More than ever, printers are focused on finding ways to attract new customers and maximize the business they get from existing customers. Despite all the talk about QR codes and marketing services, one of the most important weapons in your arsenal is still one of the most basic: your finishing department.
Everyone is working their way back from the recession. Your customers need to stand out from the crowd and maintain brand awareness with their own customers. Provide an attractive and creative finish that makes their marketing collateral pop, and you help them achieve their goal. In turn, you achieve your goal of building customer loyalty and bringing in more business. It’s a win/win formula.
State of the Art
Part of the reason finishing has moved into the spotlight is the advancement of the technology. There are many more automated or semi-automated options now; mitigating the labor intensive work that was once the hallmark of postpress operations. This has been driven primarily by the trend toward significantly shorter runs, as several manufacturer representatives observed.
“The transformation in finishing has mirrored changes in the larger print market,” explains David Reny, executive vice president, Standard Finishing Systems. “As digital printing takes hold in more segments, nearly all suppliers have responded with complementary finishing solutions. Shorter run lengths in conventional offset have also sparked new developments that help customers finish efficiently and effectively. In general, heavy iron, manual setup bindery equipment is giving way to a new breed of highly automated finishing equipment that is equally durable, but better suited to shorter run lengths through advanced digital control.”
“The increased shifts towards shorter run lengths, quicker turnaround times, and a lower experience level operator have guided manufacturers to alter their development strategies,” adds Alex Esnaola, director of sales, Graphic Whizard. “Equipment today has the advantage of being much simpler to operate while reducing make-ready times.”
Susan Corwin, marketing manager for Rollem International concurs. “With the dramatic growth of digital presses, finishing solutions have adapted to smaller formats, new types of paper, and the ability to handle output challenges, such as compensating for shifting images and scoring stocks with no fiber cracking,” she says. “Customers are requiring shorter runs and faster turnaround times, so the speed of the equipment is important, but combining multiple functions and offering in-line and near-line solutions is the real game changer.”
Si Nguyen, who heads National Business Development for Duplo USA, observes: “Finishing equipment has become increasingly multi-functional over the years as print service providers look for more cost effective methods to complete their production processes all in one pass. What is interesting is that printer manufacturers are also offering in-line finishing with multifunction processes and are now offering what used to only be available on their higher production presses on their mid- to low-end print solutions as well. Everyone is looking to do more with less.”
David Spiel of Spiel Associates points out, “Most of the requests we get are for machines to handle runs of 50, 100, and 1,000. This requires machinery that changes over quickly and machinery that does not produce any waste. Manufacturers are increasingly pressured to produce short-run machines that require no tools and that are as foolproof as possible.”
The economy also factors into the equation. “I think the market has demanded machinery that is simple, automated, and of a low capital investment,” notes John Jacobson, Jr., president, On Demand Machinery (ODM). “I see a migration towards automated machinery to help eliminate the human element of the binding process. As markets become more competitive, this is becoming a mandatory step for U.S. companies in order to stay competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.”