A smooth upgrade of the perfect binding line

The Scandinavian book producer ScandBook upgrades at its site in Klaipeda, Lithuania the existing Muller Martini perfect binder Corona C12 with an Orbit three-knife trimmer, which replaces an aging Zenith. We talked to the Managing Director Paulius Juška about the challenges ScandBook is facing and their influence on upcoming investments.

ScandBook is a leading and independent partner for book publishers which is located in Sweden and a production facility in Lithuania. In addition to three perfect binders Bolero, Corona and KM 412, two hardcover booklines BF 512 and BF 530 are also in operation there. On the one hand, the company is trying to become the cost leader in the production of soft and hardcover books on the European book market and, on the other hand, to incorporate the topic of sustainability into all areas of production. Geographically well positioned in relation to suppliers and customers, permitting ScandBook short lead times and low logistics costs.
How do you react to the Corona crisis and has your strategy changed as a result?
Paulius Juška: Corona crisis has a global effect on the world economies. Leading think tanks are trying to estimate the effects and to propose the counter measures to mitigate the long-term consequences to people’s lives and to economies. ScandBook has understood early enough the potential damage that virus spread can do – locally within the walls of the printing house and regionally with the changes of client preferences and potential disruptions of logistic chains. We were prepared with internal regulations and actions to protect our employees. In warehouse we had a safe buffer of production materials stock. And we had timely and good communication with our clients. Not to the least – we felt confident about our machinery pool and timely technical expert support from Müller Martini and other partners.

«We are carefully optimistic about the book market today and in the near future. People are tired from the screens they want some comfort of reading paper books.»
Paulius Juška
How do you see the book market developing in 2021 and how are your customers reacting to it?
We are carefully optimistic about the book market today and in the near future. People are tired from the screens they want some comfort of reading paper books. It is also true that books have therapy effects – reading brings you to the other magnificent worlds of imagination and helps you to cope with today’s realities.
In which markets is ScandBook active today and are there expansion plans to open-up further European markets?
We are very happy to have continuously strong performance in Scandinavian markets. The possibility to produce books for the US market has been a fantastic new opportunity for us and it is exciting to see it continuing in the future.
What trends are you currently involved in and how are you adapting your company to them?
Even in the most challenging days of 2020 we tried to stick to our commitments against publishers and perform in line with the best service levels that they are used to. Publishers are in the middle of a very volatile market conditions and it is our obligation to be ready to help with everything that we can. Careful approach of short print runs is sometimes followed with a need of quick re-prints. We must be flexible.
Small print runs in general have increased a lot. What is a short run for you?
We are careful with the print runs below 800 copies, but 500+ copies’ orders have been quite increasing recently as well.
Can you tell us something about the ratio of soft and hard covers in production?
We are focused on black and white book production. More than two third are paperbacks, the rest are hardback books.
Are you active in digital printing in addition to offset printing?
Group company ScandBook AB in Falun, Sweden has a profile dedicated to digital printing. It successfully operates in a small-medium print-runs market. In Klaipeda’s ScandBook we are considering starting digital printing of book covers and jackets for the small print-run jobs.
What challenges do you face in the area of finishing?
Flexibility and speed are the key terms. You need to be flexible within different formats and you must be quick with the print runs becoming shorter.
You have a considerable machine park for soft and hard cover production at the Klaipeda site. Can you tell us what quantities of books you produce per day at the Klaipeda site alone?

Well, in 2020 we produced 100’000 to 150’000 books per day. It was quite an active year despite of all the challenges.
How do short runs fit into such a production environment and what are the consequences?

Short print runs require quick make-ready setup operations. Some older machinery is not designed for that therefore we need to look for the improvements or replacements when it is necessary.
You are currently modernising the Corona C12 perfect binding line. The first step is to install an Orbit three-knife trimmer. What do you expect from this step and what are the advantages of the new three-knife trimmer?
The three-knife trimmer is a heavy-duty element in the perfect binding line that works under biggest pressures. It is making the final cuts before the book blocks are stacked and its performance must be unquestionably perfect. It is also the place where you can lose time on make-ready set-ups. The Orbit will add operational speed and will ensure continuous perfect trimming function in the future.
«The Orbit will add operational speed and will ensure continuous perfect trimming function in the future.»
Paulius Juška
Why did you decide on a step-by-step modernisation and what is planned for the second step?
An approach of a gradual modernization is based on a fact that different elements in the perfect binding line have different wearing grades. It is important to ensure synchronization between «old» and the «new» elements there, but we trust Müller Martini that the company will ensure a smooth upgrade action.
What productivity increases do you expect after completion of the project and are there any further investment plans in print finishing?
With the new Orbit we expect a substantial increase of make-ready efficiency. The further steps in print finishing equipment investments are linked to the potential options of digital and offset print decisions that ScandBook will make in the future.

Paulius Juška: «Kleine Druckauflagen erfordern schnelle Rüstvorgänge. Einige ältere Maschinen sind dafür nicht ausgelegt, deshalb müssen wir nach Optimierungsmöglichkeiten oder Ersatzinvestitionen suchen.»
Der Dreischneider Orbit wird die Produktivität bei ScandBook erhöhen und eine kontinuierliche, perfekte Schnittqualität gewährleisten.