Creating Energy Efficiency in the Bindery

by Melissa DeDonder, The Binding Edge
This harmonic ballast system is one of several items installed or upgraded to increase energy efficiency at Seidl’s Bindery.

When it comes to energy efficiency, suppliers and binderies often take different paths to arrive at the same conclusion. For suppliers, the newest technology provides a range of energy efficient features that can be a selling point for some industries. For an industry rooted in tradition, such as the binding and loose leaf industry, energy efficiency is not necessarily a top priority but is often the byproduct of adding or replacing equipment.

Shift to energy-efficient equipment inevitable

Wolfgang Ebinger, vice president of sales at bielomatik jagenberg, inc., said that energy efficiency is becoming an increasingly important topic when discussing new equipment or the modification of existing equipment in the binding and loose leaf industry. Steve Calov, postpress product manager at Heidelberg USA, Inc., echoed that sentiment and added, “In the postpress arena, customers haven’t pushed the energy button in total yet, but as utilities prices rise, we think that the demand for energy efficient equipment will increase.”

Matt Seidl, sales manager at Seidl’s Bindery, Inc., agrees that the move toward energy efficiency is inevitable, whether those changes are self-initiated or government regulated. “The movement isn’t going away, and you can’t stop what’s coming.” he said. “Our company is very interested in energy efficient equipment, as long as the speed or rate per hour of production does not suffer. It’s very similar to the gas vs. electric car argument,” Seidl said.

Another barrier for the binding and loose leaf industry in terms of energy efficiency is the initial cost of the equipment. “Cost is definitely a barrier for most of our customers,” Ebinger said. He encourages customers to look at the big picture and consider the cost of energy and maintenance for the older equipment vs. the higher availability of the new technology. “When considering all of these factors, it becomes clear that energy efficiency is an important component for staying competitive in today’s marketplace,” he said.

For the binding and loose leaf industry, the initial investment barrier often partners with a longer return on investment for energy efficient models. Calov shared the example of buying a conventional light bulb for $2 vs. an energy efficient light bulb for $20. “It boils down to one question: Do you save in the short term or invest for the long term? Customers who purchase energy efficient machines will gain energy efficiencies over time,” Calov said. Ebinger added, “Most companies would like to see an ROI of less than three years, which is a tough task for energy efficient investments.”

For Seidl’s Bindery, Inc., the investment is worth making. “We believe that you buy the best equipment to produce the work as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality,” Seidl said. “By shortening production time, we also are saving energy and overhead costs because we are not dragging out the manufacturing process with substandard or outdated equipment.”

Modernization to meet customers’ needs

In addition to creating energy efficiency, another byproduct of adding or replacing equipment is being more able to meet customers’ needs. “Our progressive customers view print production as a manufacturing process, and they’re constantly looking to squeeze out the last bit of efficiencies in the machines. Energy efficiency is a byproduct because the machines set-up faster and produce less waste, so a higher percentage of the operating time is used for the actual job production. Additionally, since the machines have distributed servo-motors, as opposed to older machines with bigger line shaft drives, only the essential parts of the machine needed to produce a job are running at any given time. Others come to us because they want to do something really unique – trying to add value from a creative standpoint, using finishing to improve market response,” said Dan Maurer, vice president of product management – digital print and postpress at Heidelberg USA, Inc.

Maurer said it can be hard for some bindery owners to see what trends are occurring in the industry when they’re focused on providing for existing needs in the bindery every day. “The industry is changing so rapidly that some binderies may not clearly see the challenges that their printers are facing. Web to print providers have the latest software and automated equipment to significantly reduce the production costs of jobs, bringing pricing pressure to the market.” Bringing in new equipment can offer opportunities, expanding services without necessarily requiring new skill sets. He said the latest technology takes a lot of the artwork out of creating this type of finishing. The machines do the work now, which means that an extensive skill set is less of a factor in creating this work. The technology allows commercial printers to bring binding and finishing equipment on-site, and the printers are making this investment.

“Although this may feel like a threat to binderies, there’s an opportunity here for binderies to be proactive and to put their destiny into their own hands,” Maurer said. From a marketing standpoint, binderies could go to their printer customers to ask about their needs and talk about unique partnership opportunities. Maurer said an example is wide format printing. “A lot of printers currently outsource wide format, and it would not be considered a threat to the printers because the binderies would not be buying a press. Here’s an opportunity for binderies to secure both short-term and long-term business while adapting to the new technology that is not going away,” he said.

Other efficiencies to consider

There are other options to consider that can create energy efficiency in the bindery. Heidelberg mentioned customers who are embracing new technologies such as solar power to generate electricity and reduce the cost of energy, and Seidl’s Bindery has made major facility upgrades in an effort to improve energy efficiency. “When it comes to making big purchases and structural improvements to the building, energy efficiency is our number one priority. Many times, it is the driving factor for upgrades,” said Seidl.

The following items were installed or upgraded to increase energy efficiency at Seidl’s Bindery: a white roof to help keep the building cool; a harmonic ballast system to prevent electrical spikes and power surges; the building was completely reinsulated; a new heating and cooling system complete with smart thermostats was installed throughout the building; low flow toilets were installed, as were air blower hand dryers; energy-efficient lighting was added throughout the building; improvements were made to the air-tight dock doors; and a new trash bailer and dust filtration system were installed.

Seidl said that all of these upgrades have helped the company achieve significant savings. “Once we committed to energy efficiency it opened our eyes to other possibilities that were unique to our facility. So, my advice is to find that first step to open the door for energy efficiency, and then other opportunities will become more feasible,” Seidl said.

Another key to Seidl’s Bindery’s energy-efficient success is employee empowerment. “We have created a culture where our greatest ability to save energy costs on a daily basis starts with our employees. We have empowered them to shut down lighting and equipment when not in use,” Seidl said.

Maintaining your investments

Regardless of whether energy efficiency comes in the form or equipment or facility upgrades, investments need to be maintained through regular and systematic care. For equipment investments, Heidelberg recommends a proactive maintenance approach – at least one maintenance visit per year, per piece of equipment. “By minimizing equipment failure and enabling the early detection of potential problems, preventive maintenance programs reduce waste, energy consumption and the use of consumables,” Calov said.

Seidl agrees that equipment maintenance is vital. After overhauling its heating and cooling systems throughout the building, Seidl’s Bindery discovered that it wasn’t achieving its energy saving goals due to poor air quality. Excessive dust in the air was clogging up the air filters and, as a result, the company was changing the filters every week. The company decided to completely change its bailer and dust filtration system in an effort to bring down the parts per million, which would allow the new system to work at high capacity. “In the end, we have vastly improved the air quality in the building while capturing a great energy cost savings as a direct result of these energy-efficient upgrades,” Seidl said.

While it may be a daunting task, Seidl also encourages companies to assess and evaluate their efficiencies on a regular basis. “One of our greatest challenges has been the evaluation component – figuring out how to monitor the changes, how to calculate the cost savings and how to improve upon efficiencies down the road.”

The Binding Edge would like to thank the following companies for contributing to this article:

bielomatik jagenberg, inc. in Windsor, CT, is a subsidiary of bielomatik Leuze GmbH + Co. KG, Neuffen, Germany. bielomatik jagenberg specializes in paper finishing, stationery manufacturing, print-finishing-on-demand and RFID. The company offers a variety of energy efficient solutions, including brake generators, water-cooled drive systems and upgrades to existing systems. For more information, call 860.640.0500 or visit

Heidelberg USA, Inc. in Kennesaw, GA, is a subsidiary of Germany’s Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. Heidelberg provides solutions and services for commercial and packaging printing worldwide. The company offers a variety of energy-efficient solutions for prepress and postpress, including automatic presetting options on postpress machines, automation devices and individual feeders driven by their own servomotors. For more information, call 888.472.9655 or visit

Seidl’s Bindery in Houston, TX, provides precision and expertise in a complete range of binding and finishing services, from PUR adhesive and mechanical binding to foil stamping and embossing. The company is committed to energy efficiency and continuously strives to operate at higher efficiencies while lowering operating costs. For more information, call 713.681.3815 or visit