(02/16/2023 / sbr)

New technology to meet the demands of the supplement business

Our constantly changing production range spurred Rheinpfalz on to overhaul their mailroom. To process large numbers of supplements even more efficiently, a second Ferag EasySert insert line was commissioned at the Oggersheim printing centre in Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim in late autumn 2022. Die Rheinpfalz is one of the biggest daily newspapers in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, having celebrated its 75th birthday in 2020. Rheinpfalz’s printing centre in the Oggersheim neighbourhood in Ludwigshafen first came into being in 1979. The site benefits from excellent transport connections, being in direct proximity of the Bundesstrasse B9 main road and the nearby surrounding Autobahn motorways.

Over 130 full-time and part-time staff, plus a yet larger number of temporary staff, work on the production of Die Rheinpfalz, in addition to other newspapers, weeklies and magazines, at the Oggersheim printing centre. As well as the technical departments for printing, mailing and maintenance with administration, the departments for advertisement pagination and coordination, page layout and production management are located in the same building.

In 2008, Rheinpfalz commissioned a KBA Cortina waterless offset newspaper press, fitted with six 4/2 towers and three folders. The adjoining mailroom facilities by Ferag featuring three MultiSertDrums, however, dated back to 1999 and 2000. As early as 2019, the increasing number of supplements triggered investment in a Ferag EasySert inserting line.

From four down to three

Stephan Eckel, Technical Manager at Rheinpfalz, and his team have many years of experience in working with the flexible EasySert inserting technology and the FlyStream collating line’s repair function. As their experiences were so positive, the Palatine company opted for an additional conversion in 2022: two of the MultiSert drum lines, which were around 20 years old, were swapped for a single EasySert inserting drum with FlyStream. In total, the result was that four processing lines were trimmed down to three – two EasySert drums and one remaining MultiSert drum.

The EasySert drums are therefore now playing their part in daily newspaper production every night. Stephan Eckel: “We produce over 200,000 daily newspapers in 13 regional editions. That’s why it's crucial that there are always three mailroom lines available within a narrow production time window.” It is for this reason that the conversion project, which started in October 2021, was planned out over the course of more than a year. At first, a shortened version of the new ESR was installed until the dismantling of the second inactive MultiSert drum line had freed up enough space for the full length of the FlyStream collating line.

Much like Rheinpfalz's first EasySert line, their second line also has over 30 hopping stations for supplements. In addition to this, the lines are equipped with two preprint feeders from the disc, which can be of great assistance when dealing with difficult-to-process supplements. A RollStream line with six hoppers that was already available at the premises was connected to the remaining MultiSert drum.

Up to 12 million supplements per week

The two EasySert lines are most in their element when manufacturing freesheets. In Oggersheim, over a million freesheets of this kind are produced every week both for their own publishing house and external customers. Some weeks, this entails administering, transporting and inserting over 12 million supplements in partial editions that sometimes have runs as small as 1,000 copies.

This is why Rheinpfalz's printing centre has a sophisticated logistics system with three warehouse zones, some of which are in separate buildings. Four driverless transport systems are responsible for a significant portion of goods movement between the central unpacking area for the supplement pallets and the “parking spaces” near the JetFeeder hoppers.

Rheinpfalz relies on Ferag’s Optimizer software to find the most logical production structure. Being equipped with 29 or 30 JetFeeders allows the hoppers to be occupied flexibly and helps to optimise production, thereby increasing efficiency. The integration of two TapeFix stations affords additional flexibility, so that supplements can be bundled even without a carrier product.

The experiences gained from the first installation three years earlier were highly instructive when commissioning a second ESR/FSR line in time for Christmas 2022, standing the staff in good stead for the change and keeping the commissioning phase very brief.