ABB: From press control to integrated workflow

Jul 20, 2008 at 02:44 am by Staff

➤ Many of those who think of ABB as a manufacturer of transformers and large electrical machines don’t realise that the company is involved in newspaper printing. But a specialised ABB business unit has been a pioneer in the automation of newspaper production for many years. Monitor-based control consoles for newspaper presses, production management computers and shaftless newspaper printing are just a few of the ‘world-firsts’ that have come out of ABB’s Swiss offices in recent decades. Today they are leaders not just in press automation, but also in IT solutions for newspaper production workflow and the retrofitting of newspaper presses. ABB’s workflow solutions have grown from the MPS Production press management system – the prefix MPS stands for ‘Master Printing System’ – into a mosaic that covers the entire newspaper production process. Other suppliers may have competing solutions in one or more of the subprocesses covered by the MPS solutions, but no other company can offer the degree of integration that ABB can. At the centre of ABB’s workflow offering lies MPS Cockpit, the planning, management and tracking system for the entire newspaper production process. This does not replace the management systems of the individual subprocesses such as platemaking, press and mailroom, but sits above and communicates with all of them. This means that the production planning needs only be entered once. MPS Cockpit then automatically distributes the production planning data to the subprocesses. As the entire production process is controlled from a single system, the production manager has at last a single tool for not only planning the production but also planning the product, as delivered to the readers. Whereas a press management system just sees an individual print product and the mailroom just sees the inserts, MPS Cockpit sees the whole big picture. And the big picture is exactly what the production manager gets: This picture shows him how to optimise not only each subprocess but also their interaction in the production chain. Potential conflicts are highlighted and free capacity for taking additional orders becomes much more visible. The integration with MPS Cockpit also gives other ABB solutions additional influence. Take MPS InsertManager as an example: This supports the sale and production of insert orders. The sales support part allows newspaper producers to sell inserting capacity for the finest selection of distribution zones. MPS InsertManager can also use geomarketing data so that inserts can be directed to certain categories of readers only, for example only households with a garden. The integration with MPS Cockpit then ensures that, given the required mailroom equipment, the production and distribution of the newspaper with inserts meets exactly the requirements of the insert customer. These workflow solutions are based on state-of-the-art IT, but ABB’s business unit printing has not forgotten its roots in the field of automation and drives for newspaper printing presses. As well as supplying systems for new presses, ABB has built up a very successful worldwide business in the retrofitting of existing presses. ABB’s retrofit solutions include drive replacement, press control replacement, replacement of old control desks with modern control consoles, conversion of presses to shaftless operation, press extension and even press reconfiguration. A good example of ABB’s retrofit solutions can be found at Suedostschweiz Medien in Haag, Switzerland. The Wifag OF7 presses there originally stood in Basel and Bern, but not in the configuration that they have now. The presses were completely refurbished, converted to shaftless operation and then restacked in their new home. Today’s configuration, with pairs of printing units stacked on top of each other, was not even foreseen by the original manufacturer. A key element in ABB’s press retrofit toolbox is its MPS Open Motion Controller. This combined with ABB’s ACS800 drives means that conventional AC motors can be used for shaftless printing in place of more expensive servo motors. With newspaper production references all over the world, including press controls and press management at Fairfax in Sydney, and roll handling at the ‘West Australian’ in Perth, ABB’s business unit printing is no stranger to the international stage. They’ve been in the printing business for more than 80 years but still retain those Swiss traditions of precision and customer satisfaction that should keep them going for another 80! ABB Switzerland Ltd. Steve Kirk, Marketing Manager Business Unit Printing, CH-5405 Baden 5 Daettwil, Switzerland Tel: +41 58 586 86 33 Fax: +41 58 586 90 54


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