"The crafts were not my cup of tea", replies Gerd Neblung
when asked how he became an industrial bookbinder. In 1971, after
having obtained his master bookbinder's diploma, he founded his own
company with three folding machines, followed by additional
saddlestitchers. Finally, twenty-six years ago, he moved his
company to Hanover, where it still is today. And the Neblung
bookbinding company has been growing and growing, ever since.
Today, sixty-five employees work in the four business units 'manual
labor', 'mailing', 'spine stitching', and 'adhesive binding' that
cover roughly 5,000 square meters of floor space. Since Neblung
himself will retire in not the too distant future, he is gradually
releasing responsibility to his manager and partner, Norbert
Fahron, who has been with the company for about ten years. With its
twenty-one folding machines, including an automatic Stahlfolder TH
56 and a Stahlfolder KH 78 with the latest Heidelberg technology,
three saddlestitchers, and one adhesive binder, the bookbinding
company mainly processes small and medium run lengths.
Last year, an existing 1991 adhesive binder needed reconditioning. "We would have had to invest considerable money", says Fahron. "Besides, PUR bindings are becoming more and more popular among our customers. But we would not have been able to meet this demand with our existing adhesive binder. That was another reason why we finally decided to invest in new equipment." The company opted for the Eurobind 4000 by Heidelberg. "We visited the Heidelberg Postpress Center in Leipzig when the Eurobind 4000 was presented. It is just the right solution for our small to medium run lengths. And the price was also acceptable." They tested the machine with a job that was typical for their order portfolio. "In the end, it was the quality of the products that convinced us. Another advantage of the Eurobind 4000 is that the pre-setting data are automatically stored, and that significantly shortens the make-ready process. We produce a large number of periodicals and get many repeat orders. It makes sense to store the machine settings and use them again", says Fahron. "The shorter make-ready times also make us more flexible: a bookbinder should not have to stop and think whether he has the capacity to accept an incoming order. Otherwise, someone else will get it. Now, we can easily interrupt the production of large editions and spontaneously squeeze jobs in between. Afterwards, we simply retrieve the settings of the previous job, make the press ready, and continue to produce in no time at all."
Looking back at when his company purchased the Eurobind 4000, Fahron recalls: "We wanted it to be up and running within a week. And so it was. Heidelberg technicians dismantled the machine in Leipzig, where it had been tested, and brought it to Hanover. In the meanwhile, the previous machine, too, had to be dismantled, sold, and the production hall converted in order to make space for the adhesive binding line with its approximately thirty-five meters. After four days, the first trial was run, and after one week, production was taken up. "Normally, it takes around five weeks to deliver and install such a machine. But we didn't have that time. So it was clear that production would not be utterly smooth in the beginning. Our first job was not perfect, of course, but with the help of Heidelberg, we were quickly able to overcome initial problems", relates Fahron.
"A machine is only as good as the people who operate it", as
Neblung's motto goes. Therefore, he attaches great importance to
qualification. Two of his employees were trained in operating the
adhesive binder at the Postpress Center in Leipzig. His customers'
reactions to the delivered products are also very positive: they
are convinced by their high quality. Typical problems, like round
spines with thick blocks, are things of the past. "We can easily
produce up to sixty millimeter thick blocks with the Eurobind 4000.
But we have also processed very thin blocks of up to only 1.6
millimeters", reports Fahron.
In addition to adhesive binding, the Eurobind 4000 is also used for gathering. For that purpose, Neblung is planning to purchase a special criss-cross delivery for criss-crossed book block piles to automate another hitherto manual task. "In close cooperation with our customers, we soon intend to increase the production of PUR bindings and thus expand our adhesive binding business unit. We want our customers to know exactly what possibilities the new adhesive binder gives us", says Fahron. He is also planning to integrate his four postpress business units into a single workflow to further automate the production process. The new adhesive binder is already JDF-compatible. In addition, it shall soon be connected to the Heidelberg service department for remote-access maintenance and diagnosis. "Reliable production and automation are just as important for a postpress company as they are for a print shop", says Fahron.