The printing industry is facing a tough time with newspaper readership numbers in decline and advertising budgets being dominated by digital media. Caught between a costly upgrade and the prospect of increasing downtime, one print company found a third option.
The global newspaper industry is undoubtedly suffering due to declining print revenue and sluggish online returns which cannot offset this loss. The decline in print revenue is making return on investment calculations for upgrades to printing presses increasingly difficult, with many caught between the need to upgrade in order to maintain productivity and the knowledge that the newspaper industry may not include hard copies in ten years’ time.
However, one printing company in Stoke-on-Trent has opted for a third option, namely prolonging the life of its current equipment. Harmsworth Printing Ltd forms the printing division of the Associated Press Ltd, delivering more pages of newsprint than any other printer in the UK. The company distributes over 4 million copies of various regional titles through the Northcliffe Group, in addition to national titles such as The Daily Mail and the Evening Standard. It also works on over 200 contract print titles.
In 1997, Harmsworth decided to move from a Goss Metro printing press to its current Goss Colourliner 80 press. This was a significant upgrade and added an additional folder to the process line. Rexroth drives were included in this installation and so an ongoing partnership between Harmsworth and Rexroth began.
During the average life cycle of a printing press, it is expected that the drive failures will begin to increase during the wear-out phase, which is approximately ten years after launch, due to the finite life span of fans and electronic components. The main problem caused by these drive failures for Harmsworth was that they were random and unexpected, meaning the production lines could go down at any time, resulting in a potentially long delay whilst a replacement was delivered.
“Unlike production lines such as those of a car manufacturer, the cost of downtime at a printing company cannot be equated into pounds per minute because alternative print folders can take up the load,” says Richard Welch, maintenance project manager for Harmsworth Printing. “We needed to regain control over the unexpected failures to ensure a reliable service over a sustained period, which would also make us more efficient.”
Rexroth put forward a remanufacturing solution to provide better value, whilst also ensuring ongoing reliability. This would give Harmsworth control over the printing drives and greater control over the random failures.
Remanufacturing involved the replacement of components within the drive that have reached the end of their serviceable life, which are then guaranteed for a further five years. The agreement that was put in place ensures that Harmsworth can now automatically get drives remanufactured as they reach the ten year mark. “If Harmsworth had replaced rather than remanufactured the drives that Rexroth has already worked on, the cost would have been around double the remanufacturing cost,” says Welch.
With remanufacturing, Harmsworth is also able to maintain a more efficient process line. “By being able to use spare drives during the remanufacturing process, we have control over the productivity of the line and can avoid unexpected delays,” says Welch.
“Remanufacturing is a good option for us as it provides greater peace of mind. I can be sure that no money will be spent on individual drives for the five years covered by the guarantee and we are avoiding long delays through unexpected drive failures,” says Welch. “The printing industry is under a lot of pressure and we need to make sure our production line continues to be reliable and as efficient as possible.”
Richard Chamberlain, UK Service Manager for Bosch Rexroth, worked on the project. “We put together a tailored solution for Harmsworth to meet their objectives of keeping costs to a minimum whilst ensuring reliability and efficiency. The remanufacturing agreement means we are able to have an ongoing partnership with Harmsworth to ensure their requirements continue to be met in the difficult environment they are working in.”
He continued: “During the wear-out phase, end-users are faced with the possibility of significant capital investment to return production machines to their previous levels of availability or to continue on with current equipment trying to absorb increasing service and maintenance costs, not to mention increased cost of downtime. Reman’ offers a third potential solution, by extending the life of a drive or component giving the end-user some much needed breathing space.”
For further information on Rexroth log on to www.boschrexroth.co.uk.