Last updateTue, 16 Apr 2024 11am

First Australian Book Factory Worth the Wait

Griffin Digital waited patiently for a fully inline, automated book printing solution and is now reaping the rewards of crucial price point margins in short-run and on-demand digital book printing.

Griffin Digital, a subsidiary of Griffin Press, is Australia's leading supplier of short–run books to publishers and authors. Based in Adelaide, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and London, the company has significant expertise in short–run digital production, helping mass or niche publishers get new titles and reprints to market quickly.

Common short–run digital book orders include providing advance copies of new releases; topping up inventories economically; producing backlist, niche or out–of–print titles on demand; custom publications; reproducing import publications; producing limited–run marketing materials, research reports and training manuals in professionally finished book formats.
Griffin Digital is particularly aimed at pre–marketing and book titles that are at the end of their publishing cycle. "These are selling in numbers from a handful, to several hundred copies a year," explained Ben Jolly, General Manager of Griffin Press
The incumbent technology was not able to meet Griffins customers' target unit costs, and hence volumes through the digital business were small. This had even prompted Griffin Press to seriously consider shutting down its digital book manufacturing until a suitable technology was released.
With such short runs and intense turnarounds, the ultimate digital goal to ensure Griffin Digital's profitability was, according to Jolly, "to put paper in to one end and have a printed and finished book come out of the other end, with no labour involved."
After consultation with Fuji Xerox Australia, a 'Book Factory' was proposed, a fully inline, automated book printing solution. After five years of research and development, Griffin Digital now has the substantially labour–free book printing solution it was seeking – the first of its kind to be installed in Australia.
Business Scenario and Challenge
Prepared only to make an investment that met all their expectations for the long term, Griffin's brief to Fuji Xerox Australia (FXA) was focused on digital profitability and the company's demanding and diverse publishing industry clients.
"The key criteria set out by Griffin Digital included lower unit costs through the use of automation both in workflow and manufacturing. Exceptional print and binding quality and media flexibility – with increased productivity," said Paul Sanelli, marketing manager production printing systems at FXA.
"Fuji Xerox Australia researched this for us, and returned with the Book Factory concept in 2005," said Jolly.
"Back then, the print engine available was too slow to achieve our customers' financial targets. However that changed when Fuji Xerox Australia launched the Nuvera 288 production printer. During the research phase, solutions presented by other vendors didn't warrant the financial investment that would allow Griffin Digital to meet its objectives. In short–run book production, the transaction cost is what counts, with labour the most expensive inhibitor to meeting the key 'price per book' measure of productivity.
"Various equipment vendors proposed a variety of offline binding solutions to us," said Jolly, "however our goal was to produce a book totally inline without manual labour. This is the only way we could get the price points for our customers to work. We were very clear on what we needed, and that was automation. There was no way we were going to get where we needed to be with any form of offline binding. Instead, a whole reinvestment program for digital was required."
Business Solution
Five years after Griffin Press commenced its research and consultation process with FXA, the Book Factory was finally commissioned.
"The process seems like a long while," says Jolly, "but a large portion of the time was spent waiting for the appropriate digital press technology to be launched. Now that it has, it is a quantum leap over the old technology we were running."
The resulting configuration of the Book Factory at Griffin Press is the only one of its kind in the world and the first in Australia.
Capable of producing books of 15 to 350 page extent on 80gsm or 40mm paper stocks, sheets are fed in–line to the Nuvera 288 production printer and directed to a choice of C.P. Bourg finishing devices. The top production speed for Griffin Press is an impressive 200 books per hour, with each book having approximately 250 pages each.
A4 printed sheets are sent to a Bourg Perforate–Rotate–Fold module (BPRFx) and turned into 'signatures'. These are transferred to a binder and trimmed as perfect–bound books, for immediate delivery. Saddle stitching is also possible in–line, with the books going direct to a Bourg Document Finisher.
As Griffin Digital required an upgraded to it's digital workflow system, the company made a substantial investment in its IT systems, adding Fuji Xerox FreeFlow Print Manager and Fuji Xerox FreeFlow Process Manager workflow solutions.
"We now have online ordering for our major customers. Our new file archive server means we can automatically retrieve jobs and cue them for print without manual intervention, which is particularly efficient the smaller the print runs become," said Jolly.
FXA's Paul Sanelli says Griffin Digital's expectations were exceeded, according to productivity monitoring by the client since installation.
"Griffin Digital requested that the system meets a productivity number of 85 per cent and it has been operating at around 92 per cent. Print quality has exceeded expectations too. Most importantly, the Book Factory has enabled Griffin to almost triple their digital book production while still meeting unit price, quality and turnaround," said Sanelli.
"Without question we are leaders in digital book production," says Jolly. "By focusing on workflow automation and an integrated binding solution, we are now delivering low–cost manufacturing to our customers." Griffin can now produce tens – or tens–of–thousands of copies – of a title, offering stock management advantages to clients throughout the publishing life–cycle. For publishers of any scale, it means a book is never out of print, so they never miss a sale. Meanwhile costly storage space and the risk of wasted books are a thing of the past. "Significantly our new equipment has been built to produce 'the book of one'," says Jolly. "This is a new area of our business that has had a lot of interest from customers. Imagine holding no stock in a warehouse, but still being able to deliver a printed copy on order? This is the reality now at Griffin Press."
Jolly describes purchase of the Book Factory System as a "stepping stone", with other development ideas already in place.
"For Griffin Digital, choosing The Book Factory was all about proving the concept of inline printing and binding actually works, and more importantly, that the price points we can achieve for our customers with a total 'paper in one end and books out the other' solution. It certainly looks to be working. Now our aim is to grow our output capability as demand from customers grows, so we are researching a high speed web solution." Another attractive benefit to the publishing market is The Book Factory's ability to reduce waste thanks to on–demand printing, while also maintaining low costs. "Part of Griffin's success story is that by offering true on–demand printing with The Book Factory, the publishing industry – that is incredibly conscious of environmental issues –can meet all its green objectives and still keep costs low. Publishers can order books in quantities of one, 100 or 1000 and still enjoy the benefits of unit price, quality and turnaround," said Sanelli.
"From Griffin Press' point of view, they are now seen as leaders in digital book production by their peers and customers," he adds.

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