Demand for color has Canadian publishers upgrading and adding to presses in much the same manner as their U.S. counterparts -- with new four-color towers and rebuilt equipment.
Unlike expansions in the U.S., however, Canada's biggest daily will stack more print couples in a relatively new and large four-color pressroom, while another metro daily replaces its letterpress with a combination of new-generation towers and older offset units retrofitted with new technology.
Presses from different manufacturers at the two papers will be equipped with controls from the same supplier.
BIG, BUT NOT BIG ENOUGH
With six parallel, 12-unit Colorman presses, each with multiple four-color satellite base units, the Toronto Star not only is loaded with color capacity, but also prints the tightly registered four-color work for which the common-impression design is favored.
But color sells, and the 300 couples of MAN Roland's top-of-the-line newspaper web press just aren't enough anymore. So, five years after the its state-of-the-art plant in suburban Vaughn commenced operations, the Star began looking at ways to not only add color capacity, but also increase its flexibility to offer color where advertisers want it.
A dedicated press to handle increasing color volume was considered, according to assistant production director Dean Zavarise. But the decision was eventually made to add 10 couples to each of the existing presses, he said, when the only other option was replacement of some common-impression units with blanket-to-blanket towers. Though four-high towers would have added page and color capacity, Zavarise said, management thought it wiser not to mix the two designs for achieving offset impression.
Citing the satellites' superior four-color registration, he said the Colorman delivers the quality the Star sought and, after experiencing many problems typical at start-up, is seeing productivity that "meets expectations."
"We were beginning to sell out of color on particular days of the week," Zavarise said, citing especially heavy interest in the Saturday edition, typically a large paper comparable to a U.S. Sunday edition. The Star circulates more than 450,000 weekday copies and just under 700,000 on Saturdays.
"Even though we were one of the more colorized newspapers in North America, certainly in Canada," said Zavarise, "we were being restricted" in color availability and positioning.
After the advertising department came up with projections on growth of demand for color, he continued, management determined there "would be a satisfactory level of payback" from a press expansion.
The project will be undertaken in four phases, with two print units decommissioned on each press during each phase, leaving four units (5, 6, 7 and 8) unchanged. Zavarise explained that the five couples in position 1 will grow to six, the three in position 2 will grow to four, and "basically the rest of the press will be made up in pairs to mimic those two."
Following what Zavarise characterized as a significant amount of preinstallation work (including that for Harland Simon press controls) conducted during daytime hours, phase one will begin next June and last nine weeks. Phase two then adds three more weeks before work is suspended through the end of the peak season. The project resumes for 12 more weeks in two more phases in January of 2000. Installers, said Zavarise, will work "virtually around the clock, seven days a week."
Upon completion, said Zavarise, the Star will be able to print 96 pages, half of them sporting process color: either running 12 four-over-one leads or six four-over-four webs (full color on both sides) plus six black-only leads. …