Collators — Freedom of (Much) Choice
By Erik Cagle
A dozen manufacturers were asked to list the primary differentiators that set apart multiple brands of collating equipment. It may come as no surprise to learn that virtually no one mentioned the price factor.
It seems there are numerous attributes that factor into choosing a collator that is the right fit for a particular printer or trade finisher. The depth of choices on the market only underscores the importance of looking past the price tag, as there is a collator for every need.
Versatility is a key ingredient for serving the evolving needs of clients, according to Tony Cockerham of Buhrs Americas. Feeder varieties merit attention.
"One should pay great attention to the types of feed hoppers available and their ability to run the different types of product that may be required by the client," he says. "Is the product to be collated single sheets, multiple pages, stitched books, perfect-bound books? What are the thickness requirements? Is the orientation of the product fold or bound edge in the right or same orientation? Can the feed hoppers be changed or interchanged to accommodate? Can the system be controlled by a line controller for selective or intelligent collations customized for demographical collations? Do the feed hoppers have quality checks such as miss-feed or double-feed detection?"
The Buhrs 4000 platform is feeder interchangeable via rolling feed hoppers from one position to the other, providing flexibility in accommodating customer requirements. The system accommodates various hoppers, including rotary, shuttle and friction feeders.
Expandability and performance are critical factors in determining the right collator, according to Jay Katz, vice president and general manager for Prosystem USA.
"The customer should be able to add modular, in-line finishing devices such as bookletmakers, high-pile stackers or batcher/stackers as their business grows," Katz points out. "The collator should be able to perform the work it was purchased for consistently, without errors, at or near the top mechanical speed. The higher the net speed, the more production and income a machine will generate."