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COPY CONCEPTS -- Going Near-line

September 2002

Creating an in-house bindery and new profit center seemed like a good strategic plan. However, the shop's first investments in bookletmaking and perfect binding didn't live up to its high standards of productivity, reliability and service.

"With the Xerox DocuTechs, we knew we had the best-engineered digital printers in the business," says Stone. "What we lacked, after making some trial-and-error investments, was equally reliable equipment to finish the job."

To determine what key new investments were needed, Copy Concepts considered the "mission critical" nature of many of their customers, including accounts in healthcare, aviation, high technology and publishing.

"In these industries, business needs and specs change quickly," adds Stone, "and the pressure is on to produce material on time, within budget and error-free."

Facing "make or break decisions," Copy Concepts sought guidance from its local graphic arts equipment dealer, Bindery Systems in Dallas. It became clear that the shop's next generation of postpress equipment would have to feature high reliability, quick setup and changeover, maximum set integrity, minimum waste and ease of operation.

The next question was whether Copy Concepts would opt for an in-line or off-line route to the finish line.

"We needed maximum productivity and flexibility," notes Stone, "and we didn't want to tie any one printer to one finishing system. We believed the answer was to set up the proper workflow, with easy-to-operate saddlestitchers and perfect binders in close proximity to the print engines. We also recognized the importance of quality pre- and post-paper handling systems that would allow us to deliver the imaged documents from the printers in ready-to-finish form. In short, we knew we were 'on the line' for our customers, and we determined that the 'near-line' approach was the best choice."

For the industry's most advanced finishing-on-demand solutions, Terry Sinderson and Pat Mallams, both of Bindery Systems, advised Copy Concepts to hook up with Standard Finishing Systems, the supplier of Horizon and Hunkeler equipment.

The shop's first major purchase was the Standard Horizon SpeedVAC 100 system, consisting of two collating towers connected to a Standard Horizon SPF/FC-20 stitcher/folder/trimmer and ST-40 stacker. According to Shirley, the automated suction-feed SpeedVAC, producing more than 4,000 booklets per hour, has lived up to its reputation. Applications include software manuals and benefits brochures of 80 pages or less; typical run lengths are 100 to 2,500.

In addition to saddle stitching, the shop had a growing need for high-end perfect binding, especially to support its book manufacturing customers. Copy Concepts purchased two Standard Horizon BQ-340 perfect binders, one of which was originally in-line with a DocuTech.

"Our customers expect a clean, professional look, and that starts with a consistently square spine," contends Stone. He reports that the perfect binders have drastically slashed the shop's waste and have helped customers virtually eliminate obsolescence.

With business volume increasing, Copy Concepts decided to upgrade its perfect binding by purchasing a four-clamp Standard Horizon BQ-460, which it uses for longer run lengths. The shop then decided to expand the BQ-460 into a complete perfect binding and trimming system by adding a Standard Horizon HT-70 three-knife trimmer and SL-40 cooling conveyor.

"We discovered the hard way that manual, off-line trimming was a time-consuming, tedious process," says Shirley. "The BQ-460/HT-70 combination produces consistently high quality, and the books exit the system ready to box and ship. Also, with four clamps, we have much higher production capacity. Our first job was a clean run of 7,000, and we've been cranking virtually around the clock since then."

Added Finishing Capacity

In addition to Xerox and Horizon, Copy Concepts has put its faith in two other suppliers to round out its bindery—Océ (for continuous-feed printing) and Hunkeler (distributed by Standard). Recently, Copy Concepts purchased an Océ DemandStream 8090 twin digital print engine equipped with Standard Hunkeler UW4 unwinder, WB4 web buffer and CS4 wide cutter/stacker.

On the front end, the Standard Hunkeler UW-4 unwinder at Copy Concepts unwinds the paper roll and feeds it into the continuous feed, pinless Océ printer. On the back end, the CS4 wide rotary cutter and stacker deliver three-up stacks for off-line perfect binding.

As with the Horizon equipment, Hunkeler is known for quick and easy changeovers, taking just a few seconds to reconfigure the job for maximum uptime. In addition, Stone says that the near-perfect offset stack quality exiting the cutter is an asset for fast, near-line finishing.

The bottom line? Since making these major postpress investments, business at Copy Concepts has tripled. Recently, Copy Concepts took another leap into the future by merging with PlanetPrint, a national Internet business services provider led by Keith Nickoloff. "We can now help customers manage every step of their document's lifecycle, from creation to delivery to electronic archival," concludes Shirley.
 

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