Phillips Printing Puts Heidelberg Folder Training to Good Use: Productivity Up 80 Percent

The Nashville-based Phillips Printing sought further training on its Stahl USA B26 continuous-feed buckle-plate folder after its operator fell ill and replacement personnel began experiencing problems with inconsistent feeding and folding.

According to Operations Manager John Hearn, “Heidelberg had been insisting all along that we could get a lot more out of the folder than we were getting. In the absence of our regular operator, we signed up for training with the aim of making sure we clearly understood the basic operation of the folder, as well as the roller settings and maintenance requirements, such that we then could focus on the details that really made a difference in being able to run the folder the way it was designed to run.”

Phillips personnel spent two days at Heidelberg’s North American Print & Packaging Technology Center (Technology Center) in Kennesaw, training first on a smaller, simpler-to-run Stahl Ti52 pile-fed folder, and later, a fully automated Stahlfolder TH 82 continuous-feed machine. The results were outstanding.

“We took a very difficult job with us to training,” Hearn said, describing the eight-page signature that split apart into two 11x17-inch sheets and then folded down to a letterfold. “Even Heidelberg demo personnel agreed that this was tricky. Nevertheless, we were able to run the job at 10,000/hr on the TH 82 in the demo room, and then at 15,000/hr, just to see what could be done. Back home, we’ve increased our run speeds from 6,200/hr on the USA B26 to 10,400/hr, and our productivity by 80 percent, simply by knowing what we’re doing. This is not only the fastest it has run by more than 3,000/hr, but it’s also the best the folded piece has ever looked, thanks to our newfound ability to skew the plates.”

The company also improved its scoring and folding speed from 12,000/hr to 21,300/hr, thanks to the action of jam sensors that automatically stop the folder when necessary. “What used to be a 30-45 minute fix takes two minutes instead,” Hearn concluded.

Phillips’ training experience proves that printing companies interested in increasing their efficiency—along with their profitability—stand to benefit greatly from optimizing their existing Heidelberg equipment.

“Being able to utilize the capabilities of the folder is the difference between fighting a job half the day or running it at half speed versus getting the highest production out of the machine,” Hearn explained. “Producing high-quality jobs fast is the only way to survive in today’s market. It’s great to finally know how to use all the tools and see how much they help when you know what to do with them. We’ve essentially shifted from working for the machine to letting the machine work for us.” 

Custom training promotes a higher level of confidence and brings operators or press crews up to speed on new or existing equipment. With 12 full-time trainers and the ability to conduct up to five training classes at a time, Heidelberg USA's Technology Center functions as a comprehensive practical training resource for printers that are preparing for a successful future.