We get the sense from Graph Expo attendees and exhibitors that the show is almost like a New Year’s celebration, except we don’t get any days off. It’s a milestone that marks the end of one year and fills us with hope for things to come in the new one. Just like a party, we are privileged to engage in some interesting conversations. Here, in brief, are just a few of the people, places, and things that came up in conversation.
The Mad Scientist
There is always someone building a print finishing machine to do something new. It’s often a combination of processes customized for specific jobs. Sometimes it’s a new product or an old product marketed in a new way. Of course we’re honored that they want to use one or more of our creasing, perforating, or rotary cutting products in their project.
We like mad scientists because that’s what we are too. Graham Harris, inventor of the Tri-Creaser®, started with his invention at home in his garage. It’s these sparks of ingenuity found in garages and kitchens everywhere that makes the world go around. Bravo, mad scientists one and all.
The Hardest Job of All
In our completely unofficial and unscientific poll, we learned that managing people is the hardest job of all. Bindery work always requires a pool of unskilled labor for hand assembly, packing, and miscellaneous tasks. Without fail, everyone we talked to said managing such a group is their hardest job. If they no longer do it, it was certainly the toughest job they ever had.
When I worked in a New York City printing plant in the 80’s we used temporary day labor from an agency. It was my job to supervise them and keep them motivated. It was particularly hard to keep them on after they accumulated enough hours in the day to go buy a bottle.
One regular temp came to me mid-day to say he had to go home because his eyes were stuck. They were rolled upward as if looking at the inside of his skull and he maintained that he couldn’t get them to come down. Thus he had to go home. I gave him a 10 for creative excuses and of course let him leave.
Used Versus New Bindery Equipment
One fellow talked about how he is replacing an old Muller Normbinder with a 90’s vintage Normbinder in excellent condition. The replacement machine has accessories including signature recognition and high-volume stream feeders. He’ll add our Spine-Hinge Creaser to the cover feeder as well as other accessories throughout the machine. In the end he anticipates a doubling of his current profitable production. His total investment is about 20% the cost of new.
Yes, there are advantages to new. It all depends on what you’re doing. But you don’t have to wait for new to get significant increases in production. What accessories can you add? What tweaks can you make to the equipment? How can I handle material differently? These are questions you can start asking today.
One attendee emailed us after the show. In an attempt to jog our memories he said, “I’m the fellow who can’t remember what kind of folding machine I have.” The problem with that qualifier is it only narrowed it down to about 100 people! (We actually did remember and enjoyed meeting him as well.)
No matter how much automated print finishing equipment and software a company has, they always need one more piece of bindery equipment or tooling. Print finishing is unpredictable and demanding which makes it hard to be prepared at all times.
With a shop full of dozens of pieces of equipment, it’s hard to remember. I think that’s because printers are process oriented. They remember what and how things are done. It’s their job to make things happen, not to remember the names of all the things on which they rely. The good news is that almost everyone remembered if they had a Tri-Creaser®.
Moving to Orlando
No one was jumping up and down with joy or sadness about next year’s move. The prevailing feedback was a wait-and-see attitude. Maybe it’s because everyone knows where all the good restaurants and hotels are in Chicago. And then there is resistance to change. Chicago is like comfortable clothing; you don’t want to stop wearing it.
Whatever happens, we know we’ll get to see a bunch of people who can’t make it to Chicago and that will give us a whole new list of things to talk about.
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