Autonomous stacking increases signature output by more than 20 percent

Austrian industrial bookbinder Koller und Kunesch replaced brawn with the fully automatic Stahlfolder P-Stacker stacking system – and upped its folding throughput by more than 20 percent.

When signature production capacity in his company reached its limits, Günter Kunesch didn’t think twice. The Managing Director of the industrial bookbinder Koller und Kunesch in Lamprechtshausen in the province of Salzburg decided to close another automation gap in his setup, becoming the first company in Austria to invest in the P-Stacker from Heidelberg.

Harnessing maximum folding speed

Instead of manually stacking the signatures on the pallet like before, this backbreaking work is now done by the autonomous P-Stacker. At its heart is a six-axis industrial robot that effortlessly keeps up with the output of the Stahlfolder TH 82-P. The high-performance folding machine from Heidelberg produces up to 18,000 signatures per hour using shingling. At Koller und Kunesch, however, these speeds have been theoretical up to now, simply because no operator could keep pace with this folding speed. In the beginning, the company therefore had to operate the machine at a throttled speed. This changed with the arrival of the P-Stacker.

Every minute, five signature packages weighing between four and six kilograms make their way into the delivery. This is one every twelve seconds. The P-Stacker grabs the signature stack using its two grippers, jogs it and places it on the pallet. The powerful steel unit does this gently and precisely, and with no smearing or interruptions. “We already had an ace up our sleeve with the TH 82-P high-performance folding machine. With the P-Stacker, we can now up the ante even further and dial capacity right up,” says Kunesch enthusiastically.

Fast growth

The family-run business with 25 employees has evolved from a printing company to a leading industrial bookbinder in Western Austria. It produces folded leaflets, magazines, booklets, brochures, catalogs (hard and soft cover) and much more. It offers whatever services its customers need, whether cutting, folding, saddle stitching, perfect binding, thread stitching, die-cutting, cellophaning, or finalizing. If you ask Günter Kunesch, the main reasons for his company’s impressive success are experienced employees, detailed process knowledge and advice that starts right from printing for optimum product travel through to postpress.

Robust and low-maintenance operation

The company also invests regularly in state-of-the-art equipment in order to waste no time in meeting new market requirements. For years, Koller und Kunesch has been relying on the innovations and all-round support offered by Heidelberg, as was recently the case with the P-Stacker. “Market-leading technology and Heidelberg’s close-mesh service network are extremely important for us. As an industrial company, we rely on high productivity and availability,” explains Kunesch. Designed for a payload of up to eight kilograms and three-shift operation, the P-Stacker meets these conditions perfectly. The steel industrial robot is robust in use, requires minimal maintenance and is the ideal component to the Stahlfolder TH 82-P.

Fewer interruptions, more streamlined production

Another ingenious feature of the P-Stacker, according to Kunesch, is its ability to place the signatures turned on the pallet so that they are optimally oriented for the downstream process. “This is a huge advantage, since we benefit from the time and productivity gained in folding on the saddle stitcher and perfect binder too,” says the Managing Director. The diagonal arrangement of the grippers also contributes to the constantly high output. It makes for compact stacking with minimal distance between the signature packages. The full pallet format is used here, so pallets need to be changed less frequently.

The autonomous stacking system is also very well received by the operators. Their workload is noticeably lighter, in the truest sense. Instead of manhandling signature packages, they can instead turn their attention to quality checks and logistics. The P-Stacker is easy to configure with a few taps on a mobile touchpad. Enter the signature and pallet format as well as the stacking pattern, and the stacking system is all set. For a format change, the grippers adjust automatically. There is no need to replace anything.

Almost two metric tons more throughput – per shift

Some four months after startup of the P-Stacker, which went smoothly and swiftly, Koller und Kunesch can give its first evaluations. Per shift, the P-Stacker stacks around eight metric tons of paper on the pallet – almost two metric tons more throughput than before. As a result, the utilization ratio of the saddle binder and perfect binder has increased too, while the job throughput times have decreased. “Thanks to the P-Stacker, we’ve increased our signature output by over 20 percent and our productivity and capacity overall,” summarizes Kunesch. This means that the company is on the right track for more growth.

About Koller & Kunesch:

  • Headquarters: Lamprechtshausen, Austria
  • 25 employees

www.koller-kunesch.at/

Specialized in:

  • Industrial book and brochure printing

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