News busy with heatset and Horton, fires up Warwick

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News Corp print sites in Queensland and NSW are buzzing after taking on work from Fairfax Media and customers of the closed Horton Media plant, and with the upgrade of more of its own property publications to heatset.

And the good news for printers in Warwick is that the Manugraph Cityline press there is running again, with printers on extra shifts.

News production and logistics executive general manager Marcus Hooke told GXpress absorbing NSW production of Fairfax dailies the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review into its Chullora (Sydney) print centre had been "fairly straightforward" and work from Fairfax's Ormiston (Brisbane) site was being transitioned to News' Murarrie and Yandina sites under the capacity-sharing agreement between the two publishers.

Additionally, News has been able to keep production of its upgraded (Brisbane) Courier-Mail property section inhouse by modifying the heatset manroland Uniset press at Yandina on the Sunshine Coast.

Press maker manroland - now manroland Goss web systems - has installed folder superstructure, Planatol gluing, new controls and software in Yandina to increase productivity of the single-width press to allow three shorter tabloid pages to be printed across the 960 mm web. This cuts by a third, the number of sections needed for a publication.

In addition to glossy property sections for former APN Australian Regional Media publications in Maroochydore, Noosa, Toowoomba and Coffs Harbour, those in News tabloids the (Sydney) Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Gold Coast Bulletin have also gone heatset.

If that alone wasn't enough to take up the slack, Hooke says News picked up a lot of work displaced when Horton Media closed its print site in Narangba, north of Brisbane.

The Yandina upgrade had been in mind for a while, and made it possible to keep work inhouse. "The Courier-Mail had wanted heatset, and this avoided contracting it out," he said.

manroland Australasia technical service director Andreas Schwöpfinger says the new gluing system and expanded format flexibility help to make the press competitive for the future: "Due to this, they can react to the growing market demands for more flexibility, productivity and quality."

A control upgrade including new server technology improves availability and communication with components such as colour and web control, infeed, folders and reel splicers. News will be "futureproof in several respects, able to react better and more flexibly, and handle existing jobs with higher quality and more efficiency. The new formats offer a real added value and a standalone factor," he says.

Meanwhile, as conversations about extending the print cooperation between News and Fairfax to Victoria and other regions continue at top level, ways are still being sought to resolve hot-spots and improve efficiency at News' Westgate Park site in Melbourne.

"We've de-risked it, and the six presses there are more than are required, but we still need a long-term solution," Marcus Hooke told GXpress. However, he dismissed industry talk of an extra press being installed at Fairfax's Ballarat site to print News' daily titles as "speculation".

"With our commitment to content in Melbourne - including Friday and Saturday football results - I can't see how that would happen."

Peter Coleman

Pictured: More productive format options include a shorter tabloid for property sections

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