Digital Finishing : Taking Their Output Off-lineFebruary 2011 By Erik Cagle
The variability of work is the wild card element when it comes to finishing in-line, off-line or near-line in a digital printing environment. More and more, it seems some in the printing community are leaning toward off-line finishing, which could be a long-term trend as opposed to fashion du jour.
As printers become more specialized, it makes the in-/near-/off-line decision making process clearer. Turnover times and run lengths continue to shorten, but the need for quality hasn't been compromised, prompting many printers to take their finishing functions off-line.
One printer with a focused specialization is Arvato Digital Services, with a division that specializes in supply chain management for the healthcare industry, especially pre- and post-enrollment materials, which are saddlestitched or perfect bound and combined with various other printed collateral.
"Our page counts fluctuate dramatically from piece to piece," notes Todd Potrykus, director of print-on-demand for Arvato Digital Services. "We take care of a lot of the production management by systematically setting them up for gang runs based on similar page counts. We have to make sure, from our saddlestitching needs, to our perfect binding needs, that the equipment we have is able to change quickly or change on-the-fly to handle the variable page counts."
Among Arvato's finishing gear are three Standard Horizon StitchLiner 5500 stitchers, a Standard BQ-270C perfect binder and a BQ-470 perfect binder. The company recently acquired a Muller Martini Sigma perfect binder, which is actually a near-line machine. Their commonality—the ability to bounce back and forth from page counts of 100 to 300 to 250, wherever the customer need takes Arvato.
"A big advantage of (the Sigma binder) was the ability to change on-the-fly," Potrykus says.
On the digital printing end, Arvato Digital relies on four Océ continuous-feed machines—three VarioStream 7650s and a DemandStream 8090—along with two cut-sheet Océ 6250s.
Arvato's is extremely thankful for the level of technology now available on the finishing end, as there was a period where the company relied on a different stitching platform that was "quite painful," according to Potrykus. It had trouble processing the daily output of 60,000 to 70,000 personalized books with varying page counts.
Can't Afford High Waste
"When we went to the Stitch- Liner, our waste numbers decreased dramatically," he notes. "Every book is very unique, so we're not in a position where we can run overs because they're all personalized to the end user."