Have you ever noticed the CMYK dots on the left side of the Times? Not the simply small ones near the bottom, but the microscopic ones in the middle? Turns out they are one of many registration marks used to ensure that each colour run is aligned. Powerful cameras spot them as the prints fly by, and the paper is automatically adjusted if they’re off; a control room employee oversees the process, manually overriding as necessary.
What a fascinating tour! Mike, the plant foreman, generously showed us the giant paper rolls, ink storage, plate room, print floor, Muller Martini storage system, quality control, collation & palleting. I loved the contrast of laser-guided robots gliding across the concrete floor with the old-school bikes used by mechanics and engineers to get around the vast plant. The scale of the enterprise, the precision of each machine, the expertise of the employees is impressive. It’s hard to believe this is a dying industry, one in which circulation is steadily declining as the pace of technology increases.
Seeing this process firsthand is an incredible reminder of the value of reading the analogue paper with your coffee on a bright Sunday morning.