project nearing finish line
DNA’s upgrade covers all the right bases as Post goes
By Chuck Moozakis
only a few last-minute software integration projects left to go, the Denver
Newspaper Agency last month essentially wrapped up its multimillion-dollar
upgrade to its production infrastructure.
“The plant is evolving,” said
Paul Gledhill, former vice president of operations at the agency, which
publishes The Denver Post and (Denver) Rocky Mountain News (daily combined,
450,616; Saturday, 490,471; Sunday, 600,229) under a joint operating agreement.
Gledhill, who along with former senior vice president of operations Frank Dixon
oversaw the 2-year project, retired last month after 17 years at the agency.
Dixon retired in October.
DNA spent more than $100
million for the upgrade at the Edward W. Estlow Printing Plant in north Denver,
which included five new presses, new postpress and computer-to-plate equipment,
a slew of new production software and an automated storage and retrieval system.
Photos: Newspapers &
of two 39:1 Magnapaks from Goss International Corp. are readied for production.
Former Denver Newspaper Agency vice president of operations Paul Gledhill helped
spearhead the two-year project.
Move to single site
In the process, DNA
mothballed a plant formerly used to print The Post and moved all its production
to a single site.
DNA based its production
around five GeoMAN 4-by-2 presses from MAN Roland Inc., replacing 10 machines in
the process. The GeoMANs, with a 21-inch cutoff and variable web width, doubled
DNA’s color capacity. Their improved print quality, meantime, gave DNA the
freedom to shrink the tabloid News some 20 percent, to a size of 13.5 inches
tall by 10.5 inches wide without losing registration (see “New Rocky aimed at
wooing readers, cutting expenses,” Newspapers & Technology, March 2007).
DNA’s upgrade of its
postproduction was equally critical, Gledhill said. The publisher’s former
postpress foundation was ill-suited to handle growing preprint demands. And
obsolete technology made maintenance difficult.
Katie McManus, DNA’s director of packaging
with Brent Griebling,
director of transportation, in front of one of agency’s new Schur
Packaging Systems palletizers.
DNA subsequently bolstered
postpress with inserting equipment from Goss International Corp., palletizing
systems from Schur Packaging Systems Inc., gripper conveyor from Ferag, label
applicators from Accraply Inc. and software from Burt Technologies Inc. and
Enternet. It also tapped HK Systems to build a 3,400-position, 80-foot-tall ASRS
to manage preprints.
Goss supplied two 39:1
Magnapaks and one NP642 inserter. It also reconfigured four existing NP632s and
meshed all of the equipment with Burt supervisory software.
Schur, meantime, delivered 11
Winrob II palletizing systems, configured as five double cells that include 10
palletizers and five PSW stretch wrappers plus one single cell containing one
palletizer and one wrapper.
The palletizers represented
some of the biggest improvements in postproduction operations, said Katie
McManus, DNA’s director of packaging.
“It’s been a huge change,”
she said. “This gives use better tracking of bundles and also lets us support
finer zoning.” The system also automates many former manual processes and
provides DNA with a wealth of performance and tracking data it never had before,
McManus said the agency is
getting similar benefits from the ASRS. Information about insert pallets is
transmitted via the system to Burt software, which allows DNA operators to track
the progress of preprints as they travel from production floor to delivery
“The DNA deployment is
representative of Burt and is a great example of mixed inserter controls from
Goss and Enternet working together on the same page,” said Jim Burt, president
of the company that bears his name.
Ultimately, McManus said, DNA
wants to program the ASRS’ MTC management software so the system knows when it’s
time to replenish an insert during a production run, ensuring continuous
operation. “That’s the next level,” she said.
On the prepress side, Kodak
supplied five Trendsetter News 200 thermal computer-to-plate setters, feeding
into Nela plate benders. The systems can generate up to 1,200 plates per hour,
in four different plate sizes.
DNA phased in the equipment
in stages. The inserters, palletizers and ASRS, for example, went into
production in late 2006 while three of the presses and two of the CTP systems
went on-edition in January, producing the News, portions of The Post and some
Transition in September
The publisher operated both
plants through early September, when it shuttered The Post facility and
transferred all production to the Estlow site.
The transition — from two
print sites and older technology to a single facility cloaked with automation
and new equipment — “took long hours of discussion integrating two workforces
into a single site” Gledhill said. “It’s been slow but sure, considering the
The journey hit a brief
roadblock in late October, when deliveries of both the News and Post were
delayed for several days by glitches associated with producing editions inflated
by extra pages and advertising related to the Colorado Rockies’ World Series
Gledhill said the delays were
primarily due to managing the physical size of the papers, which necessitated
collect runs. “It was a challenging time,” he said.
“Modern day printing
technology is wonderful, but it requires operator discipline,” he said.
Now that the Estlow plant is
up and running, DNA will likely turn its attention to attracting additional
commercial accounts. To that end, the agency in October began printing the
31,000-subscriber Daily Camera in nearby Boulder, Colo., joining the production
of Denver’s alternative weekly, Westword, which has a print run in excess of
It also produces the regional
edition of The New York Times at a separate facility anchored by a Goss
International Corp. Mercury press.
“We’ll be looking at
competing for commercial work as it becomes available,” Gledhill said.
|Gledhill calls it ‘30’
In 1959, when Paul Gledhill got his first newspaper job as a paper
handler at the Los Angeles Times, the paper was produced on hulking
letterpresses at its downtown Spring Street headquarters and a
room-sized computer was needed to handle hyphenation and justification
of copy slated for the Times’ classified pages.
Denver Newspaper Agency
vice president of operations Paul Gledhill
helped spearhead the two-year project.
Last month, as he
walked out of the Denver Newspaper Agency’s Edward W. Estlow production
plant for the last time, retiring after 48 years in the industry,
Gledhill, the agency’s vice president of operations, looked back at a
livelihood well spent.
“I enjoyed creating a
new product every day,” he said about his newspaper career.
remain long as a paper handler. He became a press operator in the early
1960s and got his first management job in 1973, when he was promoted to
By the time he left
the Times, in 1990, to join the (Denver) Rocky Mountain News, Gledhill
had become the Los Angeles paper’s vice president of operations. Along
the way, he oversaw the Times’ greatest production expansion in history
as the paper built or reconstructed facilities downtown, in the San
Fernando Valley and in Orange County.
“It all revolved
around the people and being able to communicate,” he said about the
success of those multimillion-dollar projects.
helped Gledhill and former DNA senior vice president of operations Frank
Dixon spearhead the agency’s production upgrade.
“The key to any
project is defining the limitations,” he said, citing distribution of
The Denver Post and News as an example. “When I started here, delivery
was still by paperboys and papers were processed manually and
distributed in step-vans. Today, we have an adult delivery force and the
papers are loaded directly into semi-trucks that back right into the
Gledhill said he
remains optimistic about the future of newspapers.
“We’ve been through
tough times before,” he said. “But newspapers have a tremendous ability
to collect information and news. They just have to find ways to move
that information profitably.”
Gledhill, 66, moved
to San Diego with his wife, Mary Phil, where they will be close to their
family. One son, Jeff, followed in his newspaper footsteps and currently
serves as vice president of operations at The Fresno (Calif.) Bee.