Me & my... Ibis Smart-binder SB-3
By Jenny Roper Thursday, 29 November 2012
Delivering a range of applications for which nothing short of 100% accuracy is essential, DST Output knows the value of a reliable binder
It’s every consumer’s worst nightmare. Opening up a booklet detailing your recent financial transactions only to find that one of the pages contains very sensitive information regarding someone else’s account, and realising that your information must also have been sent to a complete stranger.
Of course, this is also every transactional printer’s worst nightmare, signalling as it does the failure of their operation to ensure data integrity. It is certainly DST Output’s worst nightmare.
Formed when IOS UK integrated Lateral Group’s customer connection divisions after acquiring Lateral in 2011, and taking its name from its NYSE-listed parent DST Systems, DST Output has a long history and strong reputation for preserving the integrity of transactional printing to maintain. Despite today boasting 1,300 employees and an annual turnover of over £140m, just a few mistakes in an asset-management statement, travel document, corporate action mailing, pension statement or one of the other transactional formats it prints, could seriously damage the company’s prospects.
Which is why, like most others in this field, DST places barcode-reading technology to keep track of multi-page documents very high, if not at the top, of its new-kit-shopping list. This was certainly the criteria used when purchasing a new Ibis Smart-binder SB-3 saddle stitching machine back in March last year.
"The work we’re doing can be very sensitive so integrity is of the upmost importance," explains head of digital print Steve Ware, of the investment statement booklets being run through the machine. "And the work we’re doing is intelligent work so you have variable sheets going into a book. It could be five sheets, it could be 10 sheets so the system needs to be able to read the barcode and know to collate the sets."
The fact that DST’s Dagenham team already had a saddle stitcher with a barcode reader meant they knew how important this feature would be, says Ware. And it also meant that the team knew exactly how to source a machine that would be reliable and speedy enough to boost booklet-stitching capacity when sitting alongside the plant’s existing Hohner machine.
"When we were looking for a machine to complement our existing stitcher, we already knew what we needed the machine to do," reports Ware. "After looking at various manufacturers, we felt the Ibis was the most suited for our type of work."
That is, the Ibis was the most productive saddle stitcher that DST came across. "Depending on the type work being stitched, the Ibis is 20% to 30% faster than our existing equipment," says Ware. "The Ibis is our workhorse; you can just keep pretty much the same application on there and it just runs and runs, although we also put short runs on it, because of its speed."
Another benefit of the Ibis SB-3 is that it is very easy to use, says Ware. "It’s quick for an operator to set the stitcher up and everything is very easy to get to, so if there is a jam it’s all easily reachable," he says. "There’s nothing there that’s been made overly complicated. With some machines that can be a problem, but this is nicely simple and just does what it needs to do."
"You load the stack of work onto the feeder and there’s a barcode reader that’s located above where the barcode sits on the page, and that reads the barcode and collates it into the set," Ware adds of the straightforward way the machine processes booklets. "So it will collate the sets and take the booklet through to the two stitching heads and do a saddle stitch. As the page goes through, it folds it and puts a stitch along the spine."
This ease-of-use means the Ibis can be run by just one operator working alone, explains Ware, which cuts production costs significantly compared with machines that require two operators.
It also means that the staff who are trained on the stitcher can resolve minor service issues themselves. "The minor fixes might be something to do with the stitching heads, the drive belts or the feeders – that’s all easy to do because of its ease-of-operation," says Ware, "Our onsite engineers also did a training course so they can resolve anything slightly more complicated," he adds.
And it is the ease with which anyone can get to grips with and, within reason, maintain the Ibis Smart-binder SB-3 that leads Ware to feel that the machine would be just as at home within a smaller print business as it is as part of DST Output’s extensive operations. "The machine is absolutely just as suitable for a smaller outfit as it is for a company like DST," he says. "It would be just as ideal for companies where maybe it’s their first venture into intelligent stitching, just because it is so simple to use."
In fact a smaller company could go for the SB-1 or SB-2 model if were keen to test the water with an entry-level machine. While the SB-3 also features individual sheet gluing (ISG) technology, which offers the alternative of glue-bound books by applying lines of cold-glue ‘dots’ between each sheet, the SB-1 and SB-2 only produce wire-stitched booklets, with the SB-1 the slower speed version of the SB-2. Indeed, although he feels the SB-3’s gluing technology may well come in handy for future jobs, Ware concedes that the company has only been using the stitcher to produce wire-stitched booklets so far.
Those whose attention has been piqued by Ware’s recommendation on the basis of speed and ease-of-use will also be interested to hear that reliability is another quality Ware would add to the list of reasons why you might want to purchase an Ibis stitcher. DST has only required the services of an Ibis engineer twice during the 18-month period the machine has been in operation, he reports.
"It’s been performing excellently, especially when you consider we run around 50,000 books a week on it," says Ware. "There was a cutting problem with the blades, but they think that may have been an operator issue, and Ibis was onsite the very next day to fix the problem."
And support from Ibis was similarly impressive during installation and training, adds Ware. "The installation went very well," he says. "It was a two-week installation process. The first week was actually getting the machine into the building and getting some test material running through it, then the second week was to test all of the existing applications that we had and double check the machine would do everything we needed it to."
"Preparing a space next to our existing Hohner machine was also a pretty straight-forward process," reports Ware, "because of the compact footprint of the Ibis SB-3."
Which all begs the question of whether DST has any plans to replace its Hohner saddle stitcher with another Ibis machine to get work through the saddle stitching stage of production even faster. The answer is, ‘not in the foreseeable future,’ and neither does the company currently plan to upgrade to the SB-4 or SB-5 model to benefit from the perfect binder module.
For now, Ware and his colleagues are perfectly happy with the formats the SB-3 allows the plant to produce, and the extra capacity it has brought. "We’re processing work quicker, getting less production bottlenecks and, because it only needs one operator, it has reduced our production costs," says Ware. "The SB-3 has ticked all of the boxes in terms of what we needed the machine to do."
Max book size 320x230 mm
Max book thickness SB-2/SB-3: 10mm SB-4/SB-5: 60mm
Trim-off range 20-27mm
Min stock weight 40gsm (with extra folder)
Max input web speed In-line/near-line: 200m/min
Max input sheet rate Off-line for sheet pile feeder: 24,000sph
Max book output 1-up: 7,000bph 2-up: 14,000bph (using trimmer centre knife)
Wire stitches Up to six flat stitches (14mm crown), 0.4–0.6mm round wire. Loop stitching optional
Footprint SB-2/SB-3 (in-line) 4.5x4.5m (L-shape)
Price Starts from £115,000
Contact Ibis 01494 561950 www.ibis-bindery.com
Formed when IOS UK integrated Lateral Group’s customer connection divisions after acquiring Lateral in 2011, and taking its name from its NYSE-listed parent DST Systems, DST Output’s key markets are compliant documentation, transactional mail, print on demand, fulfilment and direct response marketing. UK operations are spread over five sites and the company has recently embarked on a multimillion-pound spend across its Bristol, Dagenham and Nottingham sites. This includes a Kodak Prosper 5000XL at Nottingham and plans for a second high-speed inkjet web press at DST’s Bristol transactional site.
Why it was bought...
DST Output purchased the Ibis Smart-binder SB-3 for its Dagenham plant as the company was finding that its existing Hohner saddle stitcher was struggling to deal quickly enough with the workload of the investment house and direct mail booklets that the company stitches.
How it has performed...
Steve Ware, digital print manager, reports that the equipment has so far performed superbly. "In the 18 months we’ve had the SB-3, we’ve only had two call outs," he says. "It’s been a very productive machine. It’s been performing excellently and it’s been very reliable."
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