First U.S Newsliner, FlexiRoll - GMA Supplies Software with Muller Martini Equipment

Article excerpt

This is going to be like the icing on the cake for the new plant." New York Post Production Director David O'Neill was describing what until recently were the missing pieces of his platemaking-printing-packaging puzzle.

Late last month, the Post inked a contract with GMA, Bethlehem, Pa., for its NewsGrip single-gripper conveyor, software and integration, and four Newsliner inserters and FlexiRoll rotary buffer/storage systems built by its Swiss parent company, Muller Martini.

The purchase decision dates to last June, but the contract was delayed until the Post and Goss Graphic Systems were able to finalize terms for the purchase and installation of new offset presses (E&P, Nov. 13, p. 12).

Each of four press lines in the Post plant now under construction (E&P, June 12, p. 26; May 22, p. 40) will deliver to two pickup stations. One will transport copies directly to stackers; the other will carry them up to second-floor inserters.

GMA NewsGrip single-copy conveyors will transport the copies to Quipp stacking-strapping-wrapping stations and to the Newsliners - the first to be sold to a U.S. newspaper.

"I first saw these inserters in Australia at the Fairfax newspapers in Sydney," said O'Neill (who worked in Australia for the competing News Corp., for which he also oversaw production projects in the United Kingdom and San Antonio, Texas, before taking the Post assignment). He calls the Newsliner similar to GMA's SLS inserter, only faster.

Acquired by Muller seven years ago, GMA has installed SLS-1000 and newer SLS2000 inserting systems in newspapers of all sizes, including both New York Times plants. While the Newsliner is built for five-into-one inserting at 35,000 to 40,000 copies per hour, the SLS2000 can be configured with many more inserting heads and is capable of handling much larger, bulkier products.

The new plant's mail room is designed with space for the installation of two more inserters. These future additions, O'Neill said, would be dedicated to the larger volumes of Sunday- only inserting. That job, he added, would likely be given to a pair of SLS2000s. The Sunday Post contains coupons and a TV program booklet into which carriers hand-stuff freestanding inserts.

Until such time, and for any modest growth in weekday inserting needs, the Newsliners can be built to handle more inserting "on an as-needed basis," said O'Neill. The modularity of the inserting (and the buffering) equipment, he added, makes expansion easier.

In a market dominated by Harris/Heidelberg and GMA equipment, why the Muller machine? The faster, lower-volume Newsliner may make sense for a big-city tabloid that holds relatively few inserts and competes strenuously with another for its mainstay single- copy sales. Moreover, citing the 6-year-old Newsliner's 77 mostly European installations, O'Neill remarked, "It's not like we're buying something that's not proven."

A Newsliner fed from a satellite station taking stored sections from a FlexiRoll accepts broadsheets of four to 96 pages and tabloids of 12 to 160 pages. Compact stations allow manual feeding of single-sheet inserts on 50-lb. stock and sections of up to 64 broadsheet pages. A small product feeder can handle cards, sample envelopes and bags, and folded brochures. A duplex satellite station adds inserts without extending a machine by feeding a second insert to the pocket chain by double-gripper conveyor.

Newsliner opens products by lap, sword, or suctions. An option permits second and third openings for lapped products. Programmed zoning allows insert reconfiguration without stopping a machine, and one inserting line can be set up to run two zones at once.

GMA President Randy Seidel said his company's manufacturing facility in neighboring Allentown, Pa., will take delivery of a Newsliner in summer for testing and for training Post personnel. Installations at the Post, he said, will begin in late spring and be completed, one after another, late this year and into next. …