When Dayne Nankervis, CEO of leading trade printer CMYKhub, surveys the new Horizon binding line at his company’s West Heidelberg premises, it’s not only with a sense of professional excitement at its potential but also the feeling that it is symbolic of a ‘full circle’ moment.
Dayne, his siblings and cousins, spent many childhood hours sorting and collating book sections in the bindery at Impact Printing, a pioneering Melbourne print shop owned and run by Dayne’s father, Garry, and Garry’s brothers Greg and Ray.
“In particular, when school yearbooks started to come in around October each year, it was all hands on deck,” Dayne recalls.
Fast forward to November 2022, and Dayne – together with family members and most of his executive team – found themselves once again in the bindery hand collating yearbooks, “and not doing it very efficiently,” he says wryly.
“When a job comes in over a Web2Print service like ours, it’s difficult to say no, but the truth is that we were not really geared up to do book work efficiently or profitably.
“Occasionally, we would turn down a job at quoting stage because it simply wasn’t feasible, or we’d outsource the finishing – but that added time and cost to the job. More often, we would say yes, then find ourselves on the factory floor at nights and on weekend to meet the commitment.”
It’s the kind of dilemma, ironically, that CMYKhub exists to solve.
“Print is a very diverse sector, but not every print business is equipped to produce every printed product,” Dayne points out. “That’s where CMYKhub comes in – we invest so our resellers can offer the widest possible range of solutions to their customers.”
This ethos had seen CMYKhub grow into a diverse operation which offers everything from business cards and flyers, to commercial digital and offset jobs, wide-format sign and display solutions, and most recently labels. As a trade supplier, all must be supplied to the highest standards, in the shortest deadlines and at the best possible price to allow print service providers to add their own margin.
“We are continually monitoring trends to identify new ways for our resellers to grow their markets,” Dayne says. “We have grown and diversified organically over the years in response to their evolving needs, and we’ll continue to invest to support their success.”
Earlier this year, CMYKhub introduced a now-growing range of label products. Now, their sights have turned to book production, driven by a significant resurgence in demand for conventional books.
“It may seem strange in the era of the iPad and Kindle, but while there are always ebbs and flows in the annual publishing cycle we are absolutely seeing an increase in demand, particularly for short run books,” Dayne says, attributing this to the growth of self-publishing and the trend for larger publishers to print local runs of even global best-sellers on demand.
“Consumers today better understand the inherent sustainability of paper products today and appreciate that the experience of reading a physical book has real benefits. There has also been a huge resurgence of book-like products including notepads and diaries during COVID – the pandemic reminded people that print has the ability to make a powerful physical connection with absent staff and customers,” he says. “We see no sign of demand slowing.”
While CMYKhub has always technically been able to produce digital or offset books, the margins – as with most print – were tight and what little profit there may have been was quickly eaten up by the need for manual processing.
“If there’s one thing I hate, it’s inefficiency,” Dayne says grimly. “Going down to the bindery to see people hand-collating frustrated me no end.”
Eventually, with the busy end-of-year school book season looming, the company decided it was time to ‘gear up, or get out’. That’s when supplier Currie Group came up with an option too good to refuse – a hybrid Horizon binding line straight out of the showroom in Japan.
Installed in September by Currie Group engineers supported by Horizon technical specialists flown in from Japan, the new Horizon CABS4000 binding line comprises a 12-station gatherer which can handle A1 or A2 folded offset sections and a digital inserting station for pre-collated book blocks.
Once collated, sections are conveyed to a nine-clamp perfect binder which can handle both PUR and EVA glues, although CMYKhub opts for the stronger PUR finish as a default for customers. The binder can process books individually, or accumulate multiple products up to 60mm in height, before moving on to a HT-1000 variable three-knife trimming station.
Integrated weighing stations sit between sections to check for discrepancies in the collation, and a sophisticated optical inspection system with ‘auto-stop’ error detection ensures the right cover goes on the right book. In short, the system is designed to guarantee only ‘perfectly-bound books with perfectly-matched covers’ ever reach the in-built conveyor-stacker at the end of the line.
A high speed of 4000 units per hour makes this line a productive workhorse, however it’s the computer-aided binding (CAB) features which really make the difference for short-run book batches, with barcode-driven automated programming of all stations optimising set-up and job changeover times.
The new line is currently operating from a former storage area in one of the company’s West Heidelberg factories. Next year, it will be relocated with two offset presses to a brand-new factory currently under construction, forming a book production hub to service the company’s national customer base.
To ensure print capacity keeps pace with the new system, CMYKhub has lifted offset and digital production to 24 hours a day, six days a week. The intention is to streamline the system further by batch producing ‘like’ products.
“The Horizon is incredibly versatile, giving us the flexibility to choose the most efficient and profitable production method for each book project without being hampered by binding constraints,” Dayne points out.
“It will allow our resellers to support the growth of small brands and also look after larger customers by offering print-on-demand efficiencies. While the sweet spot will probably be runs between 2 – 4,000 copies, we anticipate being able to handle much shorter and much longer run lengths. Basically, we’d consider doing a single book if we can do it profitably and keep the price reasonable for our resellers.”
With the new line now in full flight producing the first of the 2023 School Yearbooks, Dayne says the company couldn’t be happier “The addition of the Horizon binding line was very much a case of the right opportunity, at the right time, and from the right people,” says Dayne, who rates the company’s partnership with Currie Group as pivotal to their success.
“Like us, Currie Group are problem-solvers. Just as we try to support our customers success, they are always looking for ways to help us grow and diversify. Up until now, we’ve really been hampered in growing book printing, but the new Horizon from Currie Group has taken the brakes off…and given us our weekends back this summer.
“Books are back, and we are going full steam ahead!”