Floor-Model Folders — Upping the Ante
The Lower Run Effect
Another industry trend impacting all stages in the printing process is the decline in run lengths, says Don Dubuque, product manager for Standard Finishing Systems in Andover, MA. As this happens, setup time becomes a larger percentage of total job time. Automation features on folders can shorten job setup times, which translates into increased folder run-time and higher profits. As run lengths decrease, he adds, fold quality becomes even more critical since there is less tolerance for waste.
The current class of folders all but eliminate the need for a dedicated and highly skilled "folder specialist" to set up and run the equipment, according to Dubuque.
The Standard Horizon AFC-504AKT folder line, for example, offers advanced setup automation features controlled through a user-friendly LCD touchscreen, he notes. Up to 50 different job settings can be stored in memory, which reportedly enables setup to be accomplished in as little as 15 seconds. The feeding section combines a rotary vacuum feeder with a suction head for efficient feeding of a wide range of stocks.
During good or poor economic times, there are only two justifications for investing in new equipment—to increase capacity or improve productivity, asserts Ralph Johnson, president of LDR International in Portland, OR. Companies with multiple, computer-assisted folding machines have the possibility of achieving both of these goals, he says.
Individually, modern folders allow operators to achieve makereadies in under 10 minutes, even on complex work, and they will usually run the job at faster speeds, Johnson explains. In addition, jobs can be stored in memory for even faster makereadies on repeat orders. However, if a shop has multiple machines it also can gain an advantage by having a lead operator doing the makeready on two or three machines and then have lesser-skilled people tending the machines during the run.