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Floor-Model Folders -- A Fold in Time

February 2003
By Caroline Miller

In the era of earlier job deadlines, shorter runs, increased quality and more complex jobs, efficient postpress operations are imperative to a profitable printing business. All of the efficiencies and savings from state-of-the-art prepress and pressroom capabilities are lost if the finishing department is languishing in neglect.

Upgrading your floor-model folding machine is just one area of the bindery that can offer significant benefits.

By investing in a new folding machine a company benefits from new technology, ensuring much quicker job turnarounds, substantially reduced paper waste, the elimination of the need for high-priced, hard-to-find setup people, as well as a more precise, higher quality, folded product, reveals Stacey Porto, GBR Systems marketing supervisor.

The trends in today's floor-model machines are automation, quality and reliability, says Hartmut Sohn vice president of MBO America.

Today's floor-model folder customers are investing in new folders primarily to reap the benefits of increased automation, agrees Don Dubuque, Standard Horizon product manager at Standard Finishing Systems. "As run lengths decline, setup time becomes a larger percentage of total job time, which drives up the labor cost on jobs. Automation shortens job setup times, which translates into higher profits." He adds that automation also simplifies operation, so more operators can be easily cross-trained.

Less Expertise Needed

Today's new class of automated folders virtually eliminates the need for dedicated and highly skilled "folder specialists" to set up and run the equipment. For example, sheet format and fold patterns can be input on an LCD touchscreen, as opposed to being manually set, then instantly recalled from memory when the job reoccurs.

Finding qualified folder operators to run manual folders can be difficult," Porto contends. "With an automated folder, a typical learning curve can be as little as a single two-day training session. The settings on some folder manufacturers' products are now done via an operator panel that will guide the operator through the setup process."

This automation often replaces most, if not all, of the need for operator makeready and operating skills. "With complex folds, fine adjustments often have to be made, so the benefit of an automated folder where fine adjustments are made one increment at a time at the touch of a button is crucial in a bindery's productivity," she claims.

Quick Setup

The ultimate goal is zero makeready time. Hence today's computer-controlled folder now incorporates automated fold plates, fold roller gaps, alignment rails and delivery rollers. It also has programmable job functions where an operator can store a fold in memory and recall it at the touch of a button. This feature cuts make-ready and fold changeover times significantly, in particular for difficult folds such as gatefolds.


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