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A clever aggregation of newspaper plant from a handful of Fairfax group sites has given the ‘Northern Daily Leader’ and associated titles in the ‘country music capital’ of Tamworth improved quality and capacity for 48 pages of back-to-back colour.

It’s a complex formula involving equipment from plants which have been closed or upgraded, and bears testament to the modular flexibility of the single-width Goss Community press, mailroom and other equipment: Five towers, an SSC folder and CTP from Wagga Wagga (NSW), another tower from Warrnambool (Victoria), another folder from Nowra (NSW), motorisation and an Alphaliner inserter from Ormiston (itself not long removed from Ballarat) plus new drives, guarding and engineering components, are being turned into an ‘as new’ plant on a greenfield site.

And that’s without touching the large Community press just replaced by a double-width Goss Uniliner 80 at Ormiston (Queensland) or the manroland Uniset at Burnie (Tasmania), which GXpress understands was being sold overseas.

The upgrade is the latest in a long series at Rural Press (now Fairfax Media) sites across regional Australia, including Morwell, Port Macquarie, Launceston and Murray Bridge, all of which have Community equipment.

So too did the print sites of Fairfax’s ‘Warrnambool Standard’, Rural’s ‘South Coast Register’ in Nowra, and Riverina Media’s ‘Daily Advertiser’ in Wagga, where presses have been closed since the 2007 merger.

Five units from the Wagga press, along with reelstands and an SSC folder, have been installed in the new factory to print the Tamworth group of newspapers, which are part of Rural’s regional publishing division.

The building on a greenfield site close to the airport at Glen Artney, houses press, prepress and finishing equipment including the Müller Martini Alphaliner, a Müller Martini saddlestitcher and the existing Kansa inserter.

The upgrade also includes a switch to computer-to-plate production with two Kodak Trendsetter platesetters with optical plate punching, relocated from the ‘Daily Advertiser’.

The press replaces a Solna Distributor moved out from the basement of the Brisbane Street main office to the Taminda estate in 1997 and extended with the acquisition of a similar press from New Zealand.

Managing editor John Sommerlad says in recent years it has printed a range of tabloid, American (square) tabloid and quarterfold products including 16 pages of four-colour ‘unit-to-unit’ without the help of automatic registration technology.

And such aids will also be missing – at least for the time being – from the refurbished and extended six-tower Community press, which will have motorised sidelay and circumferential register controlled from its new Rockwell Automation consoles.

Anthony Payne, who is managing the project, expects the press will be in full production in June following print trials at the beginning of this month.

“We’ve just been dressing the press with new rollers and blankets, Rockwell are currently commissioning the new drives and controls,” he says.

It’s no secret that the rebuild has been a substantial challenge, and Payne told a Single Width Users Group workshop in March of the extent to which the press – which had been shown to SWUG members when their 2003 conference was held in Wagga – had been allowed to deteriorate.

“It was in atrocious condition and fairly filthy,” he says. “We’ve cleaned it up several times, replaced bushes and bearings and a couple of scored ink film rollers. Both folders have been rebuilt and anything that needed repairing or replacing to make it like a new machine has been done.”

At the same time, the Goss-managed project included installing new plate and

blanket cylinders on the former Warrnambool Community SC tower (the sixth tower) to give it the same lock-up and blanket gap as the SSC ones. New guards have come from Goss’s factory in China, with safety interlocking integrated to the Rockwell controls.

“To all intents and purposes it’s like a new machine,” says Payne.

Cost of the project, he says, was “significantly less” than installing a new press.

The 40-year-old Solna is for sale, and following last November’s commissioning of the Ormiston (Brisbane) Uniliner, there’s still one more surplus Community waiting for a new home, with “discussions” taking place about its future.

Peter Coleman
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