What comprises a quality saddle-stitched product? Today’s automated quality control systems ensure customer-saving results.

When I was a young bindery manager, a customer service representative handed me a stack of books, all with signatures in the wrong order. Naturally, the rep was upset. The order was for an important customer—and the books had been delivered to their office.

I then surveyed the skids of work in my bindery, some in logs, some in piles, some identified only by a handwritten sheet of paper. What’s more, all were being fed into pockets by temporary labor. This got me thinking about what criteria should be used to measure the quality of books coming off my stitcher.

As a representative for Muller Martini for more than twenty years, today I speak with customers all the time about ways to measure the quality of a saddle stitched book, including:

  • Book construction. Are all the signatures in the right order and in the right orientation? Are they from the correct job?
  • Book alignment. Did all the sheets register against the chain pin to ensure no images are trimmed and crossover images are in specification?
  • Stitch quality. Are the correct number of stitches in every book, and is the wire thickness appropriate to the product requirements?
  • Format and trim quality. Is every book cut to the correct size and the images properly centered on the finished book?

Back in the day you relied on a “helper” to check for these attributes. But today’s jobs are coming too quickly for even the most trained and dedicated employee to perform this function. What’s more, customers are no longer satisfied with 99.9% good books. They expect the entire job to be correct.

How can your bindery reliably manage these demanding expectations? Modern saddle stitching systems provide features that automatically examine every book for every attribute, and prevent bad books from getting to the stitcher, trimmer, and delivery. These quality control systems include:

  • Signature Recognition. This validates the correct job has been loaded and ensures that every signature is in the correct order and orientation.
  • Downstream Inhibit. After a signature feeding fault, this feature prevents good work from being added to a miss-collated or incomplete book.
  • Oblique Sheet Monitors. Prevents “hangers” and sheets not registered to the pins from reaching the stitcher and trimmer.
  • Ridge and Side Calipers. These measure the book thickness to ensure the correct number of signatures has arrived at the stitcher.
  • Stitch Monitors. Assures every book has the correct number of stitches.

New saddle stitching machines perform these checks—on every single book. If I had had these systems as a young bindery manager, I would have slept a lot better at night.

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