Andi 4.0 – Welcome to the World of Innovative Digital Printing
With digital on-demand products increasing in importance, Andi Druk in the Dutch city of Maastricht is now using the world’s first integrated inline solution involving a Canon color digital printing press and three Muller Martini print finishing systems.
“Think paper is dead? – Ha ha ha, forget it!” With a touch of Dutch humor, that slogan featuring on a large poster inside the company’s foyer signals to guests that they are entering an innovative graphic arts world.
Andi Druk did in fact make one of the most decisive steps in the company's 90-year history a few months ago. “As a company that’s always been innovative, we commissioned our first digital sheet-fed press back in 2004,” note Frits Keulen and Dave Kremer. “But now the speed and quality of inkjet printing presses have increased. In addition, inline connectivity with print finishing systems enables a seamless workflow. And, finally, short-run print products are becoming more variable and more personalized.”
The Andi team with the two co-owners Frits Keulen (4th from left) und Dave Kremer (2nd from left) and Enno Smid (right), Sales Manager of Muller Martini Benelux.
According to the company’s two co-owners and directors, last year’s drupa in general and, more specifically, Muller Martini’s fully connected machine line-up (“that’s also what we’re aiming for”) showed “the direction our industry is moving in”. In addition, after years of uncertainty in the industry, we’re sensing a mood of optimism, which is why we believe it’s now time to invest in the future. It’s time for Andi 4.0.”
Following an extensive evaluation process involving seven people, Andi Druk, which has 50 employees, opted for an integrated inline solution – a world premiere in that configuration – to meet its needs in digital softcover and saddle-stitching production. It consists of a digital Canon Océ ColorStream 3900 inkjet web printing press, which prints at four speeds (48/75/100/127 meters per minute), and a digital SigmaLine inline book block production line, an inline Vareo perfect binder and an inline Presto II Digital saddle stitcher (see box).
One reason why the company chose an all-in-one Muller Martini solution is that “Muller Martini has been our print finishing partner for many years and is successful in the field of innovative digital solutions,” says Works Manager Frank Alofs. In addition, Connex was a key factor because, just like the three Muller Martini systems, the printing press is integrated with the variable Connex data and process management system. “The machines have to be able to communicate with one another. That’s why the workflow system, which is indispensable for automation, is just as important as the individual machines, especially when it comes to our products for medical devices because we have to have a zero-error rate,” emphasizes Frank Alofs.
Alongside government bodies, educational institutions, the healthcare system, the art world and many other fields of industry, the medical devices industry is Andi Druk’s most important customer base (and is becoming even more so). The company produces magazines, books, manuals, operating instructions and brochures in run sizes of 50 to 10,000 copies. Often those are different versions of the same title in up to 25 different languages.
Currently, offset and digital jobs account for similar proportions of the print volume at Andi Druk, which now has a digital web printing press and three digital sheet-fed presses. However, Frits Keulen expects digital jobs to approach 75 percent of the volume within three to five years. By comparison, three years ago, digital jobs accounted for just 25 percent of the total print volume.
All the jobs are performed on-demand, often within just two hours. “The future belongs to those with expertise in handling data,” says Frits Keulen, underlining one of the key aspects of the company’s approach. Some 80 percent of customers now order via the company’s portal. “Nevertheless, true to the motto of ‘Know your customer behind the portal’, we’re regularly in personal contact with them since we offer individual rather than standard solutions,” says Frits Keulen. “That includes managing the stock levels of individual customers with the aid of automatic notifications.”
From the SigmaLine, the paper enters the Vareo perfect binder or the Presto II Digital saddle stitcher (see picture).
The Epitome of Finishing 4.0
Thanks to its new integrated inline system, Andi Druk’s production is touchless and barcode-driven from the roll to the finished product. “Our innovative solution makes the company unique in the Netherlands and even the whole of Western Europe,” note the two co-owners Frits Keulen and Dave Kremer with pride.
From the Océ ColorStream 3900, the paper web enters the SigmaFolder, where it is processed into individual signatures.
Afterwards the folded signatures are gathered into book blocks in the SigmaCollator. The book blocks are then transported inline on a belt to the Vareo perfect binder with automatic loading, a PUR nozzle (PUR binding is a requirement in some countries where Andi Druk is hoping to increase its sales), glue application monitoring, barcode matching (to ensure the book block and cover match perfectly), and a cooling section, and to the Granit three-knife trimmer, which is likewise directly connected via a belt.
Alternatively, the paper web is processed into signatures in the SigmaFolder and enters the Presto II Digital saddle stitcher, which is used exclusively for digitally printed products and features a cover folder feeder, via a cross carrier table and a processing folder.
Thanks to integration of the Connex data and process management system, Muller Martini’s three systems ensures a seamless, touchless print finishing workflow that epitomizes Muller Martini’s key drupa topic of Finishing 4.0.
The whole line is handled by a single machine operator. In addition, there are two staff members in charge of packaging. “We used to need five to six people for this production process,” says Works Manager Frank Alofs. “That naturally also increased the potential sources of error. Today, thanks to our barcode-driven, touchless workflow, the process is not only error-free but also just-in-time. All jobs are delivered with the exact number of copies required. A customer that orders 100 brochures receives precisely 100 brochures.