Because the number of orders is increasing but their runs are decreasing, Beltz Grafische Betriebe GmbH in Bad Langensalza in the German state of Thuringia wants to bring more flexibility to its book sewing production.
Firstly, the Connect system from Muller Martini will be reduced by one book sewing machine from the previous three to the new two. Secondly, an older Ventura will be replaced by a new Ventura MC 160
Michael Tuchscher, Head of Project Management and Member of the Executive Board, with his book sewing team (from left Petra Heuckrodt, Petra Nachtigall, Marion Thiel, Annett Persch and Silke Jünemann) in front of a Ventura at Beltz Grafische Betriebe in Bad Langensalza.
Beltz Grafische Betriebe is regarded as a hardcover specialist, with (half-)linen, embossed and finished book covers being among the company's outstanding features. Last year, the traditional company produced 6.6 million books, 44 percent of which were hardcovers. Looking at the sales achieved, the hardcover sector – where runs per job range from 150 to 10,000 books – accounted for around 60 percent. "So the hardcover is our most important product," says Michael Tuchscher, head of project management and member of the executive board.
Sixty percent of the hardcover books produced by Beltz – with children's books, technical literature and non-fiction as the main focus – are thread-stitched. "In particular, our customers in the specialist field order thread-sewn books – the highest-quality products we supply," says Michael Tuchscher. In this context, he has noticed two trends in recent years: "Our order figures are rising significantly, while print runs are falling. For example, high-volume catalogs in particular have fallen away in recent times." Add to this the fact that Beltz used to manufacture many external orders printed out of house, but now increasingly prints and binds in-house – and thus has the entire value chain in-house.
All of this naturally has an impact on production and, in particular, on the equipment used in the bookbindery. Currently, Beltz has – in addition to two Diamant and BF 512 booklines, a Collibri gluing machine and two KM 472 and KM 600 perfect binders from Muller Martini and Kolbus – a solo machine from another manufacturer for thread sewing, as well as a Connect system with three Ventura, which originated from Muller Martini, went into operation in 2004 and is used exclusively for offset products. In other words: From a 1573 gathering machine with 30 stations, the sheets are fed by means of three Connect-linked book sewing machines.
In order to become more flexible, particularly with regard to shorter runs, Beltz will in future be using two book sewing machines alone and reducing the linked system from three to two. Beltz will replace one of the two older Ventura machines linked to Connect with a new Ventura MC 160 next August. "The new book sewing machine will make the Connect system much more efficient," emphasizes Michael Tuchscher. "The Ventura MC 160 is the ideal machine for us. It provides a very good stitching pattern, has an easy-to-understand operating philosophy and takes up very little space."