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Customised printing brings success
to German newspaper printer Saarbrücker Zeitung

The properly created customisation inevitably ensures the expected results! It was recently proven by German newspaper printer Saarbrücker Zeitung, who successfully individualises their new MAN Colorman press, and is accepted into the Ifra International Newspaper Color Quality Club (INCQC) 2008-10.

With a print run of more than 150,000 copies and 510,000 readers the Saarbrücker Zeitung (Saarbrücken Newspaper) is a leading media brand and one of the major daily newspapers in the state of Saarland. Founded as the ‘Nassau-Saarbrückische Wochen-Blatt’ (Nassau-Saarbrücken Weekly) by Prince Wilhelm Heinrich von Nassau Saarbrücken in 1761, it was initially known as the local Frag und Anzeig-Blatt (Question and ad paper), and received its current name in 1861. Today, the Saarbrücker Zeitung is one of the five oldest newspapers in Germany.

Awards show of INCQC 2008, Washington (USA): (L-R) Tom Croteu, Hans-Peter Hammes (SZ), Gerhard Merker (SZ) and Reiner Mittelbach (Ifra CEO).

The publisher’s exceptional power of innovation is seen in the formats and titles that are produced in addition to the conventional daily newspaper. Worthy of special mention are the 20 Cent Saar, a compact paper for readers that simply wish to gain a brief overview of the days events, and the saar.amateur, the regional sports paper. The printing company’s innovations are also seen in the technical details of the equipment of its printing presses. With the claim to lasting first-class quality the experts continue to work on improving the entire range of parameters associated with production.

“The times when the quality was controlled instinctively from the control station have long been a thing of the past. All factors must be taken into consideration in modern production, from the properties of the dampening solution to the ink right up to the cleanness inside the machine,” stated Peter Hammes, shift manager at Saarbrücker Zeitung. It is possible and can be seen in the outstanding quality of the Saarbrücker printed products, which has resulted in the Saarlanders being accepted into the Ifra International Newspaper Color Quality Club (INCQC) 2006-08. This club, founded in 1994, admits fifty newspaper printing companies that have produced the best quality over a period of two years.

“While this award is a great honour for us,” stated Hammes, “It was also clear to us that it is not only difficult to be accepted into this exclusive club, but that it is just as difficult to remain a member, since the demands are continually rising.” This statement applies especially to Saarbrücker Zeitung, since the jump to the top level of newspaper printing was preceded by the installation of a new printing press—a MAN Colorman from manroland, with four four-high towers and two folding units. “Theoretically, we had been printing, testing and improving for 21 years before we were awarded the gold medal by Ifra. In view of the deadlines for the application for admittance into the INCQC 2008-10, we only had 21 weeks after the installation of the brand-new machine,” added Gerhard Leibrock, manager of newspaper printing and processing at Saarbrücker Zeitung.

“There is no doubt that the standards of German printing press manufacturers are very high,” explained Leibrock, “However, we had made positive experiences in the past with peripheral equipment from third-party suppliers and so instead of using dampening units of machine manufacturer, we wanted these systems from technotrans AG, called microspray.line.” The deciding factor in favour of this decision was the particularly fine application of the dampening solution as well as the simple and precise control of the spray bar. “Understandably, the manufacturer would have been happier if we had been satisfied with the original dampening units. Yet, we were certain that the alternative technology would give us that little bit of extra print quality from the machine, which has, of course, proved true in the meantime.”

Peter Hammes swears by the microspray dampening system from technotrans.

A further important factor for the Saarlanders was the cleanness in the machine and the primary focus was on reducing the causes for the contamination. Generally ink mist and paper dust are the biggest causes for contaminating the machine. “We succeeded in reducing this at least in connection with the ink. We also had technotrans plan and installed the machine’s central ink supply system. For us, it was vital that the ink mist in the machine be reduced, because we are using an ink that is essentially more viscous than normal. Here even technotrans had reservations as to whether the performance of the pumps over long distances of the pipes was sufficient for the viscosity of the material,” mentioned Hammes. Also, the reservations of the manufacturer could be cleared up on this matter. The maximum output of the system specified by technotrans allows for so much leeway that the high-viscosity inks that are now used can still be conveyed without a problem. To show the quantity and intensity of the ink outside the ink duct, the effect on the degree of contamination from the ink mist Hammes impressively documented on white cloths which he had stuck on the inside of the protective grid. The results hang next to each other on the wall near the control station and show a reduction in contamination of over eighty percent over the entire test phase. In this connection, the printing press manufacturer manroland even established a study group on the topic of ‘Requirements for the central ink supply system’, which also included newspaper printers from Graz, Augsburg and Nuremberg, among others.

Additional cleanness is provided by the contex.mb cleaning system, a washing system with a short, moving brush, which is precisely adjustable for cleaning the blanket and satellite cylinders. “This solution by technotrans is similar to that for the spray dampening units. Apart from the actual efficiency of this process, here, too, the precise control from the machine’s control station offers very real results and the highest possible influence on the overall process,” commented Leibrock.

The optimisation process of the Saarbrücker Zeitung is rounded off with special focus on the consistent quality of the dampening solution. Next to the stable production under the same conditions, it was also a matter of reducing the cleaning and maintenance work of the dampening solution circuit. Originally the beta.f dampening solution filtration was connected to the dampening solution circulation of the newspaper printing press with a pre-filter and a main filter in the bypass. “We have achieved considerable improvement here already. Both with regard to the overall cleanness of the circuit and in connection with a smoother running of the spray dampening systems. Blockages resulting from contamination have been largely eliminated. Our machine runs 24 hours a day, every day and constantly at top speed. That is why the prevention of shutdowns due to cleaning and maintenance work represents money saved. The previously customary, pure ‘cleaning shifts’ have been totally eliminated," stated Laibrock.

In September 2007, the beta.f filtration was replaced by the delta.f crossflow filtration (both filtration systems come from technotrans.) in which the dampening solution is pumped through a ceramic membrane at high speed and the clean components of the dampening solution separate from the impurities due to the differences in density. “One of the advantages of this system is that it operates without filtration material or other consumables,” stated Hammes, “And the results of this process are absolutely amazing.” This observation is confirmed by looking into the tank of the filtration system where the strongly contaminated dampening solution is collected from the printing press. When comparing this mixture with the almost new dampening solution which is fed back into the tank of the circulator, one quickly can see the practical benefit of such an addition in the press room. “Since we are still in a long-term test phase with the delta.f, we have kept it to be on the safe side, it can be quickly and easily connected in a bypass as a replacement for the cross-flow filtration. So far however, we have not had any reason to do this,” he added.

At last, despite the new printing press had been installed for only a few weeks, Saarbrücker Zeitung had successfully asserted itself against the reservations of the manufacturer and the supplier by the time for submitting the application for admission to the International Newspaper Color Quality Club (INCQC) 2008-10 had arrived. While a record number of 198 newspaper printing companies and publishers from around the world participated in the actual competition, Saarbrücker Zeitung made itself into the top fifty at its first go and straight into the INCQC 2008-10. “There is no ranking. All we know is that the best result on this occasion fulfilled ninety percent of all requirements. In our case the panel of judges arrived at ninety percent of all the points possible,” proudly conveyed Hammes who received the highly coveted gold medal in Washington DC. “Of course, on behalf of all those who helped in achieving this success: the manufacturer of our printing press, the suppliers of the central ink supply system, dampening solution units, spray dampening systems, filtration and the various auxiliary units, and last but not least all our employees who were involved,” he added.

Hammes expressed happiness with the solution provided by the Westphalian system supplier: “It has reduced our contacts mainly to manroland and to technotrans, with whose assistance we are able to maintain the stability and high quality of our production.” However, the peripheral equipment of an additional supplier has also found a place on their new printing press: the card-gluing system from CommCard. Saarbrücker Zeitung is one of three European printing companies to use this system. Also 'not-off-the-shelf' equipment is the cut-off register control from QI, as well as the line staplers from Tolerans that are adjustable on three formers.


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