Work is mix of sizes and formats

Precision Proco automates binding with mega Muller install

InfiniTrim: “probably one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever bought"
InfiniTrim: “probably one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever bought"

Precision Proco has made a multimillion-pound investment with Muller Martini to automate softcover and casebound book production at its Dagenham facility.

The new kit was installed last autumn and was up and running in time for the company’s pre-Christmas peak season.

The setup includes two Muller Martini Vareo Pro perfect binders. One is dedicated to softcover production, while the second can produce both soft and hardcover books and has a Mull lining station and VBA endpaper application unit.

Both of the Vareos are barcode-driven and require zero makeready.

The associated conveyor system includes a scan and print setup to allow cover identification for hardcover products and an EMP513 casing-in line, which has been upgraded to handle book of one production for items such as photobooks.

Both of the Vareo Pro binders are linked to a Muller Martini InfiniTrim three-knife trimmer, which is also barcode driven and delivers the finished books to different distribution areas.

Precision Proco chief operating officer Andy Skarpellis said market demand had changed and customers were demanding a more ‘traditional’ casebound book with end papers.

He told Printweek: “We set out on this project to make sure that the technology developed by the supplier was fully utilised by us.

“Our MOPS – Manufacturing Operations team – made sure that all the products had the right barcodes on at the frontend.

“On one of the Vareo lines we can put a softcover A5 book in and it knows it’s a softcover book. On the other line we can feed an A4 hardcover book with traditional end papers, and it knows to attach those. Both will go through the machine and end up one behind the other going into the InfiniTrim.

Skarpellis described the InfiniTrim as “probably one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever bought, and I’ve bought a lot of machinery”.

The equipment was installed in September and signed off in November by Muller Martini and Precision Proco.

“By the third week in December we’d done nearly half a million books through it,” Skarpellis added.

He said the total investment was “well over £2.5m”.

“Because of such a large investment it had to hit the ground running. That part was our responsibility. Muller Martini is a tried and tested manufacturer.”

He said the work mix going through the new binding setup was made up entirely of variable sizes and quantities, with the average quantity per order at seven books.

The Vareos can also produce conventional thread sewn products.

Muller Martini UK sales manager David McGinlay said he was delighted at the success of the installation, and described the Precision Proco approach as a UK first.

“Most people who have our systems are running it off a web-fed digital press, whereas they have sheetfed digital so that makes it a bit different. I think they have a unique position in the sector.”

At the end of last year the then-Precision Proco Group restructured into two parts, production and technology.

Precision Proco handles the production aspect of the business at its sites in Dagenham, Sheffield, Sunderland and West London.

Turnover at the overall business, which employs around 500 staff, is expected to be around £70m in the current financial year ending on 31 March.