A large order to refit and automate colour control on a 21-year-old newspaper press on "the other side of the world" is a special one for QI Press Controls for two reasons.
For one thing, it's the classic scenario of the grand old press installed when print was king - and primarily to print a single flagship title - turned in a post-consolidation industry to produce a variety of publications with greater demands and shorter runs.
And secondly, there's a personal cachet for QIPC director Menno Jansen in delivering a much better system than the one in the sale of which - as it happens - he was involved before establishing the Netherlands-based company he now leads with Erik van Holten.
The big news is that NZME Print in Auckland, New Zealand, has commissioned QI Press Controls to undertake a complete retrofit of its Goss HT70 press, delivering a 61-camera system to automate not only registration and cut-off, but also colour itself using QIPC's IDS-3D technology. Installed to print the flagship daily New Zealand Herald for then owners Wilson & Horton, the double-width Goss press now prints a variety of other work including NZME dailies the Bay of Plenty Times and The Northern Advocate alongside contract work for Fairfax New Zealand, with whom a merger has been agreed subject to regulatory approval (a decision is now due on May 2).
The Fairfax work includes 30,000 circulation daily Waikato Times, 25,000 Sunday News and about 55,000 copies of the national Sunday Star Times - also printed at other Fairfax sites - with these and NZME's Herald on Sunday produced side-by-side and to the same production deadlines.
All of which has put a good deal of pressure on a site which prides itself on its culture and its commitment to quality. Last year the Ellerslie plant was admitted to WAN-Ifra's International Newspaper Color Quality Club for a second term, a runner up in the PANPA print site of the year competition, and among winners in the annual SWUG NZ print quality awards.
The 1995 press comprises 12 four-high towers and three mono units, with three folders, and QI Press Controls will install 37 of its mRC-3D cameras for cut-off control, a further 24 IDS-3D cameras for colour and register control, and its IQM quality management system. All cameras are equipped with the AIMS system for automatic cleaning of the optics. The retrofit will replace a register guidance system installed when the UK-built press was new, and which Menno Jansen recalls as "my first large sale" when he was working for the supplier prior to setting up QI Press Controls.
A 24-hour air journey from QIPC's headquarters in Oosterhout in the Netherlands, Ellerslie, its people, and the "very interesting" New Zealand market therefore holds a special place in his heart. Menno Jansen says has visited the newspaper print site at least every year the last six years: "I knew that QIPC could deliver a system that would better meet their needs, and on my last visit I even had a service technician go there to explain how we would solve everything," he says. "I am very pleased therefore, that after all that effort, NZME Print has finally chosen to do business with us. To be able to install our modern IDS-3D and mRC-3D systems makes it a very special order for me personally." That pleasure is also founded on confidence in the QIPC product: "Other parties simply could not offer what we offer," he says, pointing to the versatility of the cameras, which can perform all the necessary functions with only two cameras per tower.
In addition to the automation equipment, NZME has chosen QIPC's IQM analysis and management information system, which uses metadata to analyse the quality of the printed product and provide insights into future use. NZME's aim is to raise the efficiency levels of the pressroom through reduced waste, set-up time and resource. The efficiency improvements will increase the company's competitiveness in the newspaper print market, according to operations manager Russell Wieck. The new technology will enable NZME to source shorter-run commercial work that is currently not viable for the large double width presses.
Wieck - who joined parent company APN in Toowoomba, Australia, in 1977, moving to the New Zealand Herald in 2004 - says the NZME culture is focused on improvement, whether it is quality, waste reduction, timeliness, staff morale, skills or personal growth and the united team goal is to raise the bar at every opportunity. With the 2017 print schedules a far cry from the 300,000 daily 80-pages-plus broadsheet newspapers the press originally produced, the technology will set new standards for both high-volume work and the small-pagination, low volume inline-finished jobs and speciality publications it also handles. Beyond these savings and the system's quality and reliability, there is also the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that, should problems occur, help from the QIPC service desk is always available... even on opposite sides of the world.
• See Innovation the name of the game at 20-year-old Ellerslie © GXpress 2017/Peter Coleman
Pictured: The Ellerslie press (top) and (above left) Russell Wieck and Menno Jansen