Bindery Blog

Thoughts about the graphic arts industry and the world at large.

Binders, Printers, and Businessmen

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My father did a lot of business with a bindery owner who would buy a machine for a particular job and then sell it back to my Dad. Sometimes the same machine would change hands a few times. He didn’t care, the cost of the machine was built into the job and no matter how much he spent, sending out the job would have cost more.

One bindery owner I know is a very savvy businessman. You walk into his shop and you see fairly new equipment, well maintained and clean. Another bindery owner in the same area has a shop with, let’s say, less than optimal equipment. He has a Sickinger wire binder that is about 25 years old. The problem is that it is a very slow wire binder. It produces about 200 books per hour. Almost every other wire binder on the market can double or triple this output, but let’s just say double. So if he averages 100,000 books per year, he could have saved over 200 man hours (assuming he uses two people including material handling) per year he would have saved at least 3,000 man hours in the past fifteen years. If he pays his people $15 per hour, he would have saved a minimum of $45,000. This doesn’t count insurance, workman’s comp, or overhead. So how much did he save by having a less than Sterling Wire Binding Machine in the long run?

I once told a bindery owner in California that if he made his own plastic coil he would save $100,000 per year and the machine at that time only cost $28,000. His reply to me was; “I’m not so much interested in saving money as making money.”

Even though times are tough right now I hear about companies outsourcing hundreds of thousands of dollars in binding services per year when they can bring the machinery in to do it in-house for less than $100,000. There are also may printers and binders binding their work manually. Does this make sense in an age where other manufacturers are using robotics?

New bindery systems are light-years faster and more efficient than older ones, and they can produce both high-quality, long- and short-run work with much less labor.

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