Bell & Bain has embarked upon a multimillion-pound investment programme, including the first Horizon Smart Binding System in Europe and a new KBA Rapida 145 large-format litho press.
The Glasgow book printer is boosting its digital capabilities with the Horizon system, having seen it in action at the Hunkeler Innovationdays earlier this year.
The modular system will run inline with Bell & Bain’s Fujifilm Jet Press 540W inkjet web press to create a digital book production line. The binder can produce perfect-bound books of varying format and size, and is configured with a Tecnau buffer, cutter, stacker and feeder.
It can produce up to 4,000bph. Features include automatic cover and book block matching, with three-knife trimming of variable sizes controlled by barcodes on the cover.
Bell & Bain managing director Stephen Docherty said installation would begin next week at the firm’s 2,800sqm digital book factory in Lawmoor Street. It will replace a 10-year-old Muller Martini Sigma line.
The firm has revamped the site, which was its former paper store. It moved case binding and jacketing to the facility, and has now invested some £2.5m including the relocation of the Jet Press from its main 3,000sqm production site at Thornliebank, and the new binding line.
“I’ve been looking at Horizon for 20 years and thinking ‘that’s very impressive’, and now I’ve actually got one.” Docherty said.
“It’s extremely flexible. We will run it totally inline as a one- or two-man operation, but can add hoppers to use it conventionally if we wish to, as well.”
The system will be installed and supported by Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS). Technical sales director Jason Seaber said the binder “set a new standard” in short- to medium-run book production. "It's very exciting. This is a customised solution for Bell & Bain, and it's a really nice configuration. They can go from white paper in to a perfect-bound book without human intervention, and they can still process cut-sheet digital if they want to," he explained. "It's a modern, digital version of a familiar process."
Seaber said he believed it was the first book binding solution running inline with a colour inkjet web press.
Separately, Bell & Bain’s new KBA Rapida 145 will be installed in spring 2016. The highly specified four-back-four perfector includes simultaneous plate changing, QualiTronic ColorControl inline colour measuring system, and KBA’s SLF sidelay-free infeed. It has a maximum sheet size of 1,060x1,450mm and can perfect at up to 15,000sph.
“We were overloaded and for the first time found we couldn’t print enough,” Docherty explained. “We needed to get another press, and we went to see the 145 running the same papers and impositions as we run.
“The speed is phenomenal and my jaw dropped at the turnaround from one job to another. We’re constantly making ready so that’s the big thing for us. This is pretty game-changing for Bell & Bain.”
The press cost in excess of £3m, and will join the firm’s existing litho set-up, which includes eight- and four-colour Rapida 142 perfectors, a four-colour Rapida 75 and a Speedmaster SM 52 Anicolor.
“It will be additional to the existing presses, although we might take the two-back-two 142 out eventually,” Docherty added.
KBA UK managing director Andy Pang said: “We’re obviously delighted with this order and it’s great to see a UK book printer doing so well. Book printing is close to my heart because it’s where I came from. It’s good that Bell & Bain have seen the advantages and benefits of a modern, high-productivity press.”
Bell & Bain produces books and journals for academic publishers. The firm employs 107 staff and has sales of around £12.5m. The firm has grown significantly since the MBO at the business in 2009, when sales were circa £8m.