Just-In-Time Finishing — Finishing Touches
Like many aspects of the printing industry—and any business for that matter—keeping an eye on finances is paramount. Edwards Brothers, located in Ann Arbor, MI, has been in the book printing business since 1893 and made the digital conversion in 1997. Lee Mohr, digital book center manager, reports that the switch made the company reassess how it does business.
"You've got to run a real tight ship because it's very costly to do," Mohr admits. "It's hard to make money at it because the prices of digital impressions are so high—with all the click charges and metering charges from the print engine suppliers. The technology costs are a lot to overcome."
While Edwards Brothers purchased new machines such as a Muller Martini Amigo perfect binder and a flatbed cutter when it decided to enter the print-on-demand book market, it used some ingenuity and resourcefulness when acquiring the rest of its equipment.
"Basically when we started our digital book center, the cost of case binding equipment was very high, so we put together a system that would work well with short-run quantities," Mohr recalls, adding the company purchased an old casing-in machine.
Edwards Brothers does its digital finishing work off-line because, according to Mohr, its print engines cannot print fast enough to keep up with the finishing equipment. The firm runs three printing shifts a day, but only one finishing shift, and typically does runs from 25 to 500 pieces.
Eventually, the company plans to switch, at least partially, to in-line finishing. "We're looking at ways to go from the printer to the binder, but we want the flexibility of it not actually being connected to the printer in case we want to do some special things to a job," Mohr comments. "So we're looking at cross-training our operators to run the print engines and the binding equipment."