See more at i-grafix.com: Scroll down to see SCHEMATIC diagrams of the Mercury’s KBA Comet
The new press, which will be commissioned early next year at Glenorchy Technopark north of Hobart, is part of a $32m upgrading project that includes a new building and Ferag mailroom.
According to group technical manager, Barry Johnson, there were obvious synergies in going with KBA following the successful 2004 installation of a Comet at The Gold Coast Bulletin, another News Limited title, in Molendinar north of Brisbane.
"This project is the biggest-ever for the newspaper in Tasmania, a terrific boost and vote of confidence in its future," says Davies Brothers managing director, Tony Yianni.
Comprising six Pastoline reelstands, six printing towers, a KF 3B double jaw folder and various extras, the new KBA Comet can print up to 96 full-colour tabloid pages and includes facilities for stitching and a quarterfold.
The Comet has a 578mm cut-off and a maximum rated output of 75,000cph in straight production. Web width can be varied between 630 and 870mm, with 810mm the standard.
The two KBA control consoles feature EAE’s Print PP job scheduling and press presetting software, a RIP interface and a diagnostics PC for remote maintenance.
The Mercury, which was established 153 years ago, has a circulation of 51,000 on weekdays and 80,000 at weekends. The existing 35-year-old press limits it to 80 pages, with no more than 16 pages of colour with the result that various supplements, such as a 76-page real estate product, must be contracted out.
Other titles include the state-wide Sunday Tasmanian with a circulation of around 60,000. News Limited’s Tasmanian operation is also the state’s major newspaper distributor.
"The new press will enable us to take control of our own destiny, bringing back in-house the 40 per cent or so of the newspaper that is printed by contractors," says Yianni.
"But the big thing is the ability to print colour in classified, which we don't preprint. We certainly expect classified to grow as a result."
News Corporation supremo, Rupert Murdoch, personally approved the building of the new print centre and the installation of the latest full-colour press.
The Glenorchy Technopark will replace the current printing facility housed in the Argyle St reet wing of the company’s Hobart city site.
All other operations of the newspaper group will continue to be based in art-deco style headquarters of Davies Brothers at 93 Macquarie Street where the company was established more than 150 years ago.
When the upgrading project was first announced last year, Tasmanian Premier, Paul Lennon welcomed the announcement, saying it demonstrated great confidence in the strength of the state’s economy. "I congratulate News Corporation on the faith it is showing in Tasmania and encourage other companies to follow its excellent example," he says.
"It is excellent to see a long-standing Tasmanian company reinvesting with an eye to the future.
"Ongoing investment in Tasmania, like the Mercury’s new printing press, is exactly what we need to keep growing our economy and creating new job opportunities and prosperity in our State."