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Providing inline finishing capabilities lets you increase your profit margins on print jobs, whilst at the same time shortening your own production times, reducing labour costs, improving quality control, cutting back on waste and saving energy.
Traditionally viewed as an afterthought and production bottleneck, finishing is now being viewed as a critical stage in production and a way to differentiate products and create added value. It is not unusual for finishing to generate as much as 40% of production costs, and for poor quality control at this stage to destroy a great deal of added value.
With updates in digital production technology, SME printers have woken up to the fact that investing relatively modest sums in finishing equipment can lead to significant productivity improvements and reduce costs. Results from a recent drupe global trend report show that 48% of respondents were planning to invest in finishing equipment, and 40% are investing to drive efficiency improvements.
These are all about automation, making in-line and near-line equipment critical, but sometimes an offline approach will be more applicable.
So how should you be investing? In inline finishing, the press and inline finishing equipment are directly connected and closely integrated using front-end management controls. This is the solution for you if you produce a defined range of products in standard formats such as stitched booklets, reports, calendars and book blocks. The overall productivity of a digital press with in-line finishing capability is determined by the speed and efficiency of the finishing components, so it is essential that these don’t detract from the rated speed of the digital press.
An offline finishing workflow is more common when a printer has a range of digital and offset equipment, but this increases labour costs. Sometimes the higher speed of off-line finishing equipment will more than compensate for the increased operator invention. It all depends on the type and quantity of jobs you need to finish.
In contrast to in-line and off-line, near-line offers greater flexibility. There is no physical connection between equipment in this case, but the finishing line knows the requirements of each job, from OMR (optical mark recognition) technology or from a direct interface with the press’s print server, through JDF. This enables the finishing line to manage the printed output from a variety of presses and create an audit trail, which is critical to personalized products like mailshots or transactional documents.
Choosing the right finishing workflow will depend on understanding not only your workload, but also how you can apply different finishing solutions to improve efficiencies and add value through new products. However one major benefit that has been largely overlooked by the printer and has not been sold effectively to the customer is inline finishing.
Inline finishing is the process of bringing services such as folding, saddle stitching, side stitching, case binding, punching and other post-processes in-line, so they are accomplished at the same time as the printing. A wide array of finishing equipment is now available to be connected directly to digital production printers to achieve this,
Providing these services in-line not only saves on labour costs; it also prevents missing pages, imperfect collation, and other common mishaps. It makes printing extremely small lots possible – even a single copy – and extends the range of just-in-time services from fliers to catalogues, manuals and other high page-count projects.
Inline finishing in the print industry gives you benefits including:
Inline Finishing means your customers will benefit from already-finished print products, shorter production deadlines for more complex print products and a ‘one-stop shop’ offering everything from a single source.
For smaller printers and in-house print departments, reducing the amount of work that is outsourced gives greater production flexibility and control. (A good example of this are W2P systems, providing a steady but unpredictable flow of digital short run on-demand jobs, which cannot be outsourced and have to be completed in-house.)
Essentially, the more aspects of a print job you can control internally and offer on-demand, the greater your growth will be and the more customer loyalty you will generate.
Your company will also benefit directly in a range of other ways, including:
Increased profit margins
The ability to offer all-in-one print solutions
Fewer machine setups
Greater flexibility in production
Improved Quality Control
Lower Labour Costs
Shorter Production Times
In combination with Konica Minolta’s production printing systems, the GBC PUNCH G2 allows producing perfectly printed, punched and ready-to-bind documents in one easy step.
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Do you think Inline Finishing might be right for your company? To chat about how our joined-up software and hardware solutions could be meeting your needs, click on Contact Us, and one of our specialists will be in touch!
Offering a wide variety of finishing options in one print run significantly increases profits and cuts production time
Skysat Technologies is a Nigerian-based company that operates a chain of quick printing shops throughout the country. Just five years ago, the first “copy shop” opened in Lagos, offering a wide variety of digital print services, including brochures, business cards, reports, mailings and presentations.
As the business grew, more shops were opened and new print services added, including photo products and even producing some magazines and books on demand.
Initially, the finishing of all the printed documents was outsourced. However, it became clear that this was causing a hit on the print job profit margins, seriously increasing production and delivery times and creating logistical problems. Experiments with several types of stand-alone finishing equipment produced some improvement, but proved time-consuming and difficult to service.
Skysat spoke to Konica Minolta and learned about the inline finishing options available on the bizhub presses, when the finishing device is connected directly to the press. Tests proved successful, and a decision was taken to install a colour press with one of the most versatile inline finishing units connected to it.
The inline finishing solution has been instrumental to the growth of the Skysat chain of quick printers. The growth of our business has allowed us to expand; we are now operating four different shops, and plan to open three new shops by the end of this year. Without the inline finishing options, we would not have been able to offer such a wide variety of digital quick print services!
“This solution took away all our headaches,” says Izzat Debs, Managing Director at Skysat. “It is an ‘all-in-one’ solution that saves us a lot of time and eliminates the logistical hassle. Sometimes a customer can simply wait for the job to be done. On top of that, it has allowed us to maximize our profit margins on each job, because we can charge for each finishing requirement separately even though we can produce automatically in the same print run.” Mr. Debs concludes: “Even in a country like Nigeria, where labour is cheap, we have seen that inline finishing is the quickest and most cost-effective solution compared to using offline devices.”
“The inline finishing solution has been instrumental to the growth in the Skysat chain of quick printers” continues Debs. “The growth of our business has allowed us to expand. We are now operating four different shops and plan to open three new shops by the end of this year. Without the inline finishing options, we would not have been able to offer such a wide variety of digital quick print services!”
Differentiate your product hugely and create stronger customer loyalty with our easy to use inline finishing tools. Get in touch with our experts today.
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