, Reach also publishes the national Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star as well as sundry other newspapers and magazines with a nationwide circulation.

Its subsidiary Reach Printing Services Ltd., one of the premier print providers in the United Kingdom, is responsible for producing the newspaper print editions. In addition to the Reach Group’s own titles, Reach Printing Services also contract-prints a variety of newspapers and magazines on behalf of other publishers. The two largest sites are located in Oldham (nearly 71,000 square meters of floor space) and Watford, though the company also has facilities in Birmingham, Cardonald (Scotland), Luton and Teesside.

Out of these six sites, the printing center in Oldham, which employs 148 people, outputs the highest page volume. Between six and seven million newspapers and magazines leave the premises every week. Reach Group products account for around 55% of the site’s total print volume; the remainder are external contracts like The Guardian, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and The i plus many other titles. Production takes place on seven days a week at night and four days a week in the daytime.

The print shop in Oldham works with a WIFAG evolution 371 web press line, which was commissioned in 2006 and originally comprised four sections but was expanded by an additional section in 2008 and again in 2009. The line has 19 four-high towers overall as well as six jaw folders and 19 reel stands. It has been operated and controlled from the outset using press control and control console technology from EAE Engineering Automation Electronics and is equipped with eight EAE Baltic Star control consoles. For many years now, the relationship between Reach Printing Services and EAE has been marked by a constructive partnership. The print provider first signed a Service Level Agreement with EAE back in 2011 and has since enjoyed 24/7 hotline support along with a series of other benefits and privileges.

Rejuvenation therapy for the EAE systems’ IT base

The need to modernize the computer systems of the control consoles and the section controls in order to maintain production reliability was recognized some time ago. Compared to the heavy mechanical components of newspaper web presses, computer hardware and PCs tend to have a relatively short lifecycle. Malfunctions and breakdowns typically occur more frequently towards the end of the service life, with direct implications for press availability.

“We have started experiencing equipment failures and the risk of impairments to our production was rising steadily,” reports Alan Marsden, IT Systems Manager at Reach Printing Systems (Oldham) Ltd. “In our experience, spare parts for our computers were getting harder and harder to come by. On top of that, support for the operating systems we use has been withdrawn.”

After careful deliberation of the options, the Reach managers responsible decided in favour of a complete retrofit of all PCs belonging to the EAE systems on the WIFAG web press. They did this with the aim of increasing system reliability and availability and extending the life of the equipment as a whole. “We expect a retrofit specialist to provide us with a turnkey solution at a reasonable cost and to implement it without disrupting or interrupting our production workflows any more than absolutely necessary,” Marsden explains. EAE was an obvious choice here in view of their extensive experience and successes in the retrofit business.

PC hardware replacements will improve production reliability

The order for EAE involves replacing the existing PCs in the EAE system environment with eight new control console PCs, twelve section control PCs, six PCs for the EAE Info reporting and logging system, two EAE Info Remote Workstations and one EAE Service PC. Four replacement units of the various PC models round off the hardware package. On the software side, the printer will be supplied with an update to the latest version of the EAE Info System plus the newest versions of both the operating systems, namely RMOS (an OS for industrial environments) and Windows.

The retrofit work in Oldham is due to be carried out by EAE’s experts at the end of September 2018. To ensure optimum conditions for rapid and efficient implementation on the customer’s site, the new computer systems will be configured at the EAE headquarters in Ahrensburg (Germany); both the operating systems and the EAE application software will be installed and tested there prior to departing for Oldham.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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