Saturday, January 21, 2012

In-Line Production and Operations - The Benefits of Combining Processes

One of the easiest ways to save money, increase production, and improve over-all efficiency is to combine multiple processes. With all of the technology available today, it's particularly easy to do in the printing, packaging, fulfillment, and mailing industry.
Take the following example from the commercial printing and direct mail equipment industry: A document is printed on a press and sent to a folding machine, where the paper is folded at speeds of up to 20,000 per hour. Then the folded pieces are stacked on a pallet and moved to the mailing equipment to be addressed and sorted. The addressing process requires a high-speed inkjet printer and a tabber, which typically runs slower because Postal sorting equipment slows the process.
What if we can combine a process or two? By simply adding a 'bump-turn conveyor' and a Glue System to your folder, you can fold, seal, and address your documents in a single operation. No need to place it on a pallet and move it to another location.
A bump-turn conveyor can be placed on the output of common high-speed production folders, such as Stahl, Heidelberg, MBO, MOLL, Profold, and others. It will turn the document in the correct direction for addressing as it leaves the folder, and bring it up to a high-speed inkjet printer for final processing. There is no need for a tabber, because the glue system will seal the mailing piece before it even leaves the folder.
Normally, it takes up to two operators to run an inkjet address printer / tabbing machine line, because one person has to feed material and the other has to sort mail. If the high-speed inkjet printer is running directly from a folder, a single operator can focus on sorting, and the feeding will take care of itself. The job can be completed faster and more cheaply because some of the operations have been eliminated.
Other examples include:
Envelope Inserters and Inkjet Address Printers: If you are inserting envelopes that must be addressed, why not run your inkjet address printer directly from your inserter? All that is required is an in-line transport base and an envelope turn-over.
Document Matching: Want to match the variable data on a document with the address on a closed face envelope? Printing all the envelopes in advance and using a Vision Camera System to ensure that the envelope and the document match each other, is often how this is done. Why not use an inkjet address printer that is capable of tracking through the envelope inserter? You could actually read the document in the envelope inserter, send the data to an inkjet address printer (on the output of the inserter), and print the matching address on the closed envelope as it leaves the machine.
Bindery/Addressing: Booklets are typically assembled on a folder / stitcher. That includes machines from companies like Heidelberg and Mueller Martini. By adding an incline acceleration conveyor, you can bring the finished books from the trim station into a high-speed inkjet printer for 'one step stitching and addressing'.
There are many opportunities for combining processes in today's market, and by adding simple accessories, you can often find a solution with your existing direct mail equipment. This will add to your profit margin decrease your turn time for each job.

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