Digital Finishing — Where to Draw the Line?
“About three years ago, we (as The Riverside Group) were turning digital book work away left and right,” Daubert recounts. “People would come in and want us to bind 100 books. I’d tell them, ‘You’ve got to send me 50 extra sets.’ They would respond, ‘We can’t give you that kind of spoilage on this work.’ In the digital book market, if you ask for an extra completed book block you’re talking $30 to $40 of added cost.
“We bought new zero-makeready equipment because our existing equipment, as a trade binder, was set up to do runs of 1,000 books or more with significant allowances for spoilage. It takes a whole different mindset to do digital work than it does longer runs,” the bindery exec asserts.
Book1One was set up as a specialized binding operation within the larger organization. Among the equipment brought in were a Standard Horizon BQ-270 perfect binder and Sticker casing-in equipment from On Demand Machinery. One surprise, Daubert says, was that the digital bindery was able to make use of old, manual equipment that was no longer competitive for other parts of the organization.
“With that equipment, each book is handled individually so there is no makeready. No automation means you don’t have to set up a bunch of different sections where you can lose product in makeready,” he explains.
The digital bindery has local printers (within 100 miles) with digital presses sending it already printed, collated sets to be converted into books. It also does book work for more remote printers, but in that case the printer typically sends a file that Book1One has output locally—even in cases where the customer has installed its own digital press.
“If longer distance transport is required, the generally smaller runs cannot absorb the freight to ship printed sheets. There is no freight in shipping digital data,” Daubert explains. “Being in Rochester, I bet there are 12 digital machines installed within a 15-mile radius of our plant. Output is close to a commodity now.”