Collators Put Your Papers In Order

In today’s print-on-demand market, manufacturers are rolling out collators designed for shorter runs.

by Chris Bauer

The Kansas Department of Transportation’s in-plant specializes in really big jobs—to be specific, high-volume 22×36˝ construction documents. Last year the Topeka-based shop output 1,679,100 square feet of these large documents.

When it’s not handling these projects, though, the 25-employee shop keeps busy printing smaller sized items like training manuals, monthly reports and a KDOT newsletter. To handle these jobs, the in-plant relies heavily on its 30-bin, three-tower C.P. Bourg BST 10 collator.

“The best feature on the collator is that it’s electronically programmable,” notes Bill Crooks, print shop manager in the Bureau of Support Services. “It allows you to continue to collate from one or two towers while you reload the third tower. If one tower is giving you a problem, you can just use the other two.”

Most of the work handled by the collator, according to Crooks, is 8-1⁄2×11˝ front-and-back booklets and 11×17˝ saddle stitched booklets.

“In the future, we want to be able to add the booklet maker [and trimmer] to the collator, and be able to add more towers,” says Crooks—if the volume of work warrants it.

Adapting To Short Runs

Collators are extremely useful—and popular—devices for in-plants. According to a recent IPG survey, 81 percent of in-plants have collators. But with short-run, on-demand work increasingly filling in-plants’ workloads, modern collators have had to adapt.

“Shorter run lengths mandate quick setups and changeovers,” acknowledges Don Dubuque, product manager for Standard Finishing Systems. As a result, collating systems have had to become even more automated.

“Automation is most effectively addressed through interactive, icon-based touchscreens that clearly and efficiently step the operator through all setups,” he says. “This, in turn, leads to improved efficiency with quicker setup times and faster turnarounds, which is particularly important as run lengths decline. Automated, shortened job setup times translate into higher profits, more collator run-time, and the possibility to free up an operator to run another piece of equipment.”

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