Worzalla Uses Flexible Folding System to Manufacture Hard- and Soft-Cover Books
Worzalla is a state-of-the-art, full-service printing and binding facility in operation for more than 110 years. Located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the company’s 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is fully dedicated to the printing, production and fulfillment of various binding styles, for both hard-cover and soft-cover books.
The many different styles and categories of products produced — children’s, coffee table, religious, medical, directories — make Worzalla a versatile book manufacturing facility.
In fact, Worzalla is the printer of choice for many of the publishing industry’s most popular, award-winning books, including: the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series; “National Geographic Angry Birds;” “Every Thing On It,” by Shel Silverstein; “Polar Express;” “Where the Wild Things Are;” and many more.
Printers like Worzalla need a folding solution that can adapt to the ever-changing needs and demands to produce such high-quality jobs. MBO had addressed this very need with the development of the M80 Flexible Folding System—a modular folding system that can be modified, even after initial purchase.
The M80 solution is the first of its kind. This highly adaptable machine grows with the shifting needs and pace of individual printing operations. The M80 doesn’t change the way printers fold paper; the technology changes the way that printers are investing in folding equipment.
In the traditional finishing purchasing process, printers were required to construct a fixed, customized finishing solution, with the capabilities and features for the work coming in at that moment in time. They could only hope that these finishing configurations would fulfill their customers’ needs in the future, as well.
A traditional folding machine is customized at the point of sale, with construction 100 percent fixed after the initial purchase. Being locked in, customers cannot go back to the manufacturer and request new features, as the machines were built to specifications and incapable of modification.
Built on a modular platform, the MBO M80 Flexible Folding System provides printers with a base module, so that they can build the folding unit to suit their needs now, with the freedom to upgrade, or install “add-on” components, as they expand into new markets.
Jamie Kemnitz, Worzalla finishing manager, has been with the company for 19 years. He notes that Worzalla has been using MBO folders for at least as long as he’s been there, and reports that the company has been very satisfied with its MBO equipment.
Given the volume of book production being done in the large facility, Worzalla was researching the latest and greatest folder in which to invest, to continue its growth. “We were really comfortable going with MBO and its M80 technology, from both a familiarity standpoint and output standpoint,” says Kemnitz. “We went to MBO headquarters and saw the M80 in action, and we were very impressed with the demonstration and how the machine ran.”
The M80 was, in a way, an “upgrade” for the team because it had just installed a new Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 offset press, which Kemnitz says is capable of outputting 18,000 sheets/hr. on both sides, in one pass. The team needed to increase horsepower in the folding area to keep up with the output of the new press. Kemnitz reports that the M80 has kept up great and eliminated the need to work the seventh day, for the most part.
“The MBO M80 has been running nonstop since we installed it,” he says. “We run three shifts, typically six days a week, and production is so much faster. Our team traditionally folded large-format sheets, and now are running more 40˝ sheets and more 32- and 16-[page] work, which is significantly faster through the pressroom and folding. Our operators are astounded and have truly embraced the M80 with open arms.”
Worzalla also greatly benefits from the automation features available on the folder. “One of the biggest advantages of the machine is the fact that it is completely automated,” Kemnitz adds. “Previously, we needed to manually move plates, and manually adjust roller pressures in all of our other machines.
“Since purchasing the M80 equipped with automation, the plates and rollers adjust themselves; our operators simply move units around, plug in, and input the job information,” he continues. “Everything sets itself up after that, so setup is blazing fast for the team.”
Before the M80 installation, they had also been running one operator for each individual machine. “We have just recently been able to ‘float’ an operator,” Kemnitz says. “Everyone is feeling the labor crunch and is having a hard time getting the right skillset in the plant, so being able to have an operator run multiple pieces of equipment simultaneously has been tremendously beneficial.”
According to Kemnitz, the success of getting a machine up and running quickly and correctly hinges very much on the skills and knowledge of the installer and technical support that comes in for the training. He points out that the MBO tech support team has been involved in the process from before day one, and that the MBO installers are industry veterans, some for over 25 years.
“The fact that they have lived and breathed this industry for as long as they have, means they understand the equipment better, can make better recommendations and help train our team accordingly. The tech support has just been phenomenal.”
Last month in the folding area, year-over-year, Worzalla had 3.4 million additional units go through its folding production. “It’s been busy,” Kemnitz notes, “which has given us a real opportunity to push the machine to its limit. We’ve been able to get more volume through the plant with the M80, especially with our new press. Had we not had the right finishing system in place, we’d be in a lot of trouble.”
It’s been one of the busiest times of the season for Worzalla, as the company has a high-profile book series customer, which has an upcoming release. In addition, there has been explosive growth in a surprising new business segment for the team: adult coloring books. Kemnitz says that they’ve already folded just shy of 10 million sheets for different coloring books alone and anticipates another round of orders. “This is a great new business segment for us because, as a printer, black-and-white is a relatively straight-forward job. And, the large volume is also nice,” he adds.
Worzalla plans to keep growing. “We’re a pretty unique company from the standpoint that we’ve been around over 110 years, starting as the Polish newspaper publisher in the area, which we were for many years. We are unique in that we have a very talented, great group of individuals — some of whom have worked here for 25 to 40 years. We have great hopes and projections for the future, and we will no doubt get there.” PI