Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Japs-Olson of Minneapolis—a printer that can trace its roots all the way back to 1907! Japs-Olson embodies the lean manufacturing approach to today's direct mail. What I saw was a "holistic" integrated process. Japs-Olson is capable of sending more than four million pieces a day into the USPS mail stream. To do this efficiently, you need critical thinking to be applied at every stage of the process.
Contrary to some opinionators, direct mail is going strong. Internet ads can't compete with a well-designed, creative, physical mail piece. You might spend a microsecond on a Web ad, but a mail piece has "got you" for 30 seconds at a minimum. So today's mailers are high-tech and well-equipped to keep this medium going strong for many years to come.
Back in the day, the bindery (and finishing in general) was a fairly distinct environment, with some established processes and workflows that had not changed in many decades, (or longer!). This continued to be the case up until several years ago, when high-speed continuous inkjet presses began to take off.
Steve Johnson, founder and owner of Copresco, is a bit of a legend in the digital book business. Last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time with him at his facility in Carol Stream, Illinois.
The cost for producing a sewn book that's digitally printed, adds a considerable lift to the overall production price. Now there are certain markets, school yearbooks, some wedding albums, and higher-quality hardcovers which demand sewing. And in those one-off segments, price is not such an issue. But for other segments, it's a harder sell.
Many of us over 40 years of age marvel at the digital proficiency of the 20-somethings. We look at the millennials (and those younger) and their desire to be software engineers, programmers, entrepreneurs, video game developers. But, we wonder, who's going to run the saddle stitcher?
Bindery systems vendors are smart folks, and they know which way the wind is blowing at any given time. So, in a bid to keep cash flow robust, they've embarked on a campaign to offer extensive maintenance and upgrade services to their customer base.
Today, I would like to hear from YOU. Tell me your thoughts and concerns for your finishing operation, and I'll summarize them all for my follow-up column next week!
Digital printer vendors have something of a natural preference for running their presses in "print only" mode with nothing extra attached to potentially gum up the works. But the very nature of continuous inkjet (no plates, very short back-to-back runs) argues strongly for integrating finishing so that a complete product can come out the end with little labor involved.
We haven't seen the introduction of new perfect binders from major finishing vendors in some time. But the recent Hunkeler Innovationdays event proved to be the perfect venue to introduce some new technology. Both Muller Martini and Meccanotecnica showcased new perfect binders with new technology in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Printers, mailers, and binderies are always on the lookout for a new business opportunity. With the continued growth and format diversity in packaging and retail, one overlooked item may be gift and membership cards. There are over three BILLION gift and membership cards mailed out every year.
In this week's blog, Don Piontek discusses the special needs that the digital production environment places on manufacturers of traditional offset finishing systems. Many of these firms have "seen the light" in terms of digital's potential for better sales growth than their offset marketplace.
I spent a fair amount of my career in high-volume commercial print finishing. Sadly, the only two real multi-plant operations left standing are Quad/Graphics and RRD. In the "old days," runs were in the millions of copies and machines could run continuously for days.
It wasn't very long ago that the pundits were declaiming the death of the printed book. Yes, it wouldn't be long before the printed book was replaced by the soft glow of millions of e-book readers—illuminating bedroom walls as we read our e-book before hitting the sack. How wrong they were...
A serious part of my career in finishing was spent in the somewhat esoteric field of polywrapping systems. The "modern" polywrapper was developed in Italy in the 1970's, and due to a number of circumstances, became big business by the late 1980's and really big business in the 90's.
Quality standards have slipped a bit in book production, and customers are more concerned about the production cost of the product as opposed to whether it's perfect (or not). The Wohlenberg Quickbinder is entering a crowded and mature field, and it will be interesting to see whether such a feature-rich system can make its mark.
The work-in-progress workflow in commercial printing has evolved over decades and is now fairly well defined. On the digital side, things are still in a bit of a flux. High-volume digital printing (mainly inkjet) has expanded so rapidly that the finishing component has had to sprint to keep up.
The opportunity space that is out there in the industry right now cannot support as many individual manufacturers as there are. Like any other industry facing the same problems, it may be time for some of these vendors to consolidate.