'Finishing 4.0' world first for Bell & Bain

Jo Francis
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bell & Bain is to dramatically increase bindery throughput with a £1m-plus investment in a bespoke Muller Martini solution that will be a world first.

The Glasgow book printer is adding a second Muller Martini Alegro A7 perfect binding line, which will be integrated with an existing Alegro A7 using Muller Martini’s servo-driven Motion Control Technology and Finishing 4.0 systems.

The dual integrated lines will allow Bell & Bain to dramatically increase throughput and remove a production bottleneck, said managing director Stephen Docherty.

“We came up with the idea of integrating the two lines, so one can consistently bind and the other can gather,” he explained. “The result will be no downtime or makeready time at all when it comes to binding, which is astonishing.”

Muller Martini UK sales manager David McGinlay said the configuration would create a constant flow of soft cover books, hard cover book blocks, gathering for thread sewn books, and pre-gathering of signatures for books that have more signatures than there are gathering stations on Bell & Bain’s binding lines.

“We are delighted to have won this important contract after a very in-depth and highly professional consultation between both Bell & Bain and Muller Martini,” McGinlay said. “What makes it possible is the complete network across the two lines, that’s where Finishing 4.0 comes into play and adds real value. The Alegro is built on servo technology and there’s nothing else like it, it really is revolutionary.”

Muller Martini launched its Finishing 4.0 interconnectivity concept at last year's Drupa

Bell & Bain’s existing 7,000cph Alegro has 18 stations and 19 clamps, while the new line will have 18 stations and 27 clamps, giving the firm more flexibility with gluing and mull units.

“The thinking behind it involved a combination of the wise heads in the business and our young managers – we are really keen on apprenticeships and we also have a lot of staff here with a great deal of longevity who really care about the business. For us that’s fantastic,” said Docherty, who put the total spend at more than £1m.  

The firm has two sites, the new Alegro will be installed at the main 3,000sqm Bell & Bain factory.

“Space is a challenge, but we will have less work in progress as a result of this investment,” he added.

Bell & Bain was founded in 1831 and is one of the biggest book printers in the UK. producing books and journals for a raft of leading publishers. The firm turned over £12.4m in 2015, and employs circa 115 staff. Docherty said business was up 15-20% this year. 

The firm’s plant list includes one Heidelberg and four KBA litho presses including a new four-back-four Rapida 145 installed last year. In addition to the Alegro, its bindery setup includes MBO folders, a Muller Martini Diamant case binder, Acoro binder, Horauf case making, Kolbus jacketing and a Heidelberg ST400 stitcher.

Its digital printing setup is made up of a Fuji Jet Press 540W inkjet web with inline Horizon Smart Binding System, and a Konica Minolta C1085 digital press. 

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