SPH invests $45m to upgrade printing assets (BT)

BackApr 14, 2010

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is investing $45 million to rejuvenate its printing assets, a move which will raise the company's productivity significantly and better meet advertisers' demands.

SPH chairman Tony Tan, who launched the upgrading and renewal project at the company's Print Centre in Jurong yesterday, said the project is a reaffirmation that print is still a core business of the media group.

SPH, which owns a stable of newspapers and magazines including The Business Times, has in recent years ventured into new media with online news, search and interactive portals. 'But while we continue to venture into other arenas, our core business is in print and our newspapers and magazines still bring in the bulk of our revenue and profits,' said Dr Tan.

The $45 million investment in the two-and-a-half-year project, which started in April last year, is in new press control systems, improved colour capacity for existing computerised printing presses, and digitised computer-to-plate systems to replace old film-based ones. All new systems are expected to be fully operational by the second half of next year.

Anthony Cheng, executive vice-president of production, said that vendors and partners for this project were chosen after a 'rigorous and thorough evaluation process'.

ABB Industry and Harland Simon won the contracts to replace press control systems for the GOSS Colorliner presses at the Print Centre, which were installed in 1996.

These presses usually have a life span of 30 years but swift computer advancements have meant that the control systems need replacing or risk becoming technologically obsolete. SPH expects this replacement to keep the presses running for another 15 years.

Upgrading of the Colorliner presses' colour capacity will be handled by the original manufacturer, GOSS International. With the upgrade, the presses will be able to handle 40 back-to-back coloured broadsheet pages, up from the current 24, in a single run. This will allow newspapers printed on these presses, such as Lianhe Zaobao, The New Paper and The Business Times, to better meet advertising demands, SPH said.

Agfa Graphics will undertake the third major upgrade, which will do away with film-based plate making, replacing this with a digitised computer-to-plate one instead.

SPH said with the success of the digitised system that was introduced in the UNISET press in the Media Centre as a pilot project, it expects the full roll-out at the Print Centre to yield greater automation and higher productivity.