Print production is already largely automated in many print shops. However, automating the bindery part of the workflow has been overlooked by many and still requires extensive human intervention on a daily basis. The MyPoster story shows what is possible today in terms of finishing automation. Enfocus Switch, Ultimate Impostrip® and Ultimate Bindery® from Ultimate TechnoGraphics as well as the Horizon SmartStacker play important roles in this.
MyPoster is a very well-known brand when it comes to making visual products. Their core business, as their name says, is printing wide-format posters. For about two years, the company has also successfully been offering other products such as calendars, photo books, greeting cards, prints of digital photos and much more.
The products are ordered online through a web-to-print system. Buyers have a wide range of design options – from hundreds of design templates and formats to a variety of papers and the use of special colors such as varnishes.
Ingo Mannherz, Technical Product Manager at MyPoster, explains: “We manufacture ourselves every order at our locations in Bergkirchen in Bavaria or Bitterfeld in Saxony-Anhalt. This way, we can make sure at every production step that the material and quality are perfect, that we print individual formats with millimeter precision and that we offer 24hour express shipping.”
The variety of their product offering has to be managed efficiently in production and postpress. Ingo Mannherz says: “We always use the latest and best machines and sophisticated workflows to ensure the highest possible efficiency and reliability of the processes.”
In Bergkirchen, for example, they print on HP Indigo digital presses. SCODIX machines are also available on the production floor for finishing orders with special colors such as varnishes.
Horizon SmartStacker for Further Processing
For cutting the sheets and stacking the blanks, MyPoster uses a SmartStacker from Horizon, which is specially designed for the HP Indigo machines. The machine cuts B2 sheets from digital printing into individual pieces. Unprinted copies are automatically separated out. In the subsequent work step, the SmartStacker collects the pieces and stacks them according to the further processing steps. This makes it the ideal solution for the areas of application at MyPoster.
From ordering to shipping, the workflows at MyPoster are automated “to the max”. The central piece of their workflow is their ERP software developed by an internal programming team. It is referred to as a “publisher” because it “publishes” all print jobs via product-specific workflows and dedicated systems to the machines relevant to each job.
Ingo Mannherz describes the importance of the software: “It provides the entire logic, communicates with all systems and machines and receives feedback on orders status in order to initiate further production steps. Our operators no longer have to manually intervene – they usually only move paper around on the production floor when required.”
The publisher puts the jobs together in batches according to their characteristics, so that makeready times are minimized in printing and postpress. As a further optimization, the publisher collects all incoming jobs online, prepares them for production and transfers them to the subsequent systems at 3AM. This means that “the pipeline” is already full when work begins and production can begin straight away.
Cooperation between Enfocus Switch, Ultimate Impostrip® and Ultimate Bindery®
The production of the new products runs through a workflow based on Enfocus Switch, Ultimate Impostrip® and Ultimate Bindery®.
The ERP solution transfers the order data in JSON format (including a link to the print data) to Enfocus Switch, which prepares the print file. Among other things, it adds the bleed and the cutting marks, and a cover sheet is generated that contains all job-related information.
Imposition with Ultimate Impostrip®
The sheets are imposed using Ultimate Impostrip®, which has the speed required for the high throughput at MyPoster. The solution streamlines every aspect of the imposition workflow with versatile tools. At MyPoster, each job is imposed individually, gang forms are not used.
Ultimate Impostrip® also creates a file in LayCrimp format. This is a standardized output format for further processing.
Ultimate Bindery® and Horizon SmartStacker
However, the standard LayCrimp format is often not sufficient to describe the finishing requirements in detail. This is where Ultimate Bindery® comes to the rescue – the solution takes over the imposed job and provides it with all the necessary parameters that are required for the automatic setup of the machines in postpress.
An example: The Horizon SmartStacker can do a different number of cuts as required. Ultimate Bindery® creates the cutting file according to the specifications of the order. The jobs are in turn grouped so that the webs do not always have to be replaced – this reduces set-up times. Ultimate Bindery® then transfers the finished cutting file to the SmartStacker, which can then process the job automatically.
An important aspect for automation is the possibility of defining entire processing chains in which all work steps are described, from finishing to cutting and stacking.
Ingo Mannherz summarizes: “The coordinated interaction of Enfocus Switch, Ultimate Impostrip®, Ultimate Bindery® and the Horizon SmartStacker creates the degree of automation that is absolutely necessary to be able to produce the highly individualized orders of our customers in a time- and cost-efficient manner”.