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Miami Herald printing press plant brings new vitality

It took more than 150 tractor-trailers loads, about 12 months and 50-plus people to disassemble, move and reassemble three mammoth printing presses that each weigh more than one million pounds.

Now, the three Goss Newsliner presses — known as red, orange and green — are settled inside a newly constructed 119,000-square-foot printing plant built on six acres of land adjacent to the Miami Herald Media Company’s headquarters at 3511 NW 91st Ave. in Doral.

Since its move from downtown Miami to the new location six weeks ago, the production plant has been printing the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald along with 21 other commercial publications, including the New York Daily News, the New York Post and El País.

“What this says about our strength is that print is alive and well in South Florida,’’ said Craig Woischwill, a senior vice president who oversees circulation and operations. “There is a demand for our services and there is always going to be a demand for top-quality ink on paper.”

The new setting and technological enhancements have brought renewed vitality to the operation, though readers and advertisers probably don’t notice a difference.

That’s a good thing. It means the presses have performed well in the midst of an enormously complicated move.

"Our new printing facility provides readers and advertisers of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald with products full of more color, as well as the ability to offer new and exciting ad configurations,’’ said Alexandra Villoch, a senior vice president in charge of advertising and marketing. “There is much more yet to come. We’re very excited about future plans in our new location."

The Herald is the only major city newspaper in the last four years to build a printing plant and move its presses from one location to another. At the same time, all office employees were relocated over the course of three weekends to a renovated office building next to the production plant.

The Herald’s press foundation is three feet of solid concrete, filled with rebar, 30 feet wide and almost 400 feet long. To make the press pad, 55 cement trucks poured for six consecutive hours. The walls were precast, and lifted into place, with some weighing in at 170,000 pounds. There is room for 800 to 900 rolls of newsprint.

The company began printing on the green press on April 27 and followed that three days later with the launch of the orange press. The red press will launch end of June.

“We knew most of the existing equipment would carry over to the new facility,’’ said Mike Christopher, director of digital and printing operations. “The new building is designed with one level for the high-volume material handling. That’s a welcome change from the six floors of the downtown building. It’s a huge plus in managing our workflow, and we’re very happy with the results.”

The three presses in Doral are among a total of five the company used at its former location at One Herald Plaza. Two of the presses — which were left at the old building — were harvested for parts to help boost future printing performance such as increased color capacity. For efficiency and flexibility, the three presses in Doral were reconfigured into a single line and the press management software and servers were upgraded.

Updated conveyor technology was installed to transport newspapers between the press and the loading dock. Five overhauled conveyor systems were equipped with new forwarding and delivery stations to manage the two million newspaper editions produced weekly. Production runs average about 65,000 copies per hour on each conveyer line.

Woischwill said the upgrades and new setup make it “as effective as we possibly can to print top quality, award-winning journalism in this county.”