Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Upgrading to Digital Inkers

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Upgrading to Digital Inkers

Article excerpt

Simple precise inking system raises offset performance, with minimal interference

The Tampa Tribune has taken a major technological leap while still meeting daily deadlines. This spring, the Tribune completed the changeover from mechanical ink pumps to digital ink pumps on its relatively modern TKS offset presses. The digital inkers -- simpler, more precise and more automated -- are a major step toward a long-cherished industry goal of keyless presses.

"This is part of a process that we started here about three and a half years ago," explains pressroom manager Wally Cosgrove. Presses were converted in steps, one press per year, until all four had the increased precision and programmability of digital ink pumps -- all without interruption to daily press runs.

"We had to take several units off the line for a few days while we made the conversion," Cosgrove recalls. "But it was not a long process, and we kept the other presses operating while we did that."

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

Other papers converting to the ink pumps from TKS (U.S.A.) Inc. of Richardson, Texas, have taken different approaches to the problem of how to make the change while maintaining production.

At Newsday, in the New York City suburb of Melville, on Long Island, the job took less than a month per press, according to Jesse Strong,TKS senior sales manager. The 10 Goss press lines have TKS decks.

At Newsday, "They essentially told us, `Here's the press. Go to it. We won't interfere with you getting your job done,'" Strong says. "We just went in and did the entire conversion work nonstop -- took out the old pump, put in the new ones, wired it up and put the controls in, the scanner and so forth -- all in less than a month, really."

The Dallas Morning News, with six operating presses, had a different challenge.

As an enormous consumer of newsprint -- as many as 200,000 tons a year for click, advertising-laden newspapers -- it could not afford to lose even a single press for very long.

"They did not have a press they could just turn over to us for weeks at a time," says Strong. "So they allowed us to do three units a week. We would come in on a Sunday and work until Tuesday. Then we would have to turn the unit back over to them by about 2 p.m. on Wednesday and from that time until the next Sunday again, those presses never stopped."

Other papers with different production needs have done the job differently But recently Columbus Dispatch, Spokane Spokesman-Review, and Greensboro, N.C., News & Record have upgraded from mechanical ink pumps to digital models.

Strong says TKS has installed digital inkers onto the equivalent of about 450 units, including most of TKS's U.S. installations plus three Goss installations. But digital inking is an option available to a whole generation of offset presses with mechanical ink pumps.

In conjunction with other equipment -- for scanning plates and presetting ink keys, dampening systems and web compensators, digital inkers are designed to save money by reducing newsprint waste, press staffing and maintenance costs, and improving reproduction quality.

The mechanical inkers were subject to a number of malfunctions, Cosgrove said, from keys that would lock up, leak or fail to function at all.

"Plus, you always had to spend a lot of time on calibrations, trying to get something exactly right, and it created a lot of waste on start-ups," he said.

DIGITAL PUMPING

Digital inking changes all that. …

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