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Service and stitchability

Nov 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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Remember the first time you used a personal computer? The confusion, the disorientation, the directions that would have made as much sense were they written in hieroglyphics? Maybe if Vijuk (Elmhurst, IL) manufactured computers, first-time computer users would have had the same success as Des Plaines Publishing Co. (DPPC) (Des Plaines, IL) has had with its installation of Vijuk’s 321-T saddlestitcher.

When DPPC added its first piece of bindery equipment in April 2005, employees went through a similar sense of production vertigo. The crew was completely new to saddlestitching, says Deane Fraser, vice president of operations. Most had not even seen a stitcher before. “Adding in-house bindery capabilities was a new thing for us, and we were concerned about training, services and parts, and particular needs we might have.”

Fraser notes that Vijuk easily put these concerns to rest with extensive training and ongoing support.

The White Sox aren’t the only ones covering all bases
DPPC began in the early 1900s as a single newspaper, The Des Plaines Times, over time adding seven more local newspapers for surrounding suburbs to its print schedule, eventually selling these in 1996. Today, the 35,000-sq.-ft. company serves more than 350 customers with a range of services, including typesetting, layout, design, CTP, non-heatset web printing and binding, with mailing and delivery being a big part of DPPC’s offerings.

With 62 full-time employees, DPPC operates a Creo Trendsetter News 100 and two presses: a nine-unit Urbanite and a four-unit HV Signature, both from Goss Intl. It also runs an inserter and two mailers from Kirk-Rudy and the Vijuk 321-T saddlestitcher. “We can take somebody from computer-to-plate to out-the-door bound and mailed,” says Fraser.

You ain’t so tough
Though DPPC specializes in newspaper publications with similar runs, the company is no stranger to the unusual job. Fraser recalls a job where the customer wanted the piece to appear torn from a newspaper. “We we took a chainsaw to the edge,” he says. “One of our employees suggested it.”

DPPC prints trade show dailies several times a year, a job that requires the company to be quick on its feet. Papers often include information and photos from the show floor, with materials arriving as late as 7 or 8 p.m. the night before and finished copy delivered by 6 a.m. the next morning.

DPPC also copes with the differing run thicknesses arising from running a variety of stock. “Any bindery will tell you the toughest thing to run in these machines is newsprint. But it’s about 50 percent of our work,” says Jerry Cuvala, distribution manager.

Saved by CTP
In-house binding has been on their minds for some time, at DPPC, but limited floor space kept plans on the back burner. The company’s move to CTP in January 2005 eliminated the camera plate department and freed up floor space for the Vijuk 321-T saddlestitcher.

“We looked at [competitive] equipment prior to that,” says Cuvala, “but the pricing on some of them was so expensive. Once we ran into Joe [Vijuk at the company’s Graph Expo 04 booth], saw the six-pocket 321-T and started talking about how it could fit our needs, we were absolutely astonished.” Fraser adds, “The selling point for us was the relationship we built with [Vijuk's] employees and the trust that we felt they would support this machine. And they have a local office in the Chicagoland area.”

No operator left behind
Still, Fraser and Cuvala were concerned about coping with an in-house postpress department. As DPPC had no previous bindery experience, it was essential that Vijuk be up to the task of training a crew that had never seen a stitcher. “We needed the reassurance that we weren’t going to just get a piece of equipment and then be hung out,” says Cuvala.

Vijuk provided written guarantees, along with several demonstrations, both at its floor and again when the equipment moved to DPPC. Cuvala relates a story of an employee who raised questions and concerns with a Vijuk technician via cell phone on his way home from work.

Training has been continuous with Vijuk. In fact, the day we spoke with DPPC, Vijuk trainers were there to demonstrate changing out knives on the machine. Fraser notes that the employees working with the 321-T improve daily, and he gives credit to the trainers from Vijuk. “To us, it’s just tremendous that we got that support. We told them exactly what we were doing and how we wanted to proceed as a bindery department, and they gave us assurances that they could take some untrained unknowns and have them run this machine. Sure enough, that’s exactly what’s going on.”

The proof is in the pudding
Fraser and Cuvala are extremely pleased with their choice. Not only is the company saving time and money in doing binding in-house, the numerous detectors on the machine help reduce waste.

Standard runs on the 321-T are 8 1/8 x 10 7/8-inch booklets running from single-pocket, 16 pages through four-pocket, 104 pages along with binding cards, inserts and covers. The machine runs 4,000 to 8,000 units per hour, averaging at 5,000 units per hour. “The ultimate goal [for us] is 7,500 to 8,000 units per hour,” says Cuvala.

Looking to the future, DPPC would like to update its current web presses and, of course, continue to grow business. The company’s goal always has been to move to three shifts—currently, it runs two.

But when it comes to handling the difficult stitching job, Cuvala is unconcerned. “We’ve got Vijuk to fall back on with any questions or concerns. Because we have that kind of support, we’re not really worried about what’s coming up.”

Carrie Cleaveland is the assistant editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at