West Ferry Printers, a subsidiary of Express Newspapers Group, is to move from its London Docklands home of the past 24 years to a new, as yet unnamed site, possibly to the north of London and close to the M1/M25 corridor. This follows the announcement of a £100 million ($145.5m) spend on new hybrid coldset and heatset presses and ancillary equipment over the next five years by owner Richard Desmond.
The company has initially ordered four compact high-performance KBA Commander CT press lines totalling 22 towers along with mailroom and publishing equipment from Ferag. And the plans are for additional printing towers, reel stands and heatset dryers at a later stage. The first coldset phase is expected to be up and running in early 2012.
- Two KBA Commander CT press lines totalling 22 four-high towers for West Ferry Printers (1)
West Ferry and Broughton Printers’ chief executive David Broadhurst said the huge contract with KBA followed an exhaustive investigation of all the newspaper press designs and printing methods available. For KBA, it is the biggest single contract of 2010.
Alongside Express Newspapers Group titles – the Daily and Sunday Express, and the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday – the Commander CT presses will also print contract work, including the Daily Sport and in time will be used for semi-commercial work which will also enable the group’s magazines to be printed in-house.
With many publishers and printers reluctant to commit funds to new equipment, this huge investment is all the more significant and shows huge faith in the future of printed newspapers within a multi-platform industry. This massive investment signals that the future for news is not just about iPads, electronic publishing and digital presses.
- The commissioning of the new KBA Commander CT in early 2012 will materially enhance the immediacy, colour content and print quality of the Daily Express, a major UK newspaper title (2)
Dramatic reduction in operation and maintenance times
The four highly automated, double-wide KBA Commander CT presses comprising 22 Pastomat reelstands, 22 compact four-high towers and four heavy-duty KF 7 jaw folders will be embedded in an automated paper logistics system. Said Broadhurst, who has KBA Commander press lines in the north west at Broughton Printers in Preston: “The high level of automation will extend throughout the press line, dramatically reducing the time input required for operation and maintenance. KBA PlateTronic automatic plate changers, KBA RollerTronic automatically adjustable roller locks and KBA NipTronic bearing units for automatic adjustment of printing pressure are further examples of the Commander CT’s innovative technology.”
The 4/2 presses will have a maximum rated output of 90,000 copies per hour, a 578mm (22.75in) cut-off on a 1,156mm (45.5in) cylinder circumference and a maximum web width of 1,460mm (57.5in). They come complete with KBA ErgoTronic consoles featuring EAE’s Print production scheduling and press presetting software. There is also a significant amount of Baldwin technology included with the KBA press, following a successful installation at Broughton Printers. This includes web cleaning equipment, ink train cleaning systems and Maxima spray bars.
Broadhurst added: “The £100m investment is split between the north and south print centres. We have a stage two option with KBA for the supply of a further twelve units and two folders of the same CT for Preston together with an additional unit for the existing Commander.”
KBA executive vice-president for web press sales Christoph Müller commented: “The fact that we are West Ferry Printers’ vendor of choice is both an honour and a responsibility. The commissioning of this big KBA Commander CT installation in our 194th year represents a major milestone in a history dating back to the invention of the mechanical printing press by our company founders in early 19th century London.”
- A Commander CT with 15 towers and three folders at the Daily News in New York (3)
Commitment to print
Northern and Shell owner Richard Desmond added: “I am delighted to announce this investment in our print products. The Daily Express and Sunday Express will benefit massively from expanded editions, full colour for readers and advertisers, and later deadlines meaning even fuller coverage of breaking news. This move will also allow us to accommodate the rising circulation of the Daily Star. A few years ago, I made a pledge that we would remain committed to our print products and would invest whatever it took to keep control of our printing in our own hands. This upgrade puts our group at the cutting edge of print technology and will give us a vital edge on our rivals in these competitive times.”