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Inverters replace obsolete drives for newspaper printing

Inverters replace obsolete drives for newspaper printing

The Omaha World-Herald was founded in 1885 and is the leading daily news provider in Nebraska and Western Iowa. The World-Herald is the flagship of BH Media Group which has 31 daily and 46 weekly newspapers. The newspaper has won three Pulitzer prizes and countless news industry awards.

The company’s $125m Omaha, Nebraska production centre, known as the John Gottschalk Freedom Centre, houses three printing presses which can each print 75,000 papers per hour, and several Heidelberg inserters.

“The inserters are used for inserting flyers and loose-leaf adverts that customers want to place inside the newspaper,” explained Kent Tryon, production engineer at the plant, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The larger inserters can feed 28 inserts simultaneously, while the smaller ones can feed 15.

“These are complex machines with a lot of rotating equipment and fast-moving grippers, and motion has to be perfectly synchronised. With this in mind, when we learned that the drives on the machines had become obsolete, it was immediately obvious that we had to source a suitable replacement in order to avoid the potential for production downtime.”

The company already had experience of using drives from Control Techniques on its one-ton, 50in wide reel stands, which unwind paper reels ready for printing. Cart loaders, which are used for transferring bundles of printed newspapers as part of an automated materials handling system, also feature drives from Control Techniques.

“Although we had good experience of using drive technology from Control Techniques, we like to assess the market for each project that arises,” said Tryon. “As a result, we asked a number of different suppliers if they had a suitable solution, but few did. Even the manufacturer of our existing drives said that almost everything would have be stripped out and reconfigured. However, Brenden Fritz, president at Automated Drive Systems, stood out from the crowd, stating that the Unidrive M702 would be ideal.”

“We knew that with the M702 drives we could accomplish the retrofit with very few hardware changes, and without needing to modify the PLC code that ran the machine,” said Fritz. “The only programming required would involve equipment we supplied from Control Techniques. Furthermore, the whole installation at the plant could be streamlined into a two-day process.”

Unidrive M700 series AC drives are designed to offer high induction and permanent magnet servo-motor performance, with real-time Ethernet. The Unidrive M702 model, as selected by Automated Drive Systems, also incorporates dual Safe Torque Off (STO) for additional safety functionality.

“Our previous drives needed a lot of I/O and a PLC, but the M700 has an on-board PLC,” said Tryon. “Furthermore, the interface on the Unidrive M702 is very flexible. We can use different Profibus modules or different encoders, for example. Also, it can determine what motor is deployed and link to it immediately, which means we are not stuck with having to use one motor type.”

Installed in 2016, the new M702 drives have proved totally reliable: five are installed on each of the large Heidelberg 632 inserters, and two on the smaller models. The inserters feed around 15,000-20,000 inserts an hour. As well as Omaha World-Herald, the production centre also prints daily and Sunday editions of The Daily NonPareil for southwest Iowa. The Daily NonPareil is southwest Iowa’s largest newspaper.

Tryon is now planning to install drives from Control Techniques to more inserters and reel stands as part of a planned upgrade programme, while additional cart loaders will also be fitted with Unidrive technology as and when they fail or come out of service.

“I would recommend these drives to other plants,” he concluded. “They are a good, tight drive with a flexible interface that makes communication with other equipment easy. Furthermore, Control Techniques has always proved very helpful with their technical support.”

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