Digital Finishing — Where to Draw the Line?
LaVigne so far hasn’t been a big proponent of in-line finishing capabilities, the company’s president says. This is more a function of the variety of pieces produced.
“If we had a single big client or multiple clients with similar, repetitive finishing needs, then in-line (capabilities) would be more attractive. In a multiple press environment, we also don’t want to be in the position of having a press go down and lose a finishing line along with it,” he explains.
Close, But Not Too Close
Wells believes near-line capabilities are the best fit for LaVigne’s current digital work for a couple of reasons.
• Flexibility, compared to having in-line finishing capabilities tied to specific press production; and
• Implementation of the Lean Six Sigma Initiative, since transportation time from a digital pressroom to a separate finishing department on a run of 10 12-page brochures can mean the difference between making money and losing money.
Even though LaVigne has embraced outsourcing as a business philosophy—to the point of having a full-time employee devoted to print management and strategic sourcing—it has found that outsourcing in a digital production environment presents many challenges, reports Wells. “The transit costs and time constraints typically make it prohibitive to outsource.”
So does that mean the perspective of a trade binder is irrelevant? Not necessarily.
Since the PRIMIR findings are based on a sampling of the market as a whole, the above trends in digital finishing are not as representative of what’s happening in specialty segments such as digital, on-demand books. In-line finishing has been a much bigger focus of this market segment, with a number of vendors developing specialty finishing lines.
Fred Daubert is president of Book1One in Rochester, NY, which caters to printers and publishers that need digitally produced books. As a division of traditional trade binder The Riverside Group, it produces hard and soft cover books in short runs—without having its own digital press.