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FLOOR-MODEL FOLDERS -- Upping the Ante

February 2002
BY MARK SMITH


When business conditions get tight, it's natural to think about just hunkering down and waiting for the market to turn around. It may hardly seem like the right time to make a significant investment in new equipment. However, doing just that can provide short- and long-term benefits.

Postpress operations are prime targets for performance improvement, since they traditionally have been labor-intensive and highly mechanical. Folding definitely falls into that category, so anteing up for a new floor-model folder with automation features can provide a big payoff, manufacturers say.

Potential benefits include lower operating costs, by enabling the use of less-skilled labor and reducing the demands on the operator, and improved performance, with faster production of higher quality folds.

As an added bonus, manufacturers typically are offering financial incentives on new purchases. The zero-down, zero-percent financing terms introduced by the auto industry probably are a bit much to expect, but this is a buyer's market.

"Printers and binders must keep ahead of their competition, especially in tough economic times," advises Stacey Porto, marketing supervisor at GBR Systems in Chester, CT. One way to do that is by embracing new technology, including automated folders, she says. Particularly when compared to manual folders, automated machines provide faster makereadies, quicker turnaround times and labor savings, while producing less waste, Porto explains.

GBR's Mathias Bäuerle SetMATIC folder offers fully automated, computer-controlled operation, she points out. To facilitate makeready, fold plates, alignment rails, delivery rollers and fold roller gaps are set via a central control panel.

These settings, along with parameters for fold speed, sheet gap, shingling of sheets, suction length, counting functions, double sheet detection and paper travel control, can be recalled by selecting one of the 60 custom-fold jobs stored in memory. This can reduce setup times by 90 percent or more, according to Porto.

Low Financing Available

In today's market, one of the best reasons to consider acquiring a new folder is the low financing rates available, which lead to smaller monthly payments and lower overall operating costs for the long-term, advises Mark Pellman, marketing manager at Baum in Sydney, OH.

"When you combine the lower monthly payments with the substantial increase in hourly productivity, lower maintenance costs and simplified operation, now is the time to consider replacing marginal folding equipment," he asserts.

Baum folders are gear driven and have combination rollers to produce consistent, tight folds, while their sealed ball bearings provide long, maintenance-free performance, according to Pellman. Newer models offer user-friendly operation with a "Learning Mode" setup function and patented "double blow bar" for the feeders, he adds. In combination with the latter, a non-contact pile height sensor improves sheet feeding, which is important because changes in the paper stocks used and printing done on a sheet are creating more curls that must be overcome in feeding at the folder, the company rep contends.
 

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