It’s no surprise when newcomers to print finishing are thwarted by its hidden complexity. The simplest of folding jobs can generate all sorts of problems and questions. Heck, after 35 years working around bindery equipment I too am often surprised. When I encounter “simple” paper folding problems with no solution it reminds me what it was like to be an apprentice.
So why does it get so complicated and what can we do to simplify things? After all, most printers work with paper that varies just several thousandths of an inch in thickness.
Imagine a pressman from the 1940’s being transported to a modern digital printing department. He wouldn’t know where to start. Now imagine a bindery equipment operator from the same era dropped into a post-press department today. It probably wouldn’t take him or her long to find their way around the guillotine cutter, the folding machine, maybe a saddle stitcher, and start producing work. There would be questions, but the underlying technologies, despite being decades apart, are similar.
You might not think a poorly executed phone call from a sales person could lead to a discussion on business skills and the meaning of life, but it happens here at Technifold USA. Strange behavior from one caller had us asking why some sales people are afraid to admit they’re sales people.
It seems that outside of family, we only have a handful of people we truly consider important. Just a few friends, mentors or colleagues stand out when we look back on our lives. Paul Barrett, the National Sales Technician for Tech-ni-fold Ltd in the UK is, for me, one of those people.
“I’ve been doing it this way for thirty years.” That old-timer phrase, or some variation of it, always provokes a strong reaction in me. I heard it again recently while involved in a bindery equipment troubleshooting call. My immediate thought is almost always, “OK, brace yourself.” (I don’t think I ever said it aloud!) But as I age, or maybe I should say “as I add to my own 35 years of experience in the printing business,” I found there is often much to be learned by reflecting on why such a statement might be bothering me.
The first inkjet printer I purchased was a promising marvel of technology. In the first months of running a startup business, I was thrilled that I could now print a few full color letters or brochures in my own office. Then as I began running various designs, different types of paper and envelopes, along with attempts at mail merges, the luster of the new technology quickly turned into frustration.
In recent years digital printing has spread out into the world, with many small businesses taking on the role of mini in-plant printer. Designers, wedding invitation specialists, funeral homes, boutique printers, promotional item manufacturers, and realtors are just a few types of companies who have added printing to their operations.
The one unchangeable fact about print finishing is that there is always a need to find ways to be more productive with what you have on hand. Deadlines can change, workloads can overwhelm without notice, and new equipment can force changes to old operating habits. Whether your equipment is old or new, here are six areas for study that can yield some surprising improvements in productivity.
Imagine this: your customer comes to you with a special bookbinding project. There is only one copy, it’s 800 pages long, it’s entirely hand illustrated and hand written on hand-made paper. Your binding method must be very sturdy in order to withstand repeated heavy handling. It must be artistically pleasing to some of the most famous and demanding artists in the world. And oh yes, it took the author untold years to complete to his perfectionist satisfaction.