Touchless workflow is an integral building block of Muller Martini’s Finishing 4.0 engineering and design philosophy. It provides the intelligence to help speed the processing of products that are printed traditionally, digitally, or in combination.
Recently, I visited our factory in Germany to conduct a series of touchless workflow trials on hardcover finishing. The production consisted of running two books in a batch with varying formats. The books were flat-back without headbands. Utilizing Muller Martini’s Diamant, the trial then simulated a touchless workflow based on client-specific data (e.g., format, print run, job parameters, etc.) which had been pre-loaded into our factory’s system.
The Diamant’s servo technology enabled the line to changeover automatically in what’s called a “sequential changeover.” As soon as books cleared the first portion of the line, that line began to setup for the next job because it was programmed to do so. This allowed the operator to keep flowing through changeovers without stopping production.
In the trial, we witnessed periods of extremely efficient touchless workflow hardcover production that can significantly automate an operation and improve throughput.
Depending on your specific capabilities and job parameters, there are several ways to achieve a touchless workflow in hardcover production, including:
- Template-based. If you process a limited number of formats (for example, photobooks that have standard trim sizes), you can utilize a simple barcode scan on the first book block or case to embed the proper template. It’s a relatively simple touchless workflow solution, independent of a server.
- Server-based. At the factory trial, Muller Martini created a job run list that included the format data. We then simulated downloading that information from a server. In the real world, an FTP connection to the customer’s MIS system would scan the first pages of the job and grab from the server all of the relevant format data. In theory, this process would travel outside our system and go to the client’s system to pull and load information for job setup. That may sound a little arduous, but it’s actually done very, very quickly.
An important benefit of a server-based workflow is that information can be garnered and analyzed after the job is run. Because job parameters are embedded within the customer’s MIS, critical data can be captured and fed back to reveal highly specific outcomes; for instance, Batch #6 only ran 11 books instead of 12. What’s more, you can determine at what point on the line a bottleneck occurred—and rectify the issue during production.
- Connex. For customers that may not have a sophisticated MIS system, Muller Martini’s Connex helps manage and supplement the information flow. And, Connex Info 4.0 provides highly granular information about the performance of the line, capturing such data as stops, delays, and run times.
Ultimately, what this particular trial showed is that touchless workflow clearly improves the efficiency of ultra-short hardcover on demand digital production. And, it can be achieved by having job data either downloaded from the customer’s server or preloaded by a template.