Get Into The Fold
In an era of earlier job deadlines, shorter runs, increased quality and more complex jobs, efficient post-press operations are critical for a successful in-plant.
By Mike Llewellyn and Caroline Miller
SOLID FOLDING capabilities are critical to the success of an in-plant. That's what Mel Zischler believes.
As manager of Principal Financial Group Printing Services, Zischler oversaw the recent installation of a Challenge Machinery folder into his 33-employee in-plant in Des Moines, Iowa, where it will work side-by-side with a five-year-old Stahl folder.
"We had an application come through where we needed greater [paper-handling] capacity," explains Zischler.
While looking at folders, Zischler says he kept his eye out for a unit with easy job setup and rugged construction so the machine would be in the shop for the long haul.
Zischler's experiences with folders have taught him a few things.
"I'd recommend getting a vacuum feeder," he says, "because with a friction feeder you're always fighting with the wheels."
Zischler contends friction feeders have a greater tendency to pick up extra sheets, slowing down the finishing process as the in-plant's bindery operators work to correct the problem.
Folding machines are among the most popular pieces of in-plant equipment; they are installed in 97 percent of all shops, according to IPG research.
Some of those folders, though, have seen better days. Manufacturers say that investing in newer folding machines will bring updated technology into an in-plant to ensure much quicker job turnarounds, reduced paper waste, easier setup and more precise, higher-quality, folded products.
The Benefits Of Automation
Today's floor-model folder customers are investing in new folders primarily to reap the benefits of increased automation, says Don Dubuque, Standard Horizon product manager at Standard Finishing Systems.
"As run lengths decline, setup time becomes a larger percentage of total job time, which drives up the labor cost on jobs," he says. "Automation shortens job setup times, which translates into higher profits." He adds that automation also simplifies operation, so more operators can be cross-trained.