Do you know your bindery equipment can be made substantially more productive with an upgrade that might not immediately come to mind? We're referring to independent or stand-alone control boxes which allow one segment of a machine to operate independently of the ‘mother’ machine.
A common scenario where this upgrade comes in to play is in shops with floor-model folding machines equipped with roll-away right angle sections. Normal operation requires that you roll the section (or sections) into position and connect to the main section in order to run as one unit. Such right angles typically can’t be run independently of the main section. (There are exceptions to this with some older folding machines.)
When you add an independent control box to a right angle section, you can now wheel that section wherever you need it, to run as a self-contained folding machine. Of course you have to find a way to feed this new folding section but there’s a chance you already have the necessary equipment on your shop floor.
Here are some configurations made possible with the simple addition of the self-control box:
- Run at right angles to nearly any scoring or perforating machine. (The photo shows a Stahl unit with a scoring machine in which we’re creasing, folding and trimming a 6 panel brochure 2-up on 80# Cover.)
- Run straight inline with your scoring or perforating machine, using it as a simple feeder
- Run inline with any number of popular friction or vacuum feeders such as Streamfeeder, Sure-feed, etc.
- Run at right angles or inline with other folding machines. For instance, roll a 4-plate right angle section up to a Baum 714 and you instantly have 6 parallel folds available or a 2 + 4 right angle fold configuration.
- Mix and match manufacturer’s machines. For instance if you have an MBO folder with an 8pp right angle section you could combine an independently powered Stahl right angle with the MBO to create a 16pp machine.
- Run an 8pp and a 16pp right section together with any feeding source just mentioned and you instantly have a ‘new’ 8pp folding machine
- Run a knife fold or buckle fold unit inline with a saddle stitcher to do a final soft fold of stitched books
- Run inline with a digital press or copier
As you can see, the potential is big. You don’t lose floor space with the additional capacity because the machines are already on your floor. The investment is low, ranging from $500 up to $3,000 or so for simple control boxes and slightly higher for more complex boxes. Implementation is fairly straightforward since the boxes are readily available from Baumfolder, Stahl and MBO for many of their popular units. If they’re not available, a good technician can fabricate a suitable retrofit.
With accurate schematics and machine information, custom controls can be built to interface most machines if an off-the-shelf box is not available or if the box needs a little modification to suit your process. According to Double you might run into difficulty with older equipment where plug styles are obsolete or hard to find. Also some newer machines use serial communication between units in which case you may run into proprietary software issues.
Check with your local folding machine dealer or the manufacturer to learn what types of boxes are available for your equipment. Or contact Dave Double via his website if you are interested in an installation.
It’s a project worth investigating since the return on investment can be significant, with a rapid payback on your initial investment. Review the bindery equipment on your floor and do a little mixing and matching. If you need a feeding source, there are plenty of new and used feeders, scoring or perforating machines available to suit the jobs you want to run. Add creasing, perforating and cutting tools as needed and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the value of your new production center!
It takes a little planning, a few dollars and perhaps some technical support to help with the integration, but it’s a simple procedure and most of us bindery types like this sort of challenge. The net result is an increase in your bindery department’s production capacity and flexibility at very little cost. In our rapidly changing industry every added bit of flexibility goes a long way toward meeting your customer’s needs.