manroland web systems Inc.

ROTOMAN DirectDrive makes short runs more profitable

The printing press celebrates its first birthday: for the printing house, this is an ideal point for a first check. Was the machine able to hold its promise? Was the investment worth it? The Belgian printing company Moderna checked its ROTOMAN DirectDrive, which was put into operation in time for the drupa 2012.

Moderna, the Belgian top-10 printshop, specializes in printing magazines, catalogs, booklets, and advertising brochures. For the production of mostly 16-page signatures, often short runs, Moderna selected the new highly automated ROTOMAN DirectDrive heatset commercial press with DynaChange imprint functions and numerous autoprint features. The printing system started production in May 2012, and is an important pillar in Moderna's business model, as Managing Director Eric Bongaerts explains: “With this investment, we want to kill two birds with one stone: on the one hand, to flexibly respond to the growing trend of smaller runs and, on the other hand, to decommission two older and less efficient presses.” With short changeover times and minimal waste, target group-specific production is expected to become even more efficient. These fundamental investment criteria, important for the production of short runs of magazines and catalogs, are just as important for the economic success of multi-lingual and regionalized advertising products. Eric Bongaerts says, “The trend has been leaning towards smaller runs for a few years now, especially for special interest and business magazines. That's why we've increasingly focused on these smaller runs that are becoming more and more elaborate with added gimmicks, samples, and supplements and have to be produced in ever shorter timeframes.“

Brilliantly regional

Today, it is clear that Moderna's plan paid off. In 2012, the pledged performances in terms of press speed and waste were reached within a short period of time, as well as the required printing and folding quality. Veit Müller, Executive Sales Manager at manroland web systems, knew that the die ROTOMAN DirectDrive would meet the customer's needs: “Together with Moderna, we checked what fits best with their business model. In the process, the imprinting unit with the DynaChange function proved to be ideal. Moderna can now offer its customers flexible text changes combined with efficient production. In times when print runs are split, this is becoming increasingly important. And if the fifth printing couple is not used for imprinting, you can use it for special colors or coatings to enhance the product.“ The ROTOMAN DirectDrive operates at 65,000 revolutions per hour, with a web width of 965 mm. The DynaChange printing couple is equipped with two motors and can move and adjust the cylinders to ensure that the web passes through the unused printing couple untouched and without diversions. Moderna and its customers also benefit from flying imprint changes. Individual short runs and part editions, on average 4,000 copies but some even fewer than 2,000 copies, can be printed quickly, flexibly, and cost-effectively. This enables language and address changes in regional supplements to be produced without the need to stop the press. The corresponding plates are exchanged in the fifth printing couple during production. The varied folding equipment with plow folds and a pin folder in a 1:3:3 system also allow for even more attractive printed products.

“Simply unheard of before now”

Moderna is certain: Increased efficiency is the result of the many technological innovations of the new ROTOMAN DirectDrive, the crucial factor being the autoprint equipment. This includes the Inline Control systems from manroland web systems and the AutoJobChange, which automatically initiates the required job changeover after the run target has been met. Eric Bongaerts is also impressed by APL (AutomaticPlateLoading): “With APL, the production changeover is extremely fast. An entire changeover with eight plates, including all wash-up processes, can be completed in less than five minutes (from good copy to good copy, where the actual plate change only requires about two minutes). The press presettings via the prepress connection with CIP3 also play an important role. Thanks to the innovations, we have saved 50 to 70 tons of paper each month that used to end up in the recycling bin. This amounts to €650,000 each year!" The new ROTOMAN DirectDrive and the 48-page LITHOMAN, delivered in 2008, have emerged as the perfect pair. Both presses together ideally cover the circulation range with varying run lengths, and Moderna can flexibly select the most efficient production system for the individual order.

For printers and economists

In the investment decision, the ROTOMAN won over not only the technical experts at Moderna, but – after an extensive market comparison – also managed to convince the economists. The accounting department is pleased by the increased productivity thanks to less waste. The savings due to decommissioning both old presses including their dryers are also impressive. Each year, Moderna saves around €65,000 euros in gas costs alone. “If you consider all its advantages and improvements, it is obvious that the ROTOMAN DirectDrive was the right decision and a worthwhile investment”, summarizes Eric Bongaerts.

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