News: £8m Archant Print project completed

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£8m Archant Print project completed

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Archant Print can now boast the largest printing centre in the country dedicated to regional newspaper printing following the completion of an £8m, two-year project to upgrade its Norwich Print Centre to ten press towers, capable of printing up to four papers and 320 different pages at the same time.

Since the end of August, virtually all of Archant’s newspapers including four daily newspapers and around 60 weeklies, are now being printed at the centre.

The project has increased the number of printing towers from six to ten by purchasing four additional units from the Guardian Media Group at Trafford Park Printers, where they were no longer required with the switch in the Guardian to the intermediate Berliner page size. Nick Schiller, MD at Archant Print, said: “The team at the Guardian have taken great care to maintain this equipment and we have been very impressed by the overall condition of all the units.”

Some 400 tonnes of presses and 250 tonnes of concrete and steel were used in the installation of two towers at the end of the existing press line, with a second pair being squeezed into the middle of the existing press.

Other additions include a fourth Goss newspaper folder and two new reel-stands, located under the presses, to cope with the extra capacity.

A key element of the project was the introduction of a single press wide Harland Simons control system which has brought vast improvements over the previous hybrid system in terms of reliability and automation of various functions, eg. Automatic press shutdown.

Key to overseeing the project was Archant Print Operations Director, Adam Woodruff (pictured above). Adam previously worked with Northcliffe, West Ferry Printers and Kent Messenger and has a wealth of printing and projects experience.

“We now have much greater flexibility in what we can offer and we have extra resilience to back that up when on increasingly rare occasions everything does not go according to plan,” said Adam.

“Reduced ink consumption, sharper images, auto registration, automatic blanket wash and auto cut-off are all improvements and with the presses running more smoothly we can consistently produce better results,” he said.

“Two new newspaper packing lines and a new roller buffer have been added to the post press area to support the new folder. A state-of-the-art thermal plate-making from Kodak has been installed in pre-press.”

An eight-hour shift can now produce over two million papers at full speed and the extra capacity means that virtually all Archant Regional papers are now being printed at Thorpe. The Islington Gazette and the Kilburn Times were the last two Archant titles to make the move and mean that papers have been transferred in from places such as Bristol, London, Leicester and Lincolnshire.

Nick, who is delighted that the end of the tunnel is now in sight, said: “All parts of Archant Regional will have been touched by the project and should now be seeing the benefits of it. It has been produced on time, on budget and delivering everything that was originally intended.

“We are now using every single square inch of space at Thorpe,” said Nick. “We have a benchmark new front end producing better images, using less ink and using less paper. We have now in-sourced the overwhelming majority of our own printing requirements, which will help greatly in the current economic climate. The new front end allows all our products to benefit from FM dot screening. We are the only printer in the UK to offer this state of the art process to newspapers. With the completion of the project we have the ability to print every page of every Archant newspaper in full colour.”

Despite the huge improvements and changes, printing has continued throughout the whole 24 months, with much credit due to the team at Thorpe, suppliers and support from Adam and Nick.

“Our principal contractors Harland Simon and Press Engineers Ltd both did a great job for us,” said Nick.

“We now have all the tools and people in place, the next challenge is for the team to establish the facility as best in class for high quality printing; on time delivery and affordable pricing.”

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