Bindery Automation — Operator Friendly
"In the past, there was just one standard packer available for a folder. Now, manufacturers are coming out with specialty packers configured to handle different work," Walecha says. His company is a trade binder that offers basic services such as cutting, folding, stitching and perfect binding, as well as some specialty work. Located in Broadview, IL, the 150-employee shop handles runs from 500 to 1,000 pieces on the low end up to multimillion-sheet runs.
Equally impressive advances have been made in cutting operations, the execs report.
"All of the equipment we are operating with today has some form of computerized or electronic controls," Rickard says. "Even our old cutters from the 1950s now have black boxes on them. These retrofitted computers control the backgauge. We just program in the cuts, and setup takes minutes instead of half an hour or up to a couple hours for some complicated jobs. Our cutting accuracy and consistency has improved, too."
There are material-handling benefits to be gained in the cutting area, as well, notes Gary Markovits, president of E&M Bindery in Clifton, NJ. The company's primary services include mechanical binding, perfect binding, folding and tabbing.
Speeding to the Finish
"We installed a Polar cutter with the Transomat system from Heidelberg USA," Markovits explains. "The system automatically palletizes items being cut. It keeps products rotated correctly and automatically rejects bad pieces. Adding this equipment has sped up our cutting operations by 30 to 40 percent."
While Olympic Bindery has yet to make the leap, Walecha is particularly intrigued with the automatic counting features of material handling systems for cutters. The traditional, manual counting method of stabbing tabs into piles is not very accurate, he says, especially with thinner papers. Counts can be off by as much as 5 to 10 percent.
"The paper handling systems have scales and accurately calculate counts based on weight," Walecha points out. "However, since we have nine paper cutters, upgrading would require a big investment." He says he doesn't want to get into a situation where only a couple of the shop's machines have been upgraded and the rest of the operators are left to struggle along the old-fashioned way.