When publisher and book distribution business John Wiley approached CPI Books for ideas on how it might better manage its print production requirements, the printer jumped at the idea. It could produce long run litho titles at traditional print sites, it could manage short runs through Anthony Rowe and digital print. And it would invest in a zero inventory production set up inside Wiley’s warehouse in Bognor Regis.
The strategy would enable Wiley to gain the economies of scale through offset printing, manage reducing demand after the initial surge through inkjet print and keep titles in print without having to fill shelves of warehouse space with minimal copies of books where sales are sporadic as best. With a zero inventory model, there is no cash tied up in these stocks and no almost empty shelf space to pay for because the printed book exists only in virtual form. That changes when an order is booked. At that point the PDF is pulled from the database, the book is printed and bound for shipping to a customer in the same time frame as a book taken from the warehouse shelf.
It is an approach that requires automation, and while applying now to book publishing, will have applications across vast swathes of the print production sector in coming years. For CPI Books zero inventory production is now a reality.
The company has installed a Canon ColorStream 6700 continuous feed inkjet press, Hunkeler Bookline, Horizon BQ500 perfect binder and HT1000V three-knife trimmer with a Canon VP 10100 cut sheet press for printing covers.
The equipment is located in the site’s sortation hall, the point at which customer orders are brought together before shipping. Books might be pulled from shelves, whether digitally or litho printed, or printed specifically for that customer on that day. An order received one day will be sent out the next day. That is the pressure that CPI Books faces, regardless of whether the order is for a bookshop, library or an individual. This is why CPI Books has put together the combination of equipment that it has.
“The Canon has a smaller footprint and produces less waste at start up than the HP T series presses,” says Martin Collyer, divisional general manager at CPI Antony Rowe, the CPI Books digital division. The inks on the Canon are “much better than the previous generation” says Collyer.
While there is HP T series technology at plants in Wiltshire, there is also a Canon set up at the Eastbourne plant, which is close to the Gardiner book distribution business. But while the print technology exists in the UK, the Bognor Regis site is the first Hunkeler for CPI Books. And it is also a first for the combination of Hunkeler and Horizon binding.
“We have Hunkeler equipment at our factory in Ulm in Germany,” says Collyer. “And we looked at other options that were available. For this new operation we liked the speed and accuracy of the Hunkeler.”
The Bookline it has installed runs up to 200m/minute, faster than the speed of the press. The difference in speed is one reason why finishing is not inline to printing. “We take a best of breed approach,” Collyer continues. And for this particular operation, the approach pointed to Canon and Hunkeler/Horizon.
The ColorStream runs roll to roll with the printed reel taken into the Hunkeler Bookline, which has Dynacut to switch instantly from one size of book to another. The folded and gathered sections are collected as book blocks to be married with the appropriate cover and into the binder and then the trimmer.
The Wiley operation includes third party contracts for other publishers. The digital versions are held as PDFs which can be called from the database by CPI’s production software. This is triggered by an order which uses the book’s ISBN to identify it and the number that needs to be delivered.
For a popular book under a Wiley imprint or for the third party publisher, the order can be fulfilled from stock. For a long tail title, a special interest book or one that is no longer in heavy demand, CPI will print on demand.
This is the zero inventory model which cuts the risk of having inventory unsold when running short runs or long runs that are left on the shelf. “For the publisher it means that there is less cash tied up in stock, so rather than print 1,000 copies we can split that to print five batches of 200 copies,” Collyer says.
The choice of technology fell to Collyer. The press stands almost on its own. Barcodes printed on the reel identify the job and settings needed for the Hunkeler to identify the start and finish of the book block and the four or six-page signatures the Bookline handles. The workflow software aims to batch jobs into the different signatures available and into mono only and colour books to minimise the adjustments and set ups needed on the Colorstream. The same barcode data is used to set the Hunkeler Dynacut system which adjusts for the final size of the book and avoids excess paper waste.