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GE07: Binding and Finishing — Quest for Automation

October 2007 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
THE ROLLER coaster twisted from one side of the Muller Martini booth to the other, an improbably long snake piercing the air in an exhibition hall mostly filled with floor-dwelling equipment. This machine was certainly no bottom feeder—more specifically, it was a top feeder, the Topveyor 365 overhead conveyor.

At times an overhead conveyor was needed to circumvent the crowds choking the aisles during Graph Expo 2007 in Chicago. But the patron flow was volatile, and there were periods where one could walk down some of the back aisles of the McCormick Place South Hall without bumping into a poster-toting gawker. . .of which there were plenty.

There are two sets of attendees at Graph Expo. The first type has done his/her homework, knows all the primary players for a given product, has whittled down the choices to a short list, and is at the show to see the machines in action. This person is on a mission.

The second type has been to all the booths offering freebies, has three or four posters, two flash drives, one guitar and assorted other tchotchkes. For him, this show is a two-day reprieve from work. He left the floor at noon on Sunday to catch part of the Packers game, then spent an hour at the 4Over booth playing the card game “guts.” This tire kicker doesn’t really have an agenda.

“You can tell the ones who aren’t really buying anything,” one booth jockey said. “The first question out of their mouth is, ‘How much does it cost?’ ”

An educated shopper, or a potential buyer seeking more information, is the best friend of the booth holder. Those who crave knowledge want to learn about gaining efficiencies, cutting makeready and turnaround times, perhaps reduce manpower or find gear that is simple enough for the recent high school grads to handle. And the bindery/finishing department is that area most in need of automation—that part of the workflow where many companies are using older equipment.

Pleasant Surprise

Werner Naegeli, president and CEO of Muller Martini, pointed out that his company generated a good deal of business during the 2006 edition, with a nice two to three month hangover. On the third day of the show, Naegeli reported that 2007 appointments were double those of last year.

“Many of the customers I’ve talked to said they were very busy work-wise,” he said. “Someone from RR Donnelley noted that they were getting work that usually doesn’t come in this time of year.”
 

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