As printers try to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of their shops, especially in this tough economic environment, one spot on their radar continues to be the bindery. It is usually when the job is ready to go out the door and too many hands are needed to complete the post-press finishing, resulting in a bottleneck.
Bindery manufacturers are quite attune to these problems, and are continually introducing new products to provide more efficiency, more flexibility, and more high-value jobs to help printers differentiate themselves from their competitors.
While the rest of the printshop has been integrated using JDF workflow technology, the bindery has, for the most part, been left behind. But that’s no longer the case. Launching in June, Heidelberg will introduce its Prinect Postpress Manager, the first system that allows full-service print shops to integrate finishing machines fully into their workflow. Working in harmony with the Prinect modules, it ensures a uniquely efficient overall workflow. Postpress processes can be transparently displayed to all parties involved, allocated to particular machines and effectively speeded up. Central acquisition of machine and job data also enables precise actual costing.
“Prinect Postpress Manager will link an entire printer’s systems into one seamless workflow,” said Dan Maurer, vice president of postpress marketing for Heidelberg. “Prinect will collect the information from a job ticket or management information system (MIS), integrate it electronically and pre-schedule the job into the bindery workflow. This will help printers optimize their production planning, and group their jobs together while sending all of this data to their MIS for better job costing, reducing set-up time and job ticket errors and faster turnaround.” Heidelberg will demonstrate the new module at Print 09 this fall.
Reading Up on Changes
The book manufacturing industry has been going through changes as well. Digital printing is starting to create a paradigm shift in how books are produced, said Andy Fetherman, manager of on-demand solutions for Muller Martini. “It started with the need to produce old books from a back list,” he noted, “but now digital printing has moved into mainstream book production. We’re seeing a shift from offset printing book production to digital because of the increased speed and quality of digital printing systems.”
Responding to this growth, Muller Martini put its research and development teams to the task of providing high-quality inline bindery solutions to digital print systems, in which the book could be finished without anyone touching it. The outcome? Muller Martini’s SigmaLine digital book-making production. “We launched SigmaLine conservatively, and have 30 systems around the world,” said Fetherman. “We’ll be launching it in the U.S. at Print 09 later this year.”
SigmaLine is a modular system that produces high-quality, digitally printed books, and offers short lead times—from short to medium runs, or books-on-demand. It networks digital printing and finishing in one complete system, allowing fully automated production in one operation, from the roll to the completed book. This consistent integration of all component processes enables short runs to be produced extremely quickly and economically.
Digital book production remains a particularly fast-growing segment served by Standard Finishing Systems as well. “Standard anticipates continued migration of analog book production to digital, as cost-per-image drops and image quality improves further,” said Mark Hunt, Standard’s director of marketing. “The run-length tipping point line between analog and digital shifts in favor of digital every year and perfectly acceptable color has arrived for critical application categories such as textbooks. We see continued strong growth and demand in digital book production, and believe our intelligently automated perfect binding lines are well positioned to help printers make this transition profitably.”