COLLATING EQUIPMENT -- In the Pocket
BY CHRIS BAUER
Football season is upon us, and the focus of most teams is on the quarterback. Some quarterbacks are pocket passers like the Saint Louis Rams' Kurt Warner, while others like to get out of the pocket and make plays on-the-run, like the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb.
For the printing industry, talk of pockets brings us to the bindery—where new collating equipment can be the quarterback of the finishing department. Just like NFL-caliber players, collating equipment has to be tough, smart, reliable and flexible, equipment vendors say.
The same broad trends that are shaping the printing industry at large—shorter run lengths, faster turnaround requirements, and a shortage of skilled operators—are influencing the way collating equipment is being manufactured, says Don Dubuque, product manager for Standard Finishing Systems.
"Shorter run lengths mandate quick setups and changeovers, because setup time is amortized over the number of units in the run," Dubuque explains. "This is coupled with customers' expectations for faster turnarounds, which means printers need to produce more shorter-run jobs per day. That requires quick setups, ease of operation and reliable performance on a broad range of substrates."
These trends have led to the need for highly automated collating systems, he continues. "Automation is most effectively addressed through interactive, icon-based touchscreens that clearly and efficiently step the operator through all setups. This, in turn, leads to improved efficiency with quicker setup times and faster turnarounds, which is particularly important as run lengths decline. Automated, shortened job setup times translate into higher profits, more collator run-time, and the possibility to free up an operator to run another piece of equipment."
The latest collator offering from Standard Horizon is the SpeedVAC, which offers high levels of automation through an icon-based touchscreen for quick, simple changeovers. Easy and powerful programming enables dual-