HT Media’s mother plant in Greater Noida is heavily invested in rubber rollers by Boettcher for its newspaper presses. It runs Colorman double-width double-circumference (4 x 2) presses; TKS double-width single-circumference (4 x 1) presses and Manugraph Cityline single-circumference single width (2 x 1) presses at the plant with automated reel splicers and Ferag mailrooms.
Germany-headquartered Boettcher has a sophisticated plant for recovering rubber rollers in Faridabad, which is also in the Delhi/NCR and not very far away from the HT Greater Noida plant. Boettcher’s Indian plant is well equipped with the latest state-of-the-art equipment for rubber covering, annealing and grinding equipment and precision measuring instruments. The chemical rubber compositions used at Boettcher Faridabad are completely imported from the mother plant in Germany.
BS Shesh, vice president of Supply Chain, Print Excellence and Technology at HT Media, explained to us that in a professionally run quality print plant, rubber rollers are not damaged easily. They do, however, get worn out with extensive use. On its part, HT Media conducts periodic checks to ensure that the rubber Shore hardness measurements are within tolerance and that the diameter and frequency are also intact. The rollers are periodically cleaned and the bearings are checked and maintained in good condition. At most, only the surface of the rollers gets damaged, and in that case, they are generally replaced. The plant always keeps spare rubber rollers in its inventory for easy and immediate replacement if needed during a newspaper press run.
Rubber rollers last for 4 to 5 years on a newspaper web offset printing press that uses coldset inks. This is largely because of the maintenance team at HT Media, which ensures that the manufacturer’s instructions are followed while using the rollers.
Diving deeper into the subject, Shesh said, “The amount of paper and paper dust in our newsprint reels is very little, and thus the paper and paper dust which goes into the ink trains in our machines is less. So even if there is a web break, the automation systems prevent too much paper travel or wrap around reaching the rubber rollers. That is the reason why we don’t damage the rollers.
“Meanwhile, the testing of rubber rollers is very simple – we regularly change the bearings, check the hardness and diameter. We check for any swelling on the edges. There may be a loss of diameter with wear, but if the rollers are in tolerable condition and specification, we keep running them. But mostly, it is the Shore hardness of the rollers that is the issue. We use rubber rollers only within the prescribed settings.”
Explaining the quality checking procedure of rollers at the plant, Prasada, manager of Supply Chain at the plant, said, “Basically it is the hardness of the rubber rollers that matters. Once in a quarter, we check whether the diameter of the rollers is shrinking or expanding and if the rollers are hard enough for the job. It depends on the run lengths. If I am running the press for 8 hours every night, the rollers will need to be changed faster.
“Since the rollers are porous, ink gets accumulated on the corners of the edges, which obstructs the transfer of ink. So it is important to take them out or you will not get uniform ink supply. Once a week, we apply chemicals including Calcium Fix with hot water. Also, in order to maintain the rollers, we use rejuvenating chemicals to condition them.”
Speaking about the quality of the rollers, Shesh said, “They are good in terms of quality; we can appreciate and realize this in the speed of our machines. There is minimal wastage. Also, in comparison to other vendors, the Boettcher rollers are at par. And when it comes to their life, they give a long enough life.”
Industry is challenged currently
Sharing his view on the newspaper industry, Shesh said, “It is a challenging time for the industry. It is very clear that advertising revenue is coming down. The young population doesn’t read newspapers anymore. And we all know that internet penetration, even in small cities, is very high. The newspaper companies in small cities make profits but the ones in big cities are in trouble.”