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FREE: The Last Frontier: An Interview with Mark Hunt of Standard Finishing

Standard has been with the industry for nearly a century;

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: May 6, 2004

Standard has been with the industry for nearly a century; founded in 1910 to be exact. They are a leading North American supplier of print finishing and paper processing equipment, a vendor of choice for most press manufacturers--both offset and digital. They do not manufacture, but sell, service and support the products of Horizon International in Japan and Hunkeler AG in Switzerland. Distribution is done through direct sales channels and an extensive network of authorized local dealers. Their market and application knowledge is key to helping customers achieve highly efficient and cost effective feeding and finishing solutions that meet their needs. WTT was fortunate to secure some pre-drupa time from Mark Hunt, Director of Marketing.

WTT: Mark, tell me about your partnerships in the industry.

MH: Standard partners aggressively. We sell in cooperation with Xerox, IBM, Océ and HP/Indigo with formal partnerships, and we have a variety of informal ones in related spaces such as mailing. There is a great deal of convergence in all the printing spaces--especially mailing, fulfillment and service bureaus--and we play a role in each. In some situations we are in partnership with Heidelberg, such as the Digimaster 9110 and 9150, but on the press side we are in competition. We partner with Ryobe, Hamada and most press lines, other than Heidelberg and MAN Roland. But we are in deals with them all the time. We compete but cooperate.

WTT: When selling in partnership, would we find you on the sales call, servicing the equipment or training operators? Is your brand name visible?

MH : All situations are possible. The feeling between partners is "whatever makes the deal happen." Our brand name is appearing with increasing frequency. For instance, The Standard bookletmaker is sold together with the Xerox 6060 color press. It is sold and serviced by Xerox, but keeps our brand.

WTT: Tell me about your theme for drupa and why you selected it.

MH: The theme we have been driving home for the last 7 or 8 months, and being capped off at drupa, is Think Automation. This was adopted because it fits with the strategic direction of our manufacturers. The bindery is the last frontier into the digital workflow. CIP4 and JDF are embracing finishing parameters and it is possible to capture finishing information in a digital language at the point of job creation. Up until now the information was lost.

WTT: How will Horizon and Hunkeler demonstrate "the last frontier" at drupa?

MH: They both have well-coordinated strategies to capture and leverage digital information. Horizon will show complete workflows with Screen and Creo that are fully automated with folding machines, perfect binding, saddle stitching, 3-knife trimmers, collating systems, and cutters, among others. The full spectrum of bindery hardware is capable of being digitally controlled via a workflow. Horizon built out their own worfkflow management system, i2i--from the eye of the creator to the eye of the beholder.

WTT: Can you describe the Horizon workflow in more detail (Hall 13/ B13/B35) ?

MH: The workflow will be set up in Upfront, a Screen product, and flow down to the press and to Horizon i2i. It generates a job ticket for the pallet and finishing instructions. This is machine-readable code, such as a barcode. Instead of big plastic sleeves with the job specs being moved from department to department in a traditional environment, the Folder just scans the ticket with a barcode reader and all the parameters are uploaded to the Folder.

WTT: What are the benefits of this more automated process to the printer?

MH: When business statistics become part of the bindery, an owner can better measure productivity and profitability. The bindery has been the least well-studied area in terms of making money. A big benefit in i2i is capturing parameters for future jobs. It's in the memory. There is greater visibility into the process and opportunities for improvement and more flexibility. Job statistics can be used to improve future bidding. There is also a change in role for the postpress operator. The operator is where errors can occur, and postpress has required highly trained and expensive specialists. Often a job has to wait until a specific operator is available. Now all operators can have the same level of professionalism. The process will be much faster and reduce spoilage.

WTT: Can you tell us more about announcements from Horizon?

MH: Yes, there will be new announcements to the Folder line. There will be new accessories, one being a continuous pile feeder for very long runs that can go without interruption. For a big production environment, you can have real time replenishment and don't have to use smaller lifts. There is a new palette feeder for cut sheet presses. A palette of printed sheets can be wheeled to the backside of the Folder that automatically lifts and feeds. You will see a new press stacking and semi-automatic bundling unit. It creates folded packages, pressed and banded for easier downstream handling. Other introductions from Horizon in the Folder category will round out their line to be as complete as their competitors, such as MBO.

WTT: Will there be any announcements for finishing ink and digital together in one unit?

MH: There is a new, intelligent high speed sheet feeder by Horizon, that integrates with saddle stitching and bookletmaking products to serve digital and conventional offset in the same system. Generally, digital output is already collated, but press output requires an additional step. There will be dynamic interposition of digital and offset products. For instance, offset covers or additional sheets going from the collator to a digitally printed statement. Seeking the benefits of variable output, Fidelity may want to send a high net worth customer a 4-color cover with an annuity cross sell sheet and the low net worth person a 2-color cover without the added sheet. Some customers are doing this with patched together systems. This is good for shops with digital and offset under one roof with runs under 10,000.

WTT: What can we expect from Hunkeler at drupa (Hall 14/A40) ?

MH: Hunkeler has its heritage in graphics with large webfed integrated label machines. Most importantly, they have created digital pre and post equipment for the high-speed web fed equipment of IBM, Océ, Xerox, Nipson and Delphax. You usually see unwinders, cutters, stackers, rewinders and slit/merge for transactional applications. As digital printing becomes more important, offset labels are declining. With the trend to shortened run lengths, faster setup and changeover equipment is needed. The real driver, and Hunkeler's core competence, is unwinders and cutters.

WTT: Will there be any announcements with regard to UP3i?

MH: At drupa, Hunkeler will announce a new cutter called the CS4II, enhanced with several productivity advancements. Among them is the cutter UP3i-enabled. The idea is to process dynamic applications instream. The Holy Grail for UP3i is feeding paper. You will see the IBM Infoprint 4100 at 250 ft per minute doing several different jobs where the cutter doesn't skip a beat and changes dynamically without intervention. UP3i has been an enormous step in the right direction. You will also see automatic diversion of some empty sheets (such as Page Left a Blank) and not others, which is very important in legacy applications. In some digital printers, such as the HP/Indigo, there are waste sheets while getting up to speed. These can be cut and exited with no sorting at the end.

WTT: As the last frontier, would you say finishing is ready for a strong growth spurt?

MH: There is no doubt in my mind. Finishing is the place to get new efficiencies and profits. Those who have already made tremendous investments in prepress will want to maximize their profitability by looking at finishing.

For more information, please visit www.sdmc.com

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