Newspaper Pubs Maximize Efficiency with Automated Color Controls

Looking to maximize efficiency and keep costs down, newspaper publishers are implementing automatic color measurement and control technology, as reported in the May issue of Newspapers and Technology. An added benefit is the boost in color consistency and quality, making newspapers more attractive to both advertisers and readers.

High-speed modern web offset presses demand automated color control, as the traditional method of monitoring quality control—pulling sheets as the press is running—as well as making manual adjustments to a web running at press speeds of 86,000 iph—is counter-productive. Not surprisingly, operations are finding the automated make-ready is helping reduce labor and waste, generating cost savings.

Closed loop color control systems (CLC) allow publishers to secure the quality of the newspaper, assuring advertisers that the red in the Coca-Cola ad is the Coca-Cola brand red, not a bad imitation. “The quality achieved is on a higher level than what was possible before, which can be achieved through automation with our products,” says Menno Jansen, Chairman and Managing Director of Dutch-based Q.I. Press Controls (Booth 3445), in the article, titled “Pubs tap color control to drive profits.”

News Limited, a part of leading Australian publisher News Corporation, is outfitting 60 webs with Q.I. Press Controls’ color register control and IDS (Intelligent Density System) markless control systems. The color control systems are the first of their kind in Australia, with manroland GEOMAN presses in Sydney and NEWSMAN presses in Brisbane set to be operational in fourth quarter 2013.

The publisher installed the systems to provide more accurate color ink density control during press operations, while reducing staff requirements and makeready waste, News & Tech reports.

Processing measured data in real time, with the web running, the IDS digital camera uses either the printed image or a printed color bar as reference. When run in markless mode, the IDS controls color using TIFF data as the reference.

In May, News Ltd. began installation of ABB press controls on the four manroland NEWSMAN presses at the Brisbane site.

Working under the direction of manroland web systems, ABB (Booth 3152) is supplying new main drives for the 20 printing units and four folders and replacing the power distribution for all four presses. Project completion is slated for February 2014.

ABB also offers soft-proof solutions to help maintain color accuracy, explains Stephen Kirk, Head of Marketing, ABB Switzerland Ltd., Printing.

The soft-proof viewer, an extension to the MPS Control Console, provides the printer with a color image of the pages of the product currently being printed. The control console automatically selects the displayed image without any additional input from the printer. The system handles all standard formats—whether the product is broadsheet or tabloid. In the case of a tabloid, two pages are shown on the screen at the same time.

Newsprinters, the U.K. printing operation of News International, installed QuadTech’s (Booth 2472) AccuCam system on all 25 towers on its five manroland COLORMAN XXL presses at its Knowsley plant, part of an ongoing modernization program of its three sites, cites the News & Tech article. The Knowsley plant produces more than 12 million newspapers weekly.

The AccuCam system measures and controls color values between the entire printed image and the target image. Once set, the color values are automatically maintained throughout the production run. Prior to the AccuCam installation, Newsprinters depended on handheld densitometers.

Ink keys are analyzed at least twice a minute, drawing more than 10,000 ink key micro adjustments per 10,000 copies. Color deviations are fixed even before the human eye notices them.

AccuCam is also used to maintain damp levels, scanning the full repeat of the entire image to identify scumming either on the paper’s white or overprint areas.