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May 21, 2014
United States
California

AT A GLANCE

Industry sector

In-Plant print shop in a public school

Challenges
  • Outdated analog print workflow withno post-press services
  • Lack of control of profit and time due to outsourced finishing
Solutions
  • Xerox Corporation DocuTech® 6180 Production Publisher working In-Line with a Bourg BBF2005 Book Factory to produce perfect-bound books on demand
  • Xerox DocuTech 6135 Production Publisher working In-Line with a Bourg BDF-x Document Finisher to produce stitch-fold-trim booklet-making
Results
  • Millions of dollars saved annually by producing textbooks in-house with the Bourg BBF 2005 and the Bourg BDF-x Document Finisher 
  • Increased productivity and quality of materials produced

California School District Saves Millions Each Month Binding Books In-house

The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is not your average public school system. It ranks as the sixth largest in California and the largest in Orange County, serving nearly 54,000 K-12 students at 63 schools in a 24 square-mile area. The school district also employs over 5,000 people, including school principals and teachers; department directors, supervisors, managers, food service and administrative workers.

The Santa Ana USD Publications Department that supports this major school system’s educational and communications needs is also anything but average. The largely digital production unit is based in a single centralized facility that operates five days a week around the clock, prints six million impressions per month – and saves millions of dollars in the process.

This represents a dramatic change from the limited services the department provided in August 1997, when Holger Kasper was hired to revamp it and bring graphic services production in-house to reduce costs.

From Outdated to Updated

Back then, the Publications Department was nestled in a cramped 7,000 square-foot area with an antiquated analog print workflow and no postpress services except for a paper cutter and a tape binding machine. Much of the printing – and anything that had to be bound or finished – was sent to outside service providers, says Kasper.

Within the first year of taking over as department manager, Kasper had upgraded “nearly everything” in the in-plant shop, applying the experience he had gained from 15 years as general manager of several commercial printing outfits to bring the operation up to date.

“In a commercial operation,” Kasper explains, “the more work you do, the more profit you can make. In an in-plant environment, the more work you keep in-house in a centralized facility the more money you save by not having to pay a premium for payroll, benefits and administrative overhead. Plus you control the scheduling rather than the outside vendor.”

Among his many changes, prepress was expanded and brought into the digital age, computerized platemaking was installed to speed print job setup, and a new 4-color perfecting press replaced the department’s aging offset unit. By early 1998, Kasper had taken over a small part of the shop for a new digital bindery that featured the latest equipment innovations available.

He first installed a Xerox Corporation DocuTech® 6180 Production Publisher integrated with a BBF2005 Book Factory manufactured by Xerox Business Innovation Partner C.P. Bourg to produce perfect-bound books on demand. Next to the on-line Book Factory, Kasper brought in a Xerox DocuTech 6135 Production Publisher paired with a compact Bourg BDF-x Document Finisher for integrated stitch-fold-trim booklet-making.

Because each of the binders operated on-line with their respective digital printers, the two setups automated the production of books and booklets in any quantity the District needed – whether single copies or hundreds.

Back to the Future

The original digital production lines proved so reliable and efficient that in 2003, when the first six year lease expired, the department negotiated a second with Xerox to replace the lines with two new Xerox DocuTech 6180s, and a new Bourg BBF2005 Book Factory and BDF-x Document Finisher. Along the way, the department added a C.P. Bourg off-line finishing system with a Bourg BST Suction Tower Collator and modular “t-series” stitch-fold-trim units.

Fast-forward seven years to 2010. Holger Kasper is Director of Logistics responsible for the Publications and Records Retentions departments and warehouse; almost all of the District’s requests for graphics services are received electronically; and the Publications Department produces more than 99 percent of the jobs it receives in-house in an expanded 14,000 square-foot facility.

However, due to the budget woes experienced in California during the current economic downturn, the same on-line binding and finishing systems installed in 2003 are still being used today for full-tilt production – compelling testimony to their equipment durability and innovative design.

Making Millions of Impressions

During the day shift, the Publications Department prints everything from posters and program guides for sports events to NCR forms, homework assignment sheets and various other materials
representing two million of the department’s total six million printed impressions per month.

This is when both of the C.P. Bourg document finishers are used – with the on-line BDF-x and the offline Bourg BST Suction Tower Collator and modular “t-series” units playing key roles by stitching, folding and trimming business materials, teacher-created books, and “a ton of workbooks” and other course materials, says Kasper.

The off-line Bourg finisher carries part of the load, accepting up to 10 11 x 17-inch signatures, or 36 pages plus cover from the BST-10d collator. When thicker materials need to be finished on-line, the Xerox 6180 and its fully automated Bourg BDF-x signature booklet maker take over production. The BDF-x allows sheet size and application changeovers under software control for top/side/corner or saddle stitching and trimming up to 4,200 sets per hour of up to 55 sheets of coated and uncoated stock including cover from 8" x 4.7" to 20-3/8" x 14".

The Xerox 6180’s built-in cover tray allows an operator to add pre-printed color covers during production, enabling production runs of custom-cover booklets. The department prints short-run color covers on a Xerox 5000 color printer. When more than 1,000 impressions are needed, it presses its 4-color Heidelberg offset unit into service.

Saving Millions on Bookbinding Alone

During the second and third shifts from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 the next morning, the second Xerox 6180 printer and Bourg BBF2005 Book Factory synchronized with the printer’s output take over the department’s entire workflow, long ago having replaced the tape-bound books produced until 1998 with exceptionally durable professionally-bound softcover volumes. The books produced can be 1.57 inches thick, in finished sizes from 8-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches to as large as 14 x 12 inches.

“The Bourg equipment is so easy to use, one person can operate it with a little training,” notes Kasper, “and the books produced are very high quality,” he adds.

This highly automated production line is used exclusively for binding the remaining four million page impressions per month, representing hundreds of thousands of softcover workbooks used by students every year and various perfect-bound publications needed by administrators. The digital book production system also gives SAUSD the manufacturing capacity and volume needed to strike deals with textbook publishers, alone saving the District literally millions of dollars per year.

“Because we can bind so many books, whenever SAUSD adds a new textbook series we negotiate with the publisher for the rights to produce the materials, like workbooks, that go with them,” Kasper explains.

The publisher sends one original file called a black line master for each of these materials. The masters are loaded into the Publications Department computer system and publication lists are made
available to the District by ISBN number along with department pricing. Using the ISBNs as unique identifiers, schools fill out an on-line form using the department’s Web CRD software from Xerox Business Innovation Partner Rochester Software Associates to order workbooks when needed. Each order triggers billing, but at a fraction of the price publishers charge.

Proof in the Analysis

In 2006, Kasper was asked to analyze the savings generated by in-house production. For the analysis he assessed a single textbook series used by the elementary schools for language arts, comparing the price the publisher would have charged for workbooks for that one series with the cost of running the entire Publications Department per year including payroll, overhead and equipment – everything except paper.

“The report concluded that our in-house approach to production saved the District $3.1 million per month binding workbooks for that one textbook series alone. It didn’t even include the savings we generate by keeping all the other work we do for the District in-house,” Kasper explains. The Bourg binding and finishing equipment also has proven quite reliable, despite the fact for nearly seven years it has been used routinely 16 hours a day, five days a week. “Over all, I can’t remember a time during the last 12 years when that equipment was down any more than what could be expected,” says Kasper.

As for the quality of the finished product, Kasper points to the fact that the perfect-bound workbooks are used for an entire school year by kids, who can be extraordinarily hard on them and sometimes use them for purposes adults can’t even imagine.

“If you take any perfect bound book and you throw it around and bend it enough, the spine will break and the pages will come out. But in the 12 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never, ever had a call from a school about a problem with a binding.

“There’s not a lot of binding options out there that could keep up with the equipment I have right now, says Kasper. “And we’re going to keep doing it the way we’ve been doing it, because it literally saves us millions of dollars.”