Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Post-Press Automation Dreams 1coming True in Atlanta, Dayton : Costs Cut at Packaging Centers Both Old and New

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Post-Press Automation Dreams 1coming True in Atlanta, Dayton : Costs Cut at Packaging Centers Both Old and New

Article excerpt

Longtime dreams of automating the packaging center still the most labor-intensive part of the newspaper manufacturing process are coming true at papers with both brand-new and aging production plants.

Production executives from both types of facilities described their experience with post-press automation last Wednesday at an America East equipment show session in Hershey, Pa.

Mike Joseph oversees the first kind of production plant, the kind that still has a new car smell. The new Dayton (Ohio) Daily News Print Technology Center is acclaimed for its unusual exterior reflecting the city's place in aviation history. But of the 260,000 square feet in the plant, it's the 100,000-square-foot packaging center that has drawn the most internal attention, said Joseph, director of operations for the newspaper. "We identified $2 million in annual costs that we could reduce in the packaging center if we went to a 100% internalized assembly of the daily product," Joseph said.

One of the first expenses targeted for elimination was the "stuffing fee" the paper paid its carriers to put inserts into copies. Another was the cost of paying people to load product into inserter hoppers. The paper also wanted to eliminate newsprint waste.

The automation solution was a Heidelberg product buffering system. Coming from the press, the grippers pass a waste release point, which drops out bad copies so that waste never enters the mail room, Joseph said. "We were able to reduce staffing just as a result of that," he said.

The line also automatically feeds the inserting hoppers of the Heidelberg NP632 inserter, eliminating the need for workers at the hoppers. On Sundays, the 210,000-circulation Dayton Daily News typically carries 20 inserts, Joseph said. Product coming out of the inserters can go on to the press or be sent to the buffering system for momentary or longer-term storage. The system has eight lanes, two reserved for buffering and six for storing advances. "It's allowed us to de-couple the press and the inserter without losing automation," Joseph said.

Belts feeding the storage systems are coordinated with the grippers so that gaps in the system are eliminated on the way in, and minimized on the way out, he said.

Automation has allowed Dayton to cut its mail-room labor force by 33%, Joseph said. Because the paper is phasing in its complete assembly project, stuffing fees have been reduced by 50%, but not yet eliminated altogether, he said. …

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