Collators The Options Are Open
"Look for simple, but powerful, intelligent programming, ideally with an icon-based touchscreen that will guide you through setups and make it easy to cross-train operators," he says. "Few [in-plants] today have the luxury of dedicated operators for particular equipment."
Versatility is a key ingredient for serving the evolving needs of clients, according to Tony Cockerham of Buhrs Americas. Feeder varieties merit attention.
"One should pay great attention to the types of feed hoppers available and their ability to run the different types of product," he says. "Is the product to be collated single sheets, multiple pages, stitched books, perfect-bound books? What are the thickness requirements? Do the feed hoppers have quality checks such as miss-feed or double-feed detection?"
Ease of setup is a major consideration, notes Dennis James, manager of press planning and management for A.B.Dick. Variables such as the need for tools to change sizes and the time needed to switch between standard sizes impact the bottom line.
"Labor is the majority of the expense of the job," James says. "If it takes a lot of time or tools to make adjustments for stock changeovers, it limits the ability to be flexible in the kinds of jobs run. It also limits the amount of profits the job will yield."
In addition to automation, ease of setup and selective collating, Hans Max, president and CEO of MBO America, says collators that can accommodate the widest variety of material, from lightweight paper to heavy chipboard, are in high demand.
Vertical Or Horizontal?
Ergonomic issues can come into play when deciding between a short-run vertical collator or a deep-pile horizontal model, according to Donald Schroeder, vice president of sales for C.P. Bourg.
"Horizontal models are almost always floor-designed, deep-pile models and vacuum fed," Schroeder says. "These designs are more versatile, feed a wider variety of stocks in terms of weights and substrates, and most feature ergonomic designs for loading materials. Vertical collators limit quantity per bin, 2˝ versus 33˝, and material must be lifted by operators who fatigue easily when collating heavy coated stocks."