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Automation reduces set-up time, increases profitability

Press release from the issuing company

Feb 26 2008 - Of course, the objective of any investment is to make a profit. And when it comes to saddle stitchers and other print finishing machines, one of the keys to increasing profitability is to invest in automated equipment that can reduce set-up time.  This is particularly essential these days as run lengths are trending shorter and changeovers are more frequent.

Every bookbinder is familiar with the following situation: The saddle stitcher was set up in the morning for a 50,000 run of 8 ½" x 11" product. The start of this long run began smoothly, when suddenly: another customer arrives at the door with an urgent last-minute job. He needs just 500 copies of a 6" x 9" product, and the job must be completed that evening. A challenge, yes.  An obstacle, no...not with the right print finishing technology.

"No problem for a saddle stitcher that is equipped with our Automatic Make-Ready System (AMRYS)," affirms Tom Dumke, Finishing and Mailroom Manager at Action Printing a Gannett, Co., in Fond du Lac, WI. Mr. Dumke is a seasoned expert on high quality, cost-effective saddle stitcher production.  Indeed, hundreds of saddle stitchers equipped with AMRYS from Muller Martini performs reliably on five continents, handling jobs as described above with the highest possible productivity.  With AMRYS-supported equipment, all format-relevant parts of the feeder, chain positioning, infeed, format, and thickness setting from the three-knife trimmer right through to various elements in the compensating stacker are adjusted automatically "as if by magic" according to Tom. In almost no time, the saddle stitcher is adjusted from 8 ½" x 11" to 6" x 9" and ready to use.

Adjustments "On the Fly" Save Time and Money

"But it doesn't always have to be AMRYS;" maintains Mr. Dumke. "It's much more a matter of determining in dialogue with the customer what machine best fulfills the customer's needs."  Tom goes on to explain the fact that these days more and more printing and binding companies are relying on flexible, quickly convertible saddle stitchers equipped with automated set-up capabilities.  It's easy to see why.  Short conversion times enable greater machine capacity and therefore higher net production results...which in turn can equal increased profitability.

He points out that Muller Martini has engineered many important and practical innovations in this area, including technological advancements for saddle stitchers that lead to considerably shorter set-up times. Utilizing these innovations, efficiency enhancements can be realized with regard to signature drop timings, position findings and changes in job specs during the production process.  "Before, a machine operator had to search for position timings for a certain setting 'X' amount of times depending upon the number of pockets on the saddle stitcher," Mr. Dumke recalls. "Nowadays, for example, he simply presses 'a button" and the machine goes right to where it needs to be set for all of the pockets simultaneously."  Tom also emphasizes the importance of simple, reproducible set-up tools and techniques, such as measures or scales, pneumatic knife clamps, motorized gathering chain positioning, and especially the ability to adjust settings from outside the equipment during "on the fly" operation.  "That means that all the settings relevant to the operation can be adjusted during the production process.  Subsequent adjustments that can potentially be made in the event of a changed production speed can be carried out without stopping the machine," states Mr. Dumke.

AMRYS for Maximum Operating Convenience and the Shortest Set-up Times

Thanks to the company's proven modular system, Muller Martini is able to offer customers the ideal level of automation to meet the customer's needs and budget. "I admire Muller martini machines because of the degree of automation can be tailored exactly to the customers needs. That begins with a simple saddle stitcher with a motorized gathering chain adjustment and goes on to the fully automatic solution with AMRYS," says Mr. Dumke.

Saddle stitching systems that are equipped with AMRYS provide maximum user convenience:
-    Production is managed and controlled by touchscreen operation.
-    Job data can be gathered and analyzed during running production.
-    Format settings for feeders, stitchers, three-knife trimmers and compensating stackers are adjusted automatically.
-    Subsequent and/or repeat jobs are stored and can be retrieved easily.
-    Adjustment of the equipment to a new job is performed automatically.
-    The equipment offers optimum "on the fly" flexibility for last minute jobs.
-    Set-up times can be shortened by 40-50%.
-    CIP4 compliant- the machine can accept JDF files for makeready automation and export JMF files for data collection and machine status monitoring.

Mr. Dumke reports that the site has been successful at using JDF files to further automate the machine set-up. Action Printing exports JDF files from their pre-press department to makeready their saddle stitcher.  "At Action Printing we believe that the best way to improve throughput and production efficiency's is to create a company wide JDF workflow – from estimating through post press. Our Prima saddle stitcher with AMRYS was one of the first pieces of creating our JDF network. Muller Martini is an industry leader for JDF integration", states Mr. Dumke.

Shorter set-up times mean less idle time and more productivity.  AMRYS provides a clear and easily understandable presentation of all job data to quickly help the machine operator achieve high net production speed – a benefit that can pay off handsomely in terms of reduced labor expenses, faster turnarounds and more responsiveness to customer deadlines.

In addition to full AMRYS automatic make-ready technology, Muller Martini also offers affordable partial AMRYS solutions (i.e., format automation only for the feeder or only for the stitcher, three-knife trimmer, and compensating stacker).

State-of-the-art "Optimizer" Display

Having a quick-reference graphic data display on the machine can considerably reduce the machine operator's work.  That's why the "Optimizer" display has been standard on all Muller Martini saddle stitchers for years.  The Optimizer provides a visual overview based on color coding.  Green signifies that everything is good to go; yellow alerts the machine operator to a particular aspect of the job, and red shows potential problem areas for which optimization technology can be used to quickly address and rectify the problem.

Advantages of the Optimizer:

-    The visual overview can be retrieved easily with the touch of a finger.
-    The system enables permanently high and optimal net speeds.
-    Optimizer reacts immediately to changes during production and indicates problem areas. Steps can be taken to respond to the changes as well as problem resolution can thereby be recognized and employed in a targeted manner.
-    The Optimizer is a small but highly important building block that can assist equipment in running more safely with fewer jams and maximized net production.

Bottom-Line Results

Any strategies that shorten set-up time and avoid machine stoppages will contribute to higher net production and ultimately increased profits.  Nonetheless, Tom Dumke's principle is: "I recommend that printers first analyze their situation as precisely as possible – number of books produced, trim size's required along with the customers current status machine run speeds and makeready times - only to make necessary investments when you achieve an acceptable ROI and meet your customers expectations for turn around time and book quality. Printers should also make sure that the machine is capable of accepting JDF files for future workflow integration."

With that thought in mind, saddle stitching systems from Muller Martini offer the most advantageous possibilities for attaining measurable return on investment both immediately and for the long term.  Furthermore, all Muller Martini saddle stitching systems (even those without AMRYS automatic make-ready) can be integrated into the digital workflow, and that translates to time saved because data needs to be input only once.