Lightning Source — Electrified Book Production
HP Indigo 1000s are currently printing color covers in the UK plant, and color book printing capabilities are planned for the UK in the near future. Currently, the U.S. facility handles those color orders.
Bindery operations are all near-line. “With our 12-hour window to move product from printer and cover printer to binder and out to trimming and shipping, we can’t afford to allow any one piece of equipment to shut down any other piece of equipment,” according to Marshall. He says they use barcodes on totes to move the book blocks among processes. Much of the bindery equipment, including its Duplo binders and Horauf three-knife trimmers, has been substantially modified by Lightning Source’s engineers and combined with extensive program logic control interfaces by the company’s IT department.
In addition, crucial homegrown MIS systems automate the shop. “We’re printing 40,000 books a day, so you do the math as to how many orders that could be. The system has to catch the orders, classify them, sort them, control output to the presses, and bring it all back together and ship to the right customer—mostly in 12 hours,” he points out. “There’s nothing in the marketplace that I’m aware of that can turn you into a one-off printer. It makes no difference to us if all 40,000 books are single orders.”
Production systems in the UK facility mirror those in the U.S., as do the business benefits of a print-on-demand workflow. David Taylor, senior vice president of global sales for Lightning Source and managing director of Lightning Source UK, adds that the United Kingdom made sense for the company’s first overseas location because a number of British publishers—such as Cambridge University Press, with whom Lightning was already working with in the U.S.—wanted to see the same model in their domestic market. “The core reason,” he says, “is that we were asked to do so by our customers. The market wanted us to print more titles…POD is the key driver. It’s attractive for publishers at a strategic level because they always get the print run wrong.”