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Digital Directory
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SEPTEMBER 2013



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POSTPRESS -
Selling Opportunities for Dealers

In the printing industry today, the tail does wag the dog.

The tail in this case are postpress products that have become a growing focus of interest to everyone that prints especially in the digital and hybrid world. Having a wide selection of bindery, finishing and mailing equipment should be part of every graphic arts dealer's product lines.

Usually pieces of postpress equipment have a long life in the print shop but today there have been changes in technology that are changing the interest of users/customers in finding replacements for some specialty markets like book manufacturing and products requiring die cutting. The direction the postpress manufacturers are taking is to add more automation to their machines using computer consoles and JDF connectivity (for automatic make ready settings) along with higher throughput speeds by reducing mis-feeds and errors during the production cycle.

The other driving force for change in postpress equipment is the desire to reduce operating costs following the principles of "Lean Manufacturing". Postpress expert Don Piontek (finishingres@comcast.net) in a recent Printing Impressions (www.piworld.com) article pointed out that the "lean" philosophy is addressed in most prepress and pressrooms, but is missing in short-run book binderies.

Piontek wrote, "Horizon (manufacturer) has mounted an effective response to this problem, developing a steady stream of innovative, increasingly automated binding and trimming solutions. But, customers who want to take full advantage of high-speed roll-fed or cut-sheet digital presses for production of short-run softcover book manufacturing have found that complementary binding solutions remain labor-intensive...until now."

Piontek continued, "Standard Finishing Systems, together with partners Horizon and Hunkeler, will unveil a new Smart Binding System that drives labor cost out of the equation by producing variable format books of different thickness within a continuous-feed or cut-sheet print stream, with fully automated changeovers and minimal touch points. The space-efficient platform is comprised of several new Horizon finishing technologies that have been uniquely combined with existing, proven modules. Workflow plays a critical role too, taking postpress finishing requirements into account during job planning and imposition to insure smooth production. Intelligent readers mounted throughout the system also monitor and control the finishing process in real-time, contributing to overall efficiency, flexibility and top-quality results."Dealer Communicator (DC) sees this new finishing system concept as a precursor to other innovative ways to improve productivity and reduce labor costs in the bindery. Dealers who are currently selling postpress equipment especially Standard products need to get up to speed on how the finishing system comes together and what is needed to offer this technology to their customers.

Piontek also pointed out several other innovative or updated finishing products that emphasize the "lean" manufacturing objectives by reducing operating costs. One area of interest is in diecutting equipment. We have seen laser cutters used for wide format products for a number of years. It turns out that there is a growing need for flexible die-less cutters to handle a myriad of short/medium run products ranging from consumer packaging, industrial products (labels, tags), envelopes and others all of which require a short turnaround time and lower costs.

Piontek also pointed out several other innovative or updated finishing products that emphasize the "lean" manufacturing objectives by reducing operating costs. One area of interest is in diecutting equipment. We have seen laser cutters used for wide format products for a number of years. It turns out that there is a growing need for flexible die-less cutters to handle a myriad of short/medium run products ranging from consumer packaging, industrial products (labels, tags), envelopes and others all of which require a short turnaround time and lower costs.

Don Piontek discussed two new machines from that were introduced at Print 13: Rollem with their new Delta short- and medium-run diecutter, and MBO America with the Bograma BSR 550 servo-driven magnetic cylinder machine. He said, "The Delta features flexibility at a reasonable acquisition cost, while the BSR 550 features high-precision, high-quality fast throughput and make-ready via extensive use of servos. MBO has already sold more than 12 of these units, and they can run inline with a folder or other device."

Driven by the increased interest in digital printing especially high-speed inkjet presses, some innovative devices were recently introduced. One of these is MBO America's (http://mboamerica.com/) new "dynamic" folder. Piontek describes the machine: "The folder can read a barcode on the sheet coming from the cutter and produce either an eight-page, or 12-page signature. This is a big deal because it permits the building of variable page-count booklets in four-page increments at web speeds of up to 650 feet-per-minute. Four-page increments mean less "padding" of the booklet with blank pages, and less paper waste."

New products always inspire similar solutions from other manufacturers from the USA and internationally. For example, Pitney Bowes partnered with HP a few years ago to create an integrated print and mailing system. At the 2013 Print show, Bell and Howell will show a myriad of approaches to integrating print and mailing solutions. Likewise, in the wide format finishing arena If you are doing wide format, GBC's cold press sensitive Laminator Spire 11 which is 54" wide may help to enhance the print results. If a dealer is working with a different laminating manufacturer check with them and see if they have a cold press solution as well.

The few product examples discussed by Piontek are good examples of changing postpress technologies some of which are needed changes to improve productivity and reduce costs for digital printing. Dealers need to be aware of these changes in order to find sales in postpress equipment opportunities for their digital printing customers. We are also becoming a hybrid printing world combining offset and flexo printing with digital printing both inline to traditional presses and as separate digital printing presses.

In a recent article by Bill Lamparter of the Printcom Consulting Group (printcom@aol.com) he writes about "Postpress - The Overlooked Opportunity". Lamparter's comments point out the potential of smart buying of postpress equipment. He says, "Integrated with the press, postpress operations are as important as the digital press. Many printers prefer nearline or offline postpress operations because the approach utilizes existing equipment. But inline with the press is more cost effective and produces the final product faster. If capital investment considerations result in initially going offline, find out if inline finishing can be added later and at what cost."

Lamparter's comments are a reminder to dealers that their customers often do nothing with regards to updating their postpress equipment. A proactive dealer can help their customers by helping in determining the cost effectiveness of an equipment upgrade. An intelligent audit of a customer's binders, especially those using digital equipment can identify many areas that can use a modernization.

Where all the attention in recent times has been in prepress and press technologies, it is now the time for the "tail end" of the printing business - postpress to gain the needed attention. It is an opportunity for graphic arts dealers to act upon. DC

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