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Need To Know

Feeding and Collating

Critical components in many print production setups, Rob Fletcher takes a look at the latest developments and advancements with feeding and collating technologies

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Appetite for success

‘Automation’ has been a major buzzword in the industry for a number of years now, with manufacturers and suppliers alike waxing lyrical about the advantages this offers to print-service-providers (PSPs) of all shapes and sizes.

One area that has benefitted significantly from advancements in automation is feeding and collating, with improvements to this technology helping users make substantial savings in terms of time and costs across their business.

With this in mind, we take a look at some of the latest solutions on offer in this market and how they will help PSPs become more efficient across their production setup.

Highly responsive

Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) offers a range of machinery within this market, with its managing director, Eric Keane, saying that the latest systems will offer greater automation as well as faster and easier set up for maximum uptime and increased production capacity.

“While these highly responsive solutions may require more of a financial commitment, smoother set up cuts makeready time,” Keane explains, adding: “ROI [return on investment] is also considerably improved by the ability to quickly complete a greater variety of jobs in terms of product range and run lengths.

“The latest automated solutions help operations maximise production capacity and eliminate bottlenecks. By not upgrading, printers may struggle to manage the increasingly diverse jobs they are being asked to run. With run lengths getting shorter, makeready times need to be faster to maximise profitable production.

The latest automated solutions help operations maximise production capacity and eliminate bottlenecks

“Horizon’s simple and intuitive set-up and control interface enables operators to produce high quality results quickly and efficiently. Those with more than one Horizon system will immediately feel at home thanks to its universal icon-based commands and simple navigation fields. Those operating one for the first time will quickly get to grips with its easy-to-navigate prompts.”

With this, Keane draws attention to the latest additions to the collator family in the form of the new VAC-L600H six-bin and VAC-L1000 10-bin air suction collators that he says allow for expanded paper size capacity – up to 610mm in length – to produce A4 landscape booklets efficiently.

Available from IFS, the Horizon VAC-L1000 offers expanded paper size capacity for up to 610mm

“Ideal companions for the Horizon SPF-200L bookletmaker and Horizon StitchLiner MKIII, they feature improved feeding performance supported by individual blowing mechanisms for each bin and an improved air flow and reliable suction rotor feeding system,” Keane says.

“Flexible paper handling is enabled by various controls such as overlap adjustment, speed adjustment and suction and blower levels. Energy savings compared to the previous model are offered too - decreased to 1.6kW representing a saving of about 30%.”

IFS also offers the Horizon VAC-1000/VAC-600H, both of which incorporate Horizon’s unique feeding technology and can be placed in-line with Horizon bookletmaking systems. There is also a high-power double feed detect sensor and an image checking system for the VAC-600H that checks the printed image of each page on each feed cycle.

Meanwhile, the VAC-80S feeds sheets up to B3 on the long edge so the sheet is not turned in the production train, allowing greater stability and increased operating speeds, while the Horizon ST-40 / ST-60 delivers high-speed stacking to enhance collating performance and serves as a high-capacity offset or straight stacking device.
In addition, the Horizon HOF-400 high speed offline feeder feeds digitally printed sheets and transports the sheets to the next process, while the Horizon Cover Feeder CF-400 merges the cover sheets into the sheets fed from the HOF-400, with a maximum pile height of 200mm.

Taking advantage

Elsewhere and Ray Hillhouse, vice president of sales and marketing for the Plockmatic Group Offline Business Unit, owner of Morgana Systems, says that with all investments, the purchase of feeders and collators is all about efficiency and productivity.

“Systems from five years ago simply were not created with today’s print engines in mind and would therefore struggle to keep pace with the speeds required by today’s printers and their customers,” Hillhouse says, adding: “Automated bookletmaking has come a long way in that time, and print producers need to take advantage of such equipment.

“Developments in this sector haven’t stood still. For us, operating almost exclusively with digital print, the demand for collators has dropped significantly and we are focusing our attention on feeding technology designed specifically for pre-collated digitally produced sets, as this is what the modern engine is more than capable of producing.

“The key things here are ease of set-up and set integrity. We are seeing more demand for control of the pre-collated sets, especially where there is variable data, so error detection and set integrity are very important.”

Hillhouse goes on to highlight some of the new developments from Morgana, which include the advances incorporated into the Morgana VFX vacuum feeder, aimed at integrating with Morgana’s production BM3035, BM3050, BM5035 and BM5050 automated bookletmaking systems, as well as the PowerSquare 160 and PowerSquare 224 high capacity bookletmaking systems.

The Morgana VFX is a high-capacity vacuum feeder capable of efficiently feeding a wide range of paper types and weights, at up to 15,000 sheets per hour and is equipped with an automated vacuum feed technology designed to handle a wide range of pre-printed media.

O Factoid: The Morgana VFX high-capacity vacuum feeder can feed a wide range of paper types and weights at speeds of up to 15,000 sheets per hour O

However, the main feature of the Morgana VFX is the two loading trays. Each tray is equipped with vacuum feed technology and two types of double sheet detection sensors, while anti-static bars are available as options and are recommended for use in static environments or non-climate-controlled environments where humidity is low.

Each tray has a capacity of 2,700 sheets (80gsm plain paper) for a total machine capacity of 5,400 sheets, with the feeder capable of feeding stock up to 660mm long and 355mm wide.