The Book Factory
There have been all sorts of advances in bindery machinery over the past 10 years. Cutters, binders, bookletmakers, saddle stitchers and more, have implemented computer technology in an effort to make them more efficient at handling very small job runs with different finished formats. The goal has been to increase the actual output of each worker in the bindery, even though they're putting out "books-of-one."
But output can be increased by looking beyond the actual machinery to the movement of people and materials. Two entrepreneurs who reside in The Netherlands have done just that. Peter Sygall, a Hungarian-born mathematician, and Toon Karsten, a mechanical engineer, analyzed the flow of material from the printer to the finishing systems and came up with their Book Factory System.
The BFS (as it's known) is a mechanical and electrical system for the automatic movement of materials from print to finishing. Special "unloaders" are connected to each printer. These automatically unload a print job to a specially-designed carrier that accepts the work. These carriers circulate along a conveyor network. They can pick up a photo book block from a printer, then get the cover from another printer and deliver the matched components to the appropriate binder or finishing system.
So the unloading and transport of "work in progress" is done without labor input. Furthermore, the system ID's all components and ensures that cover and book blocks always match. The system is custom-designed for each customer's plant layout. The systems that have been installed have resulted in major overall output increases per worker vs. conventional print and finishing operations.
Fair disclosure: we recently signed an agreement with BFS to represent the company in the U.S. market. We think the BFS System can increase efficiency substantially.