Friction-free printing thanks to modern dampening solution technology
As part of a retrofit process at Axel Springer, the publishing house is equipping its offset printing facility in Essen-Kettwig with three new systems for dampening solution circulation. Springer entrusted the upgrade to the expertise of technotrans AG, which developed a bespoke solution with individually programmed controls.
In 1973, Axel Springer commissioned what was at the time Europe’s biggest and most modern offset printing facility in Essen-Kettwig. In 1998, the publishing house erected a new building on the same site and brought the production plants up to what was a state-of-the-art level of technology for the time. Dampening solution circulation systems were subsequently deployed day after day for a period of 15 years. After all these years, three plants were already beginning to show signs of wear and tear. Through water erosion, pumps and pipes were leaking so that fluid escaped. In addition, there were no more spare parts for the equipment controls. “We have to guarantee a seamless production process at all times as we rely on attaining high-quality and reproducible printing results,” says Jörg Albert, Print and Dispatch Production Manager at Axel Springer. Up to 700,000 copies of the proprietary products BILD, BILD am Sonntag, DIE WELT, DIE WELT kompakt, WELT am Sonntag, Welt am Sonntag Kompakt and third-party commissions from Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt and other titles are produced in the offset printing facility.
The publishing house therefore decided to replace three of the six plants with new dampening solution circulation systems. In the invitation to tender, Axel Springer formulated the highest demands for reliability and precision. In view of the high production quantities, no failures could be allowed to occur during implementation and commissioning. Already known to the Springer publishing house from previous projects, the Sassenberg specialist in liquid technology, technotrans, was finally able to accomplish it. “We decided on technotrans because we were convinced both by the quality of the work and the equipment,” explains Reimer Henschel, Production and Technology Manager at Axel Springer, who sees his decision confirmed by the result. “The project was an out-and-out success both technically and collaboratively. The joint planning, sharing of expertise and instructions from the technotrans technicians were outstanding,” says Henschel. Technotrans supplied Axel Springer with three gamma.d 200 PW systems, which the Münster company modified in accordance with the specific requirements.
A bespoke solution
Due to night-time production, the systems must be maintained by in-house staff, so the dampening solution circulation systems had to be equipped with controls compliant with Siemens industry standard type S7 1200. The Sassenberg company was the only competitor willing to face this challenge. “Our flexibility in efficiently implementing this additional requirement gave us a decisive advantage over the competition,” says Eike Moes, Director Dampening Solution Technology Section at technotrans.
technotrans programmers tailored the desired Siemens controls to the gamma.d 200 PW zu and put them through a final intensive test phase. In view of the new control system, completely new operating instructions had to be written. In addition, technotrans considerably enhanced the error diagnosis output. Error codes no longer appear on the display: instead, detailed graphic markings are shown.
Due to the spatial conditions and the necessary high tank volume, the usual cabinet design was not possible — instead, the dampening solution tank is positioned at the centre of the solution. “The latest technology is lodged within the robust system. We have specially adapted the basic equipment to the customers wishes and fitted it with high-end solutions for circuit cleaning and dampening solution replacement,” explains Moes.
Quicker and simpler cleaning
The gamma.d 200 PW not only cools the dampening solution but also enables efficient equipment and system cleaning of IPA-free dampening solution circuits. The warm water washing unit cleans the entire circuit with dampening solution or fresh water at around 60 degrees. This is a clear advantage over cold water cleaning models, especially in the event of microbial contamination and soiling of the pipes. In addition, biological pressures are perceptibly reduced.
To facilitate the cleaning and changing of the dampening solution, technotrans solutions are fitted with pump-supported and automatic power draining. For a complete replacement, the installed pump system offers time savings of 20 to 25 minutes compared to traditional equipment, which just lets the liquid run off. In this way, the old dampening solution can also be conveyed in higher-positioned containers and disposed of more easily.
However, the liquid does not have to be completely replaced for dampening solution regeneration. The available dampening solution is driven back to a minimum so that the circulation is guaranteed. Finally, the system is refilled with a large quantity of new dampening solution. Thereby, almost a complete replacement takes place without production having to stop. In the event of damage to the hose, collecting trays on the dampening solution circulation system catch the outflow of liquid. With the help of a dampening sensor in the tray, automatic refilling is prevented. Henschel is completely satisfied with the new technotrans plants: “The systems give an impression of being extremely streamlined and fully developed. Along with higher levels of production safety and lower maintenance intensity, handling and user-friendliness have greatly improved. We have taken a great step forwards.”
The integration of the dampening solution circulation system presented a special challenge. The systems had to be up and running just a few hours after assembly so as not to jeopardise the seamless operating process. As the printing machines always run at night, the time window for the installation was between 3 o’clock in the morning and 5 o’clock in the evening. “This required good coordination and meticulous work on both sides,” says Henschel. The technotrans service team worked in two shifts: In the daytime, the construction was carried out, while in the evening a technotrans technician monitored the plant and trained Axel Springer staff to handle the controls. Once the first dampening solution circulation system was installed without a hitch, systems two and three were set up in one go. Albert sees the precise joint forward planning as the cornerstone for the success: “Thanks to this, we were able to hit the ground running. Despite the time-critical work and an unforeseen test phase, we were able to benefit from the technical competence of the technotrans staff at all times.”
A collaboration between equals
Even after installation, the Sassenberg company stood side by side with the publishing house in an advisory role and supported staff in training. Henschel takes up the story again: “Right from the start, we felt it was a joint project. From planning through to delivery, everything proceeded as we imagined it would. The project was handled constructively in a spirit of partnership and characterised by a goal-oriented approach,” says Henschel.
Since commissioning, the technotrans solutions in the offset printing facility have run flawlessly. Maintenance is carried out entirely by in-house Axel Springer technicians. The publishing house plans further retrofit measures in the future: “technotrans has commended itself in this project for further retrofit investments as a partner,” says Albert.