New Folder Boosts Productivity at Butler University
One of the ground rules of going digital is understanding that when the printing process changes, the postpress workflow will have to change along with it. Conventional bindery systems aren’t ideally suited to the small formats, short-run volumes and rapid-fire job changeovers of digital production — a fact that Butler University’s in-plant, Campus Impressions, confronted when it ceased using offset press equipment three years ago.
With the half-size litho press out and digital presses in, “we didn’t need anything over 13x19˝ in size,” says Chris E. Davis, director of Print, Copy and Mail Services at Butler’s Indianapolis, Ind., campus. “Also, for us the days of right-angle folding are long gone.”
That type of work had been performed on an aging 17x22˝ unit that was complicated to set up, slow to switch from job to job and prone to waste — hardly the thing for keeping pace with the output from the in-plant’s Xerox Versant 80 digital color press and the Xerox D125 black-and-white digital press running alongside it.
Davis closed the postpress performance gap last January by purchasing a used Baum Flexifold modular folding system, a compact, easy-to-operate device that is much better attuned to the digital production environment that the in-plant has become. He informally estimates that the Flexifold is 30% to 35% more productive than the folder it replaced.
Davis and his six-member team are using it to speed the delivery of a full gamut of commercial and academic jobs ranging from letterhead and business cards to banners and wide-format printing. The average run length is 750 to 1,000 sheets, and the shop can handle anything up to 40,000 sheets in-house. Brochures and catalogs in runs up to 5,000 copies are within its internal capability as well.
The automated, self-setting Flexifold makes short work of these projects by being quick and simple to get into operation.
“Our old folder would take five to 20 minutes for setup depending on what the last completed project was,” reveals Davis. “The Flexifold takes about five to seven minutes depending on sheet size.”
Significantly Less Setup Waste
The device stores up to nine fold programs (six standard, three non-standard) that the operator can select using pictures on the display screen. After he or she keys in the dimensions, makes a few adjustments and folds some test sheets, the Flexifold is ready for the full run — with significantly less setup waste than the former equipment generated.
“We always figured 10% to 15% waste for setup on the old folder depending on size and stock,” Davis says. “With the Flexifold, we only figure 3% to 5%.”
Although Baum rates the Flexifold for 27,600 8.5x11˝ sheets per hour, the Butler in-plant normally operates it in the 7,000 to 10,000 sph range. It’s used primarily for single-sheet items like letters, but it sometimes supplements in-line folding and finishing on the digital presses by pre-creasing the stock. This step, Davis explains, helps to minimize toner cracking, potentially an issue with this type of digital printing.
The Flexifold’s operator friendliness matches its efficiency. Taking up just a fraction of the floor space the old folder occupied, the Flexifold is a quiet-running device that’s responsible, Davis says, for “a much softer production floor from a decibel standpoint.”
Because its enclosure conceals moving parts, it also “reduces the apprehension of someone who’s not comfortable with machinery,” Davis points out. This contrasts with the imposing mechanical presence of the old folder which, he confesses, some members of the staff “used to steer clear of.”
The Flexifold has improved the in-plant’s productivity, Davis reports.
“In the past, if a customer wanted a short-run letter fold, it may have taken a day or more depending on what the folder was set up for,” he says. “Now we can easily and quickly touch a button, change the fold type and knock out the job.”
Davis recalls that this made all the difference when the provost’s office called early one morning with an emergency request for 3,000 letters to be printed and folded by 10 a.m. — a job the Flexifold enabled the in-plant to deliver as promised.
“If we’re meeting or beating our deadlines, we’re accomplishing our goals,” Davis declares. “And, due to the ease of operation, all my staff can operate the folder and don’t feel intimidated, so they are more valuable to the department.”
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