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.

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