A three-year project to upgrade the controls and drives on the press used for The Halifax Herald Ltd.'s flagship newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, recently wrapped up.

The Halifax Herald in Nova Scotia is the largest independently owned newspaper publisher in Canada. The publisher has just one press at its print site just outside Halifax, so the upgrade of the new systems had to be done without interrupting normal daily production.

The Herald’s Wifag OF370 printing press at the print center consists of two 4/1 printing towers, one 2/2 printing unit and one 4/4 tower, a double folder, and five reelstands. The project to upgrade the press was divided into three phases. ABB reported previously on the successful completion of the first phase, involving the controls on the printing units and folder, the control consoles and the production management systems. The remaining phases, replacement of all the press drives, controls and drives of the reelstands, have now been completed, too.

The drives retrofit phase involved the replacement of all major drive components on the press, including those for the printing units, folders and the draw rollers. In order to ensure that the production work at the Halifax Herald was not hindered in any way, the new drives and motion control had to be managed in parallel with the existing systems. The new drives were initially installed in temporary cabinets, which made it possible for the ABB team to switch easily and quickly between the old and new systems. This was essential to take advantages of the short periods when the press was not in production.

Extra flexibility

"Much of the effort and even more of the complexity of a project like this lie in the transitional phase, where old and new systems need to run together with high precision. That is a challenge for us engineers, but is essential if the press is to stay in production on a daily basis," said Matthias Bilgerig, Automation team leader at ABB Printing in Switzerland.

The final phase consisted of the replacement of the controls and drives on the five reelstands. The Halifax Herald can print all its normal products with just four reelstands, so one reelstand at a time could be taken out of service for the retrofit. The plan foresaw a shutdown time of two weeks per reelstand for all the installation, commissioning and testing work. By the fifth reelstand the ABB crew had cut this down to three days.

Mike Murtha, director, Production and Facilities at the Halifax Herald, is pleased. "We can now use our double folder for two independent productions, which was previously not possible. We have also eliminated single points of failure and now have a control system for which spare parts will be available for at least the next 10 years," Murtha said.

"One of the advantages of being in a global organization like ABB is that we have very capable teams locally in so many countries," says Steve Kirk, project manager for the Halifax project.

Switzerland-based ABB is an automation supplier to the newspaper industry. The company operates in more than 100 countries with about 135,000 employees.

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