Toray Industries Inc. began construction on a new printing-plate factory in the Czech Republic to increase the production of its waterless CTP plates. The Japanese company expects the facility to be operational in early 2014.

Encompassing both coating and converting capabilities, the new Czech production facility is based on an investment of over $50 million, which is aimed at printers involved with newspaper and semi-commercial production in Europe, the Middle East and North America.

“The project to establish European manufacturing capacity for waterless plates is proceeding on schedule and the engineering phase is now substantially completed,” said Toshimitsu Matsumoto, General Manager of Graphics Division, Toray. “Site preparation in Prostejov is in the final stages and the erection of the building that will house the new production line for Toray waterless CTP plates will begin this summer.”

Field-testing of the products from the new plant is expected to begin in late 2013 and commercial sales to the local market will commence in January 2014. This capital investment follows the 2003 development of a modern coating facility in Toray’s industrial complex in Okazaki, Japan, where both letterpress and waterless offset plates are currently produced.

After last week’s announcement about the establishment of a United States sales and service organization called manroland web systems Inc., the new and distinct sheetfed division of manroland released a statement today that it also remains committed to the North American marketplace – both in Canada and the United States.

U.K.-based Langley Holdings, which purchased manroland sheetfed GmbH in February 2012, is expected to name a new CEO for North American in the coming days. Roland Ortbach last week was named CEO for manroland’s web systems operation based in Chicago. When Langley Holdings purchased manroland sheetfed GmbH, the acquisition also included taking over the international marketing organization of manroland AG – currently with a presence in 40 countries. 

“We are exceptionally well positioned to do business,“ stated Michael Mugavero, manroland’s Vice President of Sales for North American, speaking about the sheetfed operation’s commitment. "Under our new ownership, manroland’s North American operations can move forward as a more nimble, flatter entity."

To this end, manroland sheetfed GmbH will be releasing new products at the upcoming drupa 2012 tradeshow in Germany. The company will highlight its ROLAND 700 press with Indexing InlineFoiler, as well as enhancements to make-ready, colour control, inline options and the overall PRINTVALUE umbrella of products.

“We are grateful for the return of support we have received from customers in recent months,“ continued Mugavero. “They are our backbone and our lifeline for the future. Our unrelenting commitment to customers will remain unchanged, as we are in this for the long-haul.”

In the wake of its acquisition of the shares of Quad/Graphics Canada Inc. finalized on March 1, 2012, Transcontinental Inc. announced today that it will be reorganizing its print operations across Canada, which will involve closing two Quad/Graphics plants and the integration of a third location.

Transcontinental's integration of the six Quad/Graphics plants in Canada (Aurora, Concord, Dartmouth, Edmonton, LaSalle and Rivière-des-Prairies) will result in the closure of the Dartmouth Quad/Graphics plant (at 57 Wright Avenue, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) on April 20, 2012 and of the Rivière-des-Prairies Quad/Graphics plant (at 8000 Blaise Pascal, Montréal, Québec) on or about June 30th, 2012. The four remaining plants will be integrated into the Transcontinental network in order to maximize the use of each piece of equipment across our entire print network. Furthermore, the Quad Graphics Toronto Que-Net Media premedia centre (at 4500 Hood Road, Markham) will also be integrated with the Transcontinental premedia centre and will move to Mississauga, Ontario.

"The process of integrating the Canadian operations of Quad/Graphics was given a great deal of study and is a good fit with market requirements and Transcontinental's long-term vision," said François Olivier, president and Chief Executive Officer of TC Transcontinental. "We have difficult choices to make, but are convinced that this is the best strategy for strengthening Transcontinental's base and protecting jobs in order to remain strong in a Canadian indstry that is experiencing tough competition."

According to the company, this announcement is the start of a multi-phase process. The closures were the result of "low utilization rate of the equipment in the newly acquired network." Transcontinental expects the new Quad/Graphics assets to bring in $230 million in new business and generate at least $40 million in net incremental EBITDA over the next 12 to 24 months.

In addition to the closures, some 500 of the 6,900 employees currently working at 33 printing plants will be affected by the integration.

manroland web systems GmbH has announced the founding of its US sales and service organization called manroland web systems Inc. Roland Ortbach, most recently Vice President of commercial web press sales and technical product support, has been named the CEO of the new operation.

The new North American entity became officially active on March 16 and is a completely separate legal entity from manroland sheetfed, which is owned by Langley Holdings. The new organization will operate out of its existing manroland facility in Westmont, Illinois for the foreseeable future, says the parent company. 

Roland Ortbach started his North American management career as Director of Operations with manroland in Canada in 1991. Ortbach joined Sears (part of the Miller Company in Canada) as a salesman in 1984.

“I could not be more pleased with our new corporate ownership, with our new organization, manroland web systems Inc., and with the opportunity afforded our team and me to serve our customers and the industry at large in North America,” said Ortbach.

The Waterloo Community Arts Centre has opened a facility which promotes the craft of printmaking in the region. Dubbed the Waterloo Print Studio, the facility features custom hands-on workshop for school groups and businesses.

The studio is open every Friday from 10am to 4pm to allow experienced printmakers access to its equipment (which includes a Takach etching and lithography press), under the supervision of a trained technician. The program features instructor Hubert Haisoch, a printmaker with over 50 years of teaching experience in Canada and the U.S. 

The Print Studio will feature programs such as lecture series, exhibitions and will promote print through youth programs. The facility is part of the Button Factory, a shared work space home to various art initiatives in the region.

Waterloo newspaper The Record, profiled the facility: Read the full story here.

More information about The Button Factory can be found at their website.

Giesecke & Devrient, self-described as one of the world’s largest privately owned banknote printers, announced a restructuring of BA International which will shutter its banknote printing operation in Ottawa.

The BA International operation plans to cease printing banknotes for the Canadian and international markets by the end of 2012. The company specifically relates its decision to the introduction of Canadian polymer banknotes, which are expected to last longer.

According to G&D, it is in discussions with the Bank of Canada about new services to be provided by BA International, which could save some jobs for the 190 employees of BA International.

The company states it is committed to continuing the production and personalization of payment and ID card systems for the Canadian market.

Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Giesecke & Devrient has a workforce of over 10,000 employees and generated sales of EUR 1.7 billion in fiscal 2010, from 61 subsidiaries and joint ventures in 32 countries.

Just weeks after purchasing the publishing assets of Groupe Le Canada Français, which included 11 weekly and monthly printed titles, as well as Web portals, Transcontinental Media made another regional move in the province to acquire the majority of assets from Avantage Consommateurs de l'Est du Québec inc.

While the earlier purchase focused on publications and Web portals serving the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Granby areas of Quebec, the company’s newest acquisition includes three well-known publications for an area stretching from Saint-Simon to Gaspé.

In other news, Transcontinental's Printing division announced that by late September 2011 it will transfer its modern production equipment from Transcontinental Litho Acme to Transcontinental Direct Montreal. According to the company, this means that production teams from the two units will be combined at Transcontinental Direct Montreal. The reorganization will eliminate the positions of some 30 employees, out of a total workforce of 335.

“This new stage in the lives of Transcontinental Litho Acme and Transcontinental Direct Montreal fits in well with Transcontinental's development plan,” stated Patrice Lacoste, Senior VP, Marketing Products Group, Transcontinental Printing.

The publishing assets acquired from Avantage Consommateurs include print and electronic publications of the weekly Rimouski community paper L'Avantage votre journal, reaching more than 43,000 households from Saint-Simon to Sainte-Florence in the Matapedia Valley; L'Avantage gaspésien, with more than 17,000 copies distributed from Baie-des-Sables to Rivière-Madeleine; and the monthly Le Régional, with a circulation of 91,000 copies in Eastern Quebec.

“The purchase of Rimouski's L'Avantage votre journal and its affiliated publications shows our commitment to growing our solid community paper network in Quebec, especially in the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie regions,” said Serge Lemieux, VP Newspaper Division, Quebec and Ontario, Transcontinental Media.

All of these Quebec communities are also served by the regional Web portal lavantage.qc.ca, which now joins Transcontinental Media's digital network – comprised of over 1,000 Websites, reaching 11.3-million unique visitors per month in Canada.

Transcontinental also picked up what it describes as the significant door-to-door distribution network of Avantage Consommateurs de l'Est du Québec inc., which already had a partnership with Transcontinental to distribute Publisac to more than 91,000 households in the area.

“I have great confidence in handing over the reins to Transcontinental,” stated Gonzague Drapeau, President of Avantage Consommateurs. “Having worked with their staff in our printing and distribution partnerships, I know that we share the same values of quality and respect, which are fundamental to our publications. This marks a new stage in the life of L'Avantage, opening new doors and possibilities for both our advertisers and the communities we serve.”

NewPage Corp. announced plans yesterday to take downtime on both paper machines at its Port Hawkesbury mill in Nova Scotia, Canada. The downtime is scheduled to begin September 10 for the mill’s PM1 newsprint machine and September 16 for the PM2 super-calendered machine.

According to NewPage, the decision is based on a combination of factors, including unfavorable exchange rates between the United States and Canada, as well as high utility and shipping costs. The company states these conditions have rendered its Port Hawkesbury mill operations unprofitable for more than a year. 

Headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, NewPage expects to fulfill certain pre-existing orders for its super-calendered papers from its mill in Duluth, Minnesota, but does not produce newsprint from any other mill location and therefore will be unable to serve these customers during the downtime.

“Despite the continued dedication and efforts of our team at Port Hawkesbury to drive cost improvements, extremely challenging economic conditions at this location have forced us to make this difficult, but necessary business decision,” said George Martin, President and CEO for NewPage.

According to Mark Lukacs, Senior VP of Operations, “The Port Hawkesbury mill makes great newsprint, improved newsprint and super-calendered paper for the printing and publishing industries. We have a very dedicated and talented workforce and this downtime is in no way a reflection on them.”

The Mayor of Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua, congratulated the co-owners of Advertek, Joe Montalbano and Simon Spina, during an open house to celebrate their recently opened 30,000-square-foot plant.

Advertek was founded 14 years ago and Montalbano and Spina took over ownership, along with a third partner no longer involved in the business, back in 1999. At the time, Advertek was an 8-employee shop running a 4-colour Solna press and turning over about $800,000 in sales every year.

Construction on Advertek’s new plant, designed by Montalbano and Spina, began in June 2010 with operations starting up in November of last year.

Today, the company runs four Heidelberg sheetfed presses, including two 6-colour, 40-inch machines; a 4-colour, 20-inch; and a 2-colour, 18-inch that is primarily used for stationary work. Advertek has also invested in several pieces of finishing technology and toner-based presses for the new facility, most recently installing a Xerox 800 and Xerox 4127.

Pictured above:
Vaughan Mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua, leads Advertek’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Transcontinental has announced it will be shuttering its Spot Graphics plant in Winnipeg by the end of the year. The plant staff has already been cut in half while and the work is being transferred to Transcontinental PLM in Toronto.

"Customers' needs are changing, both in terms of technology and the expertise required to carry out their projects. This has led us to invest more in our platform and to focus on specific centres of excellence," said Patrice Lacoste, Senior Vice President, Marketing Products Group, Transcontinental Printing. "With this transfer, the corporation will be able to offer its customers highly efficient and state-of-the-art technology under one roof."

Winnipeg's printing community has been hit hard with closures this year, including Printcrafters entering receivership in April and Naylor publications closing shop at the beginning of the year. The two plants employed 125 and 80 employees respectively.

Transcontinental will maintain only one plant in Winnipeg after the closure of Spot Graphics: LGM-Coronet, a commercial sheetfed and web printing facility.

T.R. Offset, a Trois-Rivières, Quebec plant of Transcontinental will be shuttered effective June 4. The move will eliminate 50 positions as jobs are transferred to Transcontinental's Transmag plant in Montreal.

"In the past three years, Transcontinental has invested heavily in new print technology, greatly increasing production capacity," says Ted Markle, Transcontinental's Senior Vice-President, Newspaper Group, Printing Sector. "During that same period, the printing industry has undergone a major transformation. This has led to a complete review of our newspaper printing network and, unfortunately, to the closure of our newspaper printing operations in Trois-Rivières."

According to Transcontinental, the company has invested over $60 million over the past two years in new technology for Transmag. The daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste, the only publication currently printed at Transcontinental T.R. Offset will be moved to Transmag.

T.R. Offset was part of a three plant acquisition by Transcontinental from publisher Gesca Ltd. in March, 2002. Included in the deal was a $50-million, 15-year contract for Transcontinental to print three Gesca newspapers, one of which is Le Nouvelliste.

Domtar Corp. announced it will proceed with three projects to improve energy conservation at its Kamloops, British Columbia, pulp mill. The $17.3 million investment is to be entirely funded by credits received from the Government of Canada's Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program. The company expects all three of its Kamloops energy projects to be online by the third quarter of 2011.

Under the Green Transformation Program, Domtar has allocated a total of $143 million dollars for investments aimed at improving environmental performance. The funding can be invested at any of Domtar’s four pulp and paper mills in Canada.

“We welcome and appreciate the support we have received from Natural Resources Canada under this program," said Eric Ashby, VP and GM of the Domtar Kamloops Mill. "This is the second major capital improvement in our mill announced in the last 12 months and we look forward to further improving the energy efficiency of our operations."

For more specific information on Domtar’s Kamloops projects, visit BC Hydro’s Website.

Rotoflex, a division of St. Louis, Missouri-based Mark Andy Inc., moved its research and development team into a new Toronto-based technology centre, which, according to the company, includes a new state-of-the-art lab and testing area.

While Mark Andy focuses on the manufacture of narrow-web printing equipment, Rotoflex develops inspection/rewind equipment and UVT curing technology. Rotoflex’ manufacturing has been based in Toronto since the company was founded in 1973. Today, Rotoflex has customers in over 75 countries.

The company describes its new R&D centre, which is to be supported by Agile project management architecture and software like ProE 3D and Eagle, as an extension to recent technology launches of the Genesis control system and the updated Vericut finishing product.

Xerox announced plans to invest another $25 million over the upcoming year to expand its emulsion aggregation (EA) toner plant based in Webster, New York. According to the company, the move will increase the EA toner manufacturing capacity of the plant by 50 percent.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and should be completed by the end of 2011. The expansion will add 10 engineers and union technicians to the current workforce of about 75.

Xerox opened this 5-story, 100,000-square-foot plant in 2007 based on an initial $60-million investment. The plant has more than 20 miles of pipe and stainless steel tanks that produce billions of micron-sized toner particles. It uses more than 4,000 sensors to track information about temperature, humidity, airflow and other variables. Xerox's total capital investment in the toner plant will now reach nearly $100 million.

"As one of the world's largest producers of toner, we have looked at several alternatives on how and where to expand our manufacturing capacity," said Wim Appelo, President of the Xerox Global Business and Services Group.  "We chose to upgrade our existing facility not only because it makes the most economic sense but also because we benefit from the strong local technological expertise and the opportunity to invest in job growth in the U.S.”

Quad/Graphics Inc. announced yesterday that it is investing $20 million to expand its insert-printing capabilities, which includes adding four offset presses to its Lomira, Wisconsin, facility. The investment focuses on Quad's ability to print highly versioned, smaller-page-count advertising formats inserted into newspapers.

“Advertising inserts continue to provide high marketing ROI by driving store traffic while also serving as an effective complement to online, mobile and other marketing efforts,” said Joel Quadracci, Chairman, President & CEO of Quad/Graphics. “Now, with high-quality offset and gravure capabilities near every major retail market in the United States and Canada, our geographic presence and process footprint spans the continent.”

The company's press investment includes two new 24-page presses with gapless blanket technology. According to Quad, its Lomira facility has an established capability in gravure printing, and the addition of offset printing is strategically important to better serving the needs of national and regional customers for Midwest production and distribution. The equipment will start up in mid-2011.

Back on October 6, 2010, Quad announced plans for a $23 million investment, primarily for retail-focused printing, in its Canadian infrastructure and manufacturing platform within the next year. The company at the time announced it would close the St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu plant in Quebec and refocus its operations in Edmonton, Alberta.

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