Me & my: Muller Martini InfiniTrim

By Barney Cox, Monday 01 April 2019

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4edge was set-up back in 2003 to offer a solution for publishers to produce their back lists. When it started key to its proposition was a combination of cutting-edge finishing and digital printing tech centred on the then new and innovative Horizon BQ-270 perfect binder.

mm-inifinitrim

Green: “You really can do 2,000 books per hour”

“It could set up and bind a perfect-bound book in 25 seconds, with Heidelberg Nexpress and Digimaster digital presses we could print and bind quality books quickly and efficiently,” says co-founder and managing director David Button. 

“The publishing market and our technology has changed dramatically since then and today we produce back, mid and front lists for publishers. POD (print on demand) was all the rage 15 years ago and today it is ZI (zero inventory), although ZI is proving more tricky to manufacture. We focus on ASR (auto-stock replenishment) as I feel this is the way forward for printers and publishers.”

Core products offered are high-quality short-run books and journals with a clientele consisting of publishers of all shapes and sizes. 

“Everyone from the self-publisher through to large organisations such as Pearson Education and Taylor & Francis,” he says. “We focus on the small to mid-sized publishers as these fit well with our service levels.

The firm is based in Hockley, a village located between Rayleigh and Southend in Essex and employs 22 staff.

“We have a very low staff turnover as I try to create an enjoyable, upbeat and positive working environment,” says Button. 

Four of the staff joined through the BPIF apprenticeship scheme, while the rest were experienced print finishers that the firm has retrained in book production. 

Today the firm still runs a Horizon perfect binder, with a Duplo machine for saddle-stitching. Its digital presses, while sticking with cut-sheet toner technology, have been upgraded to Océ VarioPrint for monochrome with Canon ImagePress and Konica Minolta Bizhub for colour.

It’s most recent equipment investment was made last summer when it upgraded its trimming with a Muller Martini InfiniTrim three-knife trimmer, which replaced a pair of Horizon HT30C single knife trimmers.

“We’d gone onto double days from a single shift and the two Horizons just weren’t keeping up with demand – the speed wasn’t there,” explains finishing supervisor Paul Green.

Capable of cutting 2,000 books per hour the InfiniTrim is no slouch, and in fact, is designed to be able to operate inline, feeding multiple binders if required, although that is not the configuration opted for by 4edge.

“We have it as a freestanding machine and feed it by hand as that suits our work mix and way of operating better,” says Green.

Assessing the options

Before settling on the InfiniTrim the firm looked at a number of alternatives including the Horizon HT1000 and another Muller unit, the Granit.

“What swung it in favour of the InfiniTrim is the setup time – there is none,” says Green. “Everything is driven by the barcode, which sets the head, foot and front trim. 

“Because there is no manual setup it has made everything much simpler,” he says. “On the old machines the operator had to enter the size of the book manually, so we were batching books to minimise changeover times.”

Installation went without a hitch. 

“It was really easy to install,” he says. “It came as one unit that weighed five tonnes. We’d already cleared a space for it. Installation and commissioning took three or four days and then there was another week taken for training the operators – we trained up two groups of three people to have coverage over our shifts. 

“One of the most important things was having the operators learn how to change the knives and the cutting sticks.”

Cutting sticks are a plastic anvil that the knife cuts into. They are used eight times by rotating the sticks before changing to a fresh one.

The biggest change in working practices hasn’t come in the bindery but in the pre-press department, to ensure all jobs have a barcode in a waste area of the book to enable the machine to set itself up.

“The barcode is used to set the machine up – everything runs from the head trim and the barcode is imposed to be in an area of waste,” he says.

When it comes to how it performs 4edge is without complaint and is pleasantly surprised that the quoted specs are actually achieved day-to-day.

“You really can do 2,000 books per hour, we run it at that speed for everything apart from very thick books,” he says. “It does exactly what it says it does,” he says. 

Personnel requirements

While the way of working has changed slightly there has been no change to the number of operators needed in the cutting department. 

“We still need to have two people to operate it, one to feed and one to take off. Previously the two Horizon machines each needed one operator each.”

It’s been great, it has made everything quicker and easier

So far the service the firm has received has been spot on, albeit there’s not much to base that on, in itself a positive sign.

We’re only nine months in, so there’s not a lot to report. It had the planned six monthly check up and all was fine.”

It’s got remote diagnostics on board so that an engineer can log on remotely.

“We’ve not needed it yet, so I can’t say how long a problem would take to fix,” he says.

Greg Bird, sales manager for northern Europe at Muller Martini, said he was delighted with the success of the 4edge installation. “There’s a misconception that Muller Martini is only producing huge machines for big printers producing runs of hundreds of thousands. In fact, we’re now dealing with digital printers like 4edge, who have gone with us for the technology and the ROI it delivers for their business.” 

Overall the InfiniTrim has proved to be a great addition to the factory and one that Green is very happy with.

“It suits our needs. The best thing about it is the barcode system, which makes the set up so simple. 

“It can comfortably handle trimming 1,500-2,000 books per hour across double shifts, which means that our trimming capacity can keep up with the rest of the factory. I don’t need another one but I would recommend it. It wasn’t the cheapest machine we looked at but I consider it to be future proof.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Mechanical speed 2,000 cycles per hour

Untrimmed product size Min 106x105mm Max 360x320mm

Trimmed product size Min 100x100mm Max 350x310mm

Book thickness 1-65mm

Price £360,000-£375,000 depending on specification

Contact Muller Martini 0844 875 4590 www.mullermartini.com


Company profile 

4edge was set up in 2003 to produce book and journal publishers back lists using a combination of cutting edge finishing and digital printing kit.

Core products offered are high-quality short-run books and journals with a clientele consisting of publishers of all shapes and sizes. 

“We produce back, mid and front lists for publishers,” says co founder and managing director David Button. “We focus on the small to mid-sized publishers.

Based in Essex it employs 22 staff, four of which joined through the BPIF apprenticeship scheme. 

In addition to the Muller Martini InfiniTrim the firm has a Horizon perfect binder, Duplo saddle-stitcher and Océ VarioPrint, Canon ImagePress and Konica Minolta Bizhub digital presses.

Why it was bought... 

“We’d gone onto double days from a single shift and the two Horizons [HT30C single knife trimmers] just weren’t keeping up with demand,” says finishing supervisor Paul Green.

How it has performed...

“The barcode system makes the setup so simple,” says Green. “It can comfortably handle trimming 1,500-2,000 books per hour across double shifts, which means that our trimming capacity can keep up with the rest of the factory. It wasn’t the cheapest machine we looked at but I consider it to be future proof.”

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