At Berryville Graphics, a Milestone in Book Printing
The installation marks an industry first, according to Berryville Graphics President Wayne Taylor, who claims his company is the only book manufacturer using the technology.
"Everyone has a robot programmed with specific moves," he says. "But no one else has a physical arm that handles stacks of books without dropping or marking them. That's what makes us unique."
Taylor says the robotic arm has a custom-designed clamping mechanism, which took Berryville engineers 18 months to develop.
"An equipment manufacturer gives you the basic tool, but to get a specific result, you've got to tweak the machine to do what you want," Taylor contends. "With our in-line system, we're able to electrically and mechanically engineer the 'links' between process centers so books are transferred from one machine to another smoothly and efficiently."
With special diverts integrated throughout the system, the accumulators collect the diverted books and refeed them back into the system to keep it continuously running.
"If the binder goes down, the accumulator refeeds the backload into the trimmer," explains Barry Hockenberry, Berryman's director of manufacturing services. "Conversely, if the trimmer goes down, the binder continues to run and accumulate books. The accumulator becomes a buffer area to ensure maximum productivity."
Furthermore, Hockenberry says if Berryville didn't have this buffer in its linked on-line system, the 90-percent efficiency the company is running at now would go down to about 60 percent.
"We're skilled in the disciplines of printing, and that allows us to do the things we dream up," says Taylor. "As with most great inventions, people consider them wacky until they're proven. Such is the case with our three linked in-line systems, the first of which was installed in 1993. A linked in-line bindery operation was just a concept until we proved it to be reality.
"At Berryville, we take an unconventional approach to book manufacturing," continues Taylor. "And that can be challenging in an industry where processes have been done basically the same way for 150 years. By coming up with new innovations, we're trying to convince the industry there's a better way of doing things."