Reuse, recycle, anyone? Single-width presses among first on the market

Newspaper plant from closed News Corp and Australian Community Media print sites is beginning to come on the market, with agents offering two of the presses included in APN's $36 million sale to News in 2017.

The Indian-built single-width presses - likely to be shipped to overseas buyers - are being offered by agents Hilco Global APAC.

Hilco's Luke Johnston says both are Manugraph Cityline Express presses, one currently at News' former APN print site in Warwick, Queensland, and the other dismantled and suggested for "parts and spares". News previously had Citylines at Toowoomba and Rockhampton, a similarly-equipped site in Bundaberg having been closed earlier.

Both are six-tower, single-folder lines, one with a Tolerans stitcher. Hilco are also selling the Fujifilm Luxel and Krause LSJet platesetters, and mailroom equipment including a Sitma polybagging line and a 16-station Sheridan perfect binder.

APN had developed the former Warwick Daily News print site close to the New England highway as a commercial printing hub for its other centres, and a loyal team operated the sheetfed-only centre in the period after the Harris V15A web press was shut down, and before the Manugraph press being offered was moved in from Ballina.

Some of the other equipment being sold dates from this period, and includes a Speedmaster 74 press, and Heidelberg, MBO and Stahl folders; two 102 Speedmasters have already been sold. There is also a guillotine, baler, materials handling and plant services equipment.

The presses are the first of a raft of displaced press equipment likely to come on the market, apparently with no restrictions about where they would be sold.

ACM is likely to appoint agents to handle the sale of equipment from its Murray Bridge (SA), Fyshwick (Canberra, ACT) and Ballarat (VIC) print sites, which include a variety of single-width (one and two-around) and double-width equipment. There are also unconfirmed reports of a deal to sell the five-tower 4x1 Goss Uniliner S from the former Border Mail Printing site in Wodonga (VIC) to neighbouring publisher McPherson Media, publishers of the Shepparton News.

News Corp Australia will also have further single and double width press equipment to dispose of with the closure of its Rockhampton (Manugraph single-width), and in coming months, Brisbane and Melbourne print sites (both manroland Newsman double-width from Rupert Murdoch's historic billion-dollar 1987 order).

While the future may be bleak for the double-width presses themselves, control and peripherals systems may possibly be more valuable.

There is a modern double-width heatset dryer at Ballarat (ACM), a UV-curing system on the manroland Geoman installed by then owner Kerry Stokes in Canberra (also ACM), and modern control and register systems at most sites. The manroland press at News' Murarrie, Brisbane print site - to be shut down early next year - was upgraded in 2014 with the latest manroland and QI Press Controls systems.

The outlook for the presses themselves is not good. When Fairfax Media closed its Tullamarine (Melbourne) and Chullora (Sydney) double-width sites in 2014, half the Melbourne presses and all of the Sydney ones (and all its mailroom kit) went to scrapman Simsmetal. Experience reminds me that it's the bearings which are most valuable.

Peter Coleman

Pictured: The Manugraph Cityline press (top) and bindery equipment at Warwick

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