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Finishing The Job?The Right Way

April 1998

What are you looking for in a collator? Find out what manufacturers suggest.

WHEN YOU complete a printing job that meets your client's specifications, adding the finishing touches are like putting the icing on a cake. It adds oomph.

But when an otherwise beautifully perfect-bound book is botched up with sloppy and seemingly careless stapling and stitching, elegance goes out the door and disappointment comes flying in.

Nowhere was this more apparent than during the recent judging of In-Print® 98, the joint In-Plant Graphics/International Publishing Management Association printing contest. The judges, meticulous and discriminating in their approach, eliminated many otherwise beautifully printed projects because of bad folds or stitches—and they didn't take pleasure in eliminating them, either. In fact, it seemed to almost pain them that they had to throw their first choices in the reject bin because of a staple that was off or a fold that was uneven.

You, as in-plant employee, have to show your best side all the time. As Contest Judge Debbie Leone, of St. Joseph's University, explains, "When there's a mistake...the in-plant looks bad, not the actual client."

Leone stresses that it's important to present the job as professional as possible—because your customer is counting on it.

When shopping around for a collator, managers say you should look for one that will fulfill your needs, immediate and future.

Setup is a feature that should help narrow down your choices. Whether you choose automatic or manual depends on the work you're doing.

If your shop does long-run work, then automatic setup isn't crucial. But for shorter run lengths, automatic setup is a plus. Spending just a few minutes verses a half-hour decreases waste time and increases productivity.

"If your job will take 30 minutes, you can't afford to spend 10 minutes setting up," asserts Mark Hunt, marketing manager for Standard Finishing Systems. "That's one-third of production time. In-plants can't afford wasted time like that, especially for short-run work."

Less Experience Required

Though they are more expensive, automatic setup collators require less expertise to operate. All you need is a good working finger to be able to push the button and, voila, the machine is ready for action. But you have to be certain that this application fits your market and is necessary for your operation.

In other words, will the machine pay for itself?

Don Schroeder, vice president of sales at C.P. Bourg, explains it this way: "If you're doing six changeovers during one eight-hour shift, then automated equipment will offset the expense," he says. "But if your run lengths are longer, and you're not doing as many changeovers, then manual would probably be your safest bet."


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