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How LineControl Finishing Can Help You Combat Your Labor Shortage
Recently, I was on a sales call with a customer who was looking for a new saddle stitcher. Like so many of our other customers, one of his chief obstacles was finding skilled operators to run his equipment.
The labor shortage across our industry is in some ways its own pandemic. As a generation of skilled operators retire, it has become even harder to replace them. Although recent reports indicate that the labor shortage should abate this fall as enhanced unemployment benefits expire and students go back to school (allowing parents to go back to work), the workforce crisis is expected to continue for at least a few more years. To address these challenges within our industry, we need to maximize production through equipment that requires less manual operation. The path forward for labor-strapped binderies lies in automation and LineControl finishing.
Automation improves quality and productivity
The benefits of automation within the print finishing industry are manifold. Case in point: LineControl finishing enables the integration of our production equipment in a main planning system (MIS/MES) via a digital job sheet (JDF). The JDF file contains all the relevant production control data. This data is used to prepare the production line and then transmit the job to the production line, thus substantially reducing the organizational work that a skilled operator was once expected to perform during his or her daily routine. Job data, such as print run, job name, size, etc., is available directly in the machine with no need for manual entry. This ensures the quality of the data throughout the entire production process. Plus, LineControl also features options to integrate a barcode scanner to activate orders and identify errors.
Automation supports your workforce
Because of its ease of use, LineControl allows even your newer hires to run a production. For example, by using a JDF with our saddle stitcher, you can provide all the signature information up front; all the operator needs to do is select the right job, load it, and all the parameters are set. The digital job sheet is transmitted directly to the production line and provides the operator with a clear list of tasks to choose from, resulting in greater accuracy and repeatability. Changes to the order data can be made directly in the MIS and are available to the machine even if they are made at the last minute. LineControl also saves you valuable production time: you can send book block information down through JDFs, which allows for a much faster makeready. Another advantage of LineControl finishing is that you can provide the job ID as it is in your MIS system and tied with Connex.
The skills gap is not expected to flatten any time soon. That’s why an investment in automation now is an investment in the long-term success of your business.