Me & my: Wohlenberg City e 6000 perfect binder
Thursday, 02 August 2012
The UK's largest installation of long perfecting presses requires significant finishing firepower - just what Buxton Press has installed
Chris South is a product of Buxton Press as much as the magazines that run off the company’s collection of long perfecting presses, the largest installation of the latter for magazine work in the UK. On leaving school, he came straight to the Derbyshire business as a cadet in its in-house Print Training Academy, and since then he has risen through the ranks and is now finishing manager. Hence, 70 years of printing experience has shaped his training and career as much as it does the production of magazines for the likes of Excel Publishing.
It made sense, then, for him to take a lead role when it came to the selection of new perfect binding kit, as he would know intuitively the type of machine that would fit the company’s needs. The requirement for extra binding capacity was not down to any failure of existing equipment, but because Buxton was expanding its press capacity, says South.
"Our older binder was absolutely fine, we just needed extra capacity to cope with the significantly increasing workload, particularly in the light of new press purchases," he explains. "Buxton is rapidly expanding – as is the requirement for perfect binding – so it made sense to double our capacity to help streamline our operations, and at the same time provide a solid base for future expansion."
The Buxton procurement programme’s aim is to replace a long perfecting press each year until 2018 and included an investment in two Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 perfectors at Drupa.
"The ultimate goal is to move from £18m turnover to £30m, and it will be done in stages," said Buxton chairman Bernard Galloway at the time of the upgrades. "We aim to maximise every piece of kit we’ve got, including the building. Every square metre costs, and we want to get maximum velocity going through the factory."
The bindery is obviously a key part of this strive for production perfection and so South’s job was a crucial one. As would be expected of a man raised by the company, he took his time and carefully assessed his options so as to ensure Buxton got its money’s worth.
"We did our homework, which included product testing and site visits to suppliers and users, both in the UK and abroad," he explains. "It was really useful talking to the people who operated and maintained the equipment options to get a true reflection of what it really does – not what it’s supposed to do. This allowed us to assess if the kit was really going to do what we needed."
South, along with other Buxton management staff, scored the performance of the prospective machines and, fortunately, the end decision was a unanimous one – the 15-station Wohlenberg City e 6000 perfect binder won out.
"It ticked all the boxes," says South. "We believed that the technological developments with the new generation of Wohlenberg binders best suited Buxton’s work mix, particularly the labour-saving elements and impressive speed of changeovers. Space is at a premium at Buxton and the footprint of the Wohlenberg is smaller than some of its competitors without any compromise on quality or productivity."
The City e 6000 is available in 4,000 and 5,000 cycles per hour (cph) versions, as well as the 6,000cph model Buxton has installed. All major functions such as the VSS fore-edge trimming device, are motorised and controlled via the Navigator SE platform, and products of heights between 140-370mm, widths of 108-320mm and thicknesses of 2-62mm can be processed. It boasts a separately operating registering and pressing station for exact positioning of cover and optimal spine forming, and a second pressing station for subsequent spine forming.
There is also a laydown device for gentle positioning of the products and as an interface for inline linking. Buxton’s installation also included a three-knife trimmer and stacker.
The fact this particular machine came out on top was not much of a surprise to the Buxton team, as they already had the same model installed at the factory already.
"Being very satisfied with the one Wohlenberg we already had in-house, we had no qualms about having another. It was the logical – and best – choice," says South. "Installing a second of the same type also had the added benefits that no extra training was needed and there would be no bedding in process; we could be up and running almost immediately."
Up and running, that is, after some negotiation with distributor Friedheim International. "We negotiated a deal with Friedheim to have overall responsibility to supply, install and commission all the new equipment for our post-press expansion," says South. "Of which the Wohlenberg was obviously a part."
Roger Cartwright, sales manager for Baumann/Wohlenberg at Friedheim responds: "We were delighted that Buxton Press chose Friedheim and Wohlenberg as their preferred perfect binder supplier for a second time. Buxton Press goes from strength to strength and, as one of their suppliers, it’s great to be a part of that story."
Installation of the new perfect binder took place last summer and, as South said earlier, training would not be a problem because of the existing machine. Getting the machine through the door, however, did prove tricky.
"While the installation went smoothly, we did have a big headache actually getting the equipment through the door and onto the factory floor," reports South. "As this was an ‘extra’ binder rather than an ‘instead of’ purchase, we had to create a dedicated space which did necessitate a bit of repositioning of other equipment. All in all, installation took around 10 days."
South says that after installation the machine was ready to go immediately, with no initial problems. "I think that means that the engineers did a good job," he says.
Since installation, he says things have gone just as smoothly. "You always expect issues but we haven’t experienced any to date," he reveals. "We’ve been really pleased by the overall performance and impressed by the level of on-going support and after-sales service we’ve received, even though we haven’t had to use it that often. The few queries we have had, have been dealt with swiftly and professionally."
On the point of after-sales service, Buxton did take out a service plan with Friedheim. South says it is company policy to form such arrangements for all new kit. He explains that as a busy, 24/7 operation, the business cannot afford downtime and so service agreements are essential, as has been proved with the original Wohlenberg binder at the company.
"There are inevitably wear and tear issues with the older binder, which is only to be expected, but Wohlenberg react quickly and professionally to minimise any impact," he says.
In the 12 months since installation, the new City e 6000 has caused no problems, however, and South says it has had a big impact on Buxton. He explains that, in terms of speed, the flexibility in having the three different rated City binders means you can specify for your specific requirements. Buxton needed the fastest model and it has, he says, delivered.
"We opted for 6,000 books per hour and needed quick changeovers to both binder and trimmer, which the Wohlenberg provides," he says. "It has fitted our requirement exactly."
As for quality, he says the story is just as positive."In my opinion, it’s the same high standard we’ve come to expect from Wohlenberg," he explains. "We bind in excess of 30m books and if the quality wasn’t right, we’d have a lot of upset clients – which we don’t!"
He explains that the new machine has more automated makeready compared to the existing binder, and this has had a further impact on both speed and quality.
"Automated makeready technology has resulted in improvements in speed and consistency and, together with signature recognition, which picks up on any colour and text variance, we’re guaranteed quality all of the time," he says.
The impact of these improvements, and of having a second Wohlenberg binder, are of course also financial. South says having dual capacity for perfect binding has made a "huge difference" to throughput, which of course has had a knock on effect on bottom line profitability – something he says is "vital" in the magazines sector.
As a result, it comes as no surprise that South would recommend the machine to others, though obviously with the caveat that you would need to be doing the level of work and type of work to make the purchase worthwhile.
He says that the investment has been a really important one for Buxton, and that if expansion at the company continues, he may well be giving Wohlenberg a call for a third time…
"It fulfils our requirements and with the current upsurge in productivity following the purchase of the new presses, another Wohlenberg could well be on the cards."
Established more than 70 years ago, Buxton Press is a Derbyshire-based sheetfed magazine printer, boasting a vertically integrated production facility from pre-press through to total fulfilment, including the largest installation of long perfecting magazine presses in the UK. It is currently implementing a £20m refurbishment programme at its Buxton facility in the Peak District, a process it hopes will increase turnover to £30m.
Why it was bought…
The company was embarking on a press investment programme and so needed the bindery to keep up. Hence, finishing manager Chris South set about finding a perfect binder that would meet the demands of increased production. He opted for a second Wohlenberg City e 6000 after careful consideration of the market.
How it has performed…
South says that the speed and quality of the machine has been excellent, and that its installation has brought benefits to the productivity of the business that have had a direct positive impact on the bottom line of the company. In the 12 months since installation, there have been no issues with reliability and the company has been so impressed they are debating a third installation in the future.
Max speed 4,000, 5,000, or 6,000 cycles per hour, depending on model
Max book dimensions 70x320x62mm
Price Around £850,000 for typical spec
Contact Friedheim International 0843 289 3410 www.friedheim.co.uk
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