Case Study

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Safety Record Success At Fairfax’s Tamworth Press

Rockwell Automation® safety solution lays the foundation for an industry leading safety record

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  • To upgrade the control and drive system at Tamworth Press with a strong focus on safety



  • The solution is compliant with AS 4024 for machine safety
  • The safety guarding does not interfere with maintenance and production requirements of the press
  • Working components have excellent reliability and the press undergoes a monthly checklist to make sure all the guards are operating correctly
  • The press’s safety record is the best in the group and boasts over 2300 days without lost time injury

With the advancement of the digital age, gone are the days where printing presses were required to reside within close proximity to the journalists, who would rush a story down to the print room for inclusion in tomorrow's newspaper.

It now makes good business sense to invest in new technologies and consolidate print centres to service a broader geographical location.

Fairfax's original printing press in Tamworth, New South Wales was installed back in 1997. The press was constructed from second hand equipment from various sites around Australia and was approximately 25-30 years old.

As a result of restructuring and with the requirement to consolidate a number of regional printing presses, a new greenfield facility was built in Tamworth and existing equipment from regional areas including Wagga, Nowra, and Warrnambool were relocated to the site.

With a strong focus on health and safety at the site, Fairfax conducted a risk assessment with participation from Goss International and Rockwell Automation.

Based on the findings of the risk assessment, an innovative safety solution was commissioned at the site. This culminated in an enviable safety record for the press that is based on the latest technologies in integrated control and safety.

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GuardLogix safety controllers met all the safety and control requirements for the press

Driving Safe Print Production

In addition to printing its main paper, The Northern Daily Leader, Tamworth press is also responsible for publishing newspapers for the surrounding regional towns. Each week the print centre goes through 15 to 20 tonnes of newsprint.

January is one of the busier periods with additional print runs needed to meet the demands of Tamworth's country music festival. The team produces around 20,000 to 30,000 copies of the festival guide. To continue to meet these requirements while putting safety first, a risk assessment was conducted to provide insight into ways to improve safety outcomes and productivity at the press.

According to David Hedges, plant manager at Tamworth Press, “As a company, we are very focused on safety. We want our workers to go home in the same condition they arrived to work that day so safety is paramount in everything we do here. We looked at ways to improve procedures and what we could do to improve the safety aspect of the work.”

As part of a national move towards increased plant safety, regulations have been introduced which specify various employers' duties for plants under their management and control. These regulations require the employer to undertake the risk assessment process for either new or relocated plants.

The machine guarding and risk audit identified the required safety category for the guarding. “Fairfax have rigid safety standards and take safety very seriously so this safety solution went the extra mile to exceed current requirements,” said Matt Sharkady, general manager at Goss International.

“Having worked with Rockwell Automation previously, we knew that their control and drive solution would meet these safety requirements. In addition, the fact that they had an experienced, local team that could do all the engineering was another reason that made Rockwell Automation stand out as the most appropriate choice for this project.

It meant that we were working in a real time interface and their engineering team could visit the site to commission and make sure everything was working well as opposed to working with an overseas group where the time zones would be out of sync,” he explained.

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For fast troubleshooting, the PanelView graphic terminals display the status of the guards, showing which guards are open and which ones are closed.

Integrated Control and Safety

Key to the success of the project was the requirement for a completely integrated solution that would provide effective safety, drive and process control for the press.

“GuardLogix® safety controllers met all the safety and control requirements for the press. The control and drive system was configured so that some particular safety guards could not be opened until the press reached a slow speed, while opening a unit guard at the inappropriate time would stop the press to help prevent injuries ” explained Peter Tomazic, senior solutions consultant at Rockwell Automation.

DeviceNet™ provided communications between the Safety IO and GuardLogix to deliver integrated safety, drive and process control. Four PowerFlex® DC drives were used to power the press which were linked back to the control system using ControlNet™ communications. There were also more than 110 Sipha™ Sensors that were put on the guards throughout the press.

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More than 110 Sipha Sensors were put on the guards throughout the press

For fast troubleshooting, the PanelView™ graphic terminals display the status of the guards, showing which guards are open and which ones are closed. “If an adjustment has been made to a part of the press and the guard is left open, we can see from the console exactly which guard was left open. We can then go directly to close that guard so the press can continue to operate as usual,” explained Hedges.

“Another feature of the solution is the ability to integrate additional guarding among the machinery. When we decided to add some doors in front of the reel stands to protect the printers from moving rollers, we were able to loop this additional guarding into the existing program really easily which was very beneficial for us,” he said.

Safe Guarded Record

The press contains six print towers, six reel stands with two folders that create the end newspapers. This print line can either be run as two independent presses (each containing three print towers with a folder) or they can be run as one press.

“To allow for this we introduced zoning into the safety system so that when used as one press, all of the press's safe stops are active but if they are run as two separate presses the safe stop of one press does not control the other. There is also an emergency stop which can stop everything if required,” said Tomazic.

In the design of the safety system, there was no stone left unturned which is why there is not one moving part that anyone can get hold of without having to take a guard off. There are over 150 guards just on the press alone, to keep fingers out and avoid serious injuries.

“Sometimes guarding can be cumbersome and cause issues with maintenance and production but with this solution there has been no hold up in production or maintenance schedules and it provides the safety and work environment for staff that we were wanting to achieve,” said Hedges.

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There are over 150 guards on the press alone, to keep fingers out and avoid serious injuries.

“In addition, we have found the working components offer great reliability and on top of that, we have implemented a monthly check list to make sure all the guards are working correctly and operating correctly. Every month we physically disconnect and open the guards on all our guard switches,” he said.

Since the installation of the press there have been no failures on the guard switches and there have been no injuries or near misses thanks to the high level guarding at the press. This is reflected in the press's safety record, which is the best in the group.

“We're now up to 2,369 days without lost-time injury so we know that our staff will be able to go home at the end of the day in the same way they came to work each and every day,” said Hedges.


The results mentioned above are specific to this customer's use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.

Allen-Bradley, GuardLogix, PowerFlex, Sipha, and PanelView are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.


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