by Katy Ibsen, managing editor, PostPress
This year during workshops at the FSEA•IADD Joint Conference, a series of breakout sessions welcomed attendees to discuss current, relevant challenges or trends seen within their own companies.
One such session touched specifically on the changing print environments that can affect the bindery. PostPress followed up with a few of the workshop attendees to learn more about these environments.
Here Matt Seidl, Seidl’s Bindery; David Inman, Trends Presentation Products; and Valerie Price, Coyne Graphic Finishing, share their thoughts.
1.) From our conversation at the conference workshop, several had mentioned that existing machines were being retrofitted or changed to handle new types of bindery/finishing work. Could you expand upon this and discuss some specific types of applications where this has applied?
Matt Seidl: Some of our equipment has become less than optimal with regard to production speeds, parts and service, and operator availability. We have chosen to repurpose them by either retrofitting a new feeder or gluing system, or in another case, we stripped down an old machine to the main belt drives and converted it into a movable conveyor section and offline collator. If you can’t justify maintaining it as it was manufactured – and the salvage value is less than adequate – then think outside the box and perhaps it can be put to good use in other ways.
Valerie Price: We retrofitted our eyelet machines to do metal corner protectors on tile boards. We also use our folder to do sheet counting for our hi-die.
2.) One area of the graphic arts industry that continues to grow is the packaging arena. There also was discussion during the workshop about opportunities in this area, whether with turned edge products or casebound work. Again, could you discuss where these opportunities are coming from and what you are doing to attract this type of work to your operation?
David Inman: Custom packaging is definitely an area that we see continual growth in, year after year. At Trends Presentation Products, we have focused on the high-end, turned edge packaging projects. We are not automated in this area, so all of our boxes are wrapped by hand. Our average run size on an order with our packaging projects typically runs under 3,000 pieces. The customers we deal with are looking for high quality, fast turn with a “wow” factor. We seem to do a lot in the liquor, pharmaceutical and financial sectors. Overall, I think it’s the quality of our work and having great CSRs (customer service reps) that keep the customer coming back. Communication is key. The customer has to be able to trust that the job will be done accurately. With packaging, the information surrounding a job has to move fast in order to meet those quick in-hands dates. It takes a team effort from beginning to end to make it happen. We have a good team here – which goes a long way!
Matt Seidl: We don’t do any turned edge or casebound products; however, we have been buying equipment over the last 10 years that caters to the packaging side of printing – laminating, in-house diemaking, traditional and digital hot foil stamping, and digital spot UV coating. With them, we have expanded our capabilities to produce many more boxes, cartons and POP (point of purchase) types of packaging work.
Valerie Price: Our second company, Diemaster LLC, has seen an extreme uptick this year in folding carton dies – they are rocking.
3.) The amount of digitally printed materials continue to increase, and the volume of more conventional offset work has decreased. What changes have been made in your bindery/loose leaf operation to adjust and react to these changes?
Matt Seidl: The most recent change was the purchase of the MGI Jet Varnish 3D Classic platform, which has allowed us to economically produce the smaller digital runs that require digital foil or spot UV and alleviate the issues with digital printing registration using the IA acquisition system. We also now have the ability to design digital foil and spot UV files in-house, as well as make immediate adjustments to customer files, all in a matter of minutes. That really makes our existing and new customers excited.
David Inman: Trends Presentation Products is a little unique in the fact that we have made digital print our priority going back to as early as 2000. Our Fast Impression line of ring binders allows our customers to have custom, high-quality, digitally printed ring binders in as little as three days at times. We print in house using a Xeikon digital press, allowing for wide format printing to fit most needs. The ability to print, laminate and then bind in one shop makes a huge difference toward lead times. Over time and with experience, we have structured ourselves internally to process these orders quickly. It’s been our niche for almost 20 years now.
Valerie Price: We noticed the biggest change in our mounting department. Adjustments have to be made to mount digital material successfully. The adjustments had to do with the thickness of the printed material and grain direction of the substrates (following internal research and development).
4.) It was mentioned that longer runs are still important to your operation, but customers are wanting even long-run jobs completed in less time. What adjustments have you made in your operation to help decrease lead times and increase production rates?
David Inman: Our biggest adjustment really came from accepting the fact that faster delivery times is the new norm. Trends Presentation Products has always worked hard for quick turn times, but in recent years those lead times have become shorter and shorter. We live in a “want it now” culture. So we have spent a lot of time trying to streamline various operations in house. This includes using check sheets through the prepress process to ensure art is set up properly and gets to the press as quick as possible. Communication between the front office and production also is critical. Changes are needed and occur routinely with jobs. Internally, we have set up a system that communicates those changes as they come out, limiting errors and minimizing additional costs to jobs. We also work flexible shifts as needed to adjust to the workflow. Obviously, the quality in craftsmanship still has to be there with each job, regardless of how fast the order is needed; as a company we have worked hard to keep our employees, too. This makes a big difference, and we have been very fortunate in retaining our employees. Another thing that doesn’t get talked about a lot is maintaining good relationships with our vendors. Oftentimes a portion of a job may involve work from another vendor. Getting prompt service and building trust with them can play a key role on whether a job makes it on time.
Valerie Price: Lead times, what are those? Nearly everything that we see – they wanted it yesterday. We often have to adjust scheduling on machines. This can create multiple set-ups and more cost for us. We like to have the complete project on our floor before we begin production. This is not always feasible, as customers at times want to “feed” the project to us as they are printing. This is mainly on jobs that are being sent elsewhere to be kit-packed – then they need some of everything.
Matt Seidl: The first thing was to ask our vendors what they need from us to expedite our turn times for receiving materials like dies, foil, film laminate, etc. The feedback we got on best ordering practices and proper channels was very helpful in getting our needs met from multiple vendors. Second, we make sure we accurately determine how much time is needed to complete a job upfront before it is received. Most often a good job pre-flighting the work and a little communication in advance really keep things moving on a reliable schedule.
Creative solution to meet customer’s needs
Perfecta USA developed an internal program to assist customers in doing more with less.
“In the bindery, our customers must do more with less every day. To help with these conditions Perfecta developed the optional S2C Programming for all new TS Paper cutters,” said Larry Hollingsworth. “The JDF job with a picture is given a barcode. The operator scans the barcode and, in under 30 seconds, the programmed job and picture comes up on the screen and the picture moves, rotates and gets smaller as the sheet is cut. The picture matches the sheet at all steps during the program, even with complicated gang jobs.”