Finishing First 2020. Review

iCE series advances process automation.

(Quickborn, October 2020) Around 300 international participants attended the first virtual FINISHING FIRST – PRODUCT LAUNCH at the end of September to find out about the latest Smart Factory solutions from Horizon. In order to show the efficient processing of short and medium runs up to book of one production, the first machines of the new iCE series were presented – connected with the cloud-based workflow software iCE LiNK.

Process automation in focus.

"iCE stands for intelligence, integration, interaction, connectivity and efficiency. Production should be made as efficient and smart as possible. Smart means for us that production steps can be minimised, makeready times shortened and production costs reduced through the use of a high level of automation," explains Sales Manager Marisa Dütsch, who led the online event. The printing industry is looking for solutions that not only save labour through automation, but also connect individual systems to form networks – a fully automated, end-to-end integrated Smart Factory.

Robot supports production.

Part of the Smart Factory concept is also the use of robots to assist humans in simple, repeatable tasks such as loading and unloading machines. For example, the machine demonstration at FINISHING FIRST was opened by a Cobot (collaborative robot), which feeds digitally printed book blocks from the high-speed feeder HOF-400 to the 1-clamp perfect binder BQ-270V. The robot accurately picks up the book and places it in the clamp of the perfect binder, where the books are aligned again and the binding process starts.

This configuration demonstrates an entry-level Smart Binding solution with a small footprint, which can be expanded by connecting a three-side trimmer. The concept presentation only offers a first glimpse of the future use of robotics in finishing.

iCE Binder BQ-500.

The new, fully automated 4-clamp perfect binder BQ-500 – the fifth generation of Horizon perfect binders - not only comes in a completely new design, but has also been significantly improved in all aspects. It can be used for both EVA and PUR hotmelt binding and achieves up to 1,350 cycles (EVA) or 1,000 cycles (PUR) per hour. Thanks to consistent automation, the BQ-500 enables efficient variable book production with a book block thickness of 1 to 65 mm. By varying the individual book block thicknesses up to 5 mm, around 800 books can be produced per hour in highest quality. Even with a difference in thickness of 65 mm, still 500 books can be produced per hour. In addition, productivity for longer runs is increased thanks to shorter makeready times and improved system efficiency.

The BQ-500's flexibility is particularly impressive when it comes to future additional options. The following modules will optimize the production of book blocks for hardcover production from spring 2021: End-sheet-feeder ESF-BQ, fully automated Gauze unit GF-500 and inline book block feeder LBF-500, which can feed loose-sheet book blocks, folded signatures as well as pre-glued and sewn book blocks.

iCE Trimmer HT-300.

Another premiere was the new compact three-side trimmer HT-300, which can be operated inline, nearline or as a stand-alone machine. In the inline configuration with BQ-500 shown at the event, up to 300 books per hour can be produced. If multiple books are stacked, the system reaches even 900 to 1,200 books per hour.

Among the most important innovations is the automatic press adjustment based on the measured book thickness. This enables a material-friendly, crease-free production. A particularly precise cutting result is also ensured by the new double cut function. In addition, the cutting depth can be easily adjusted on the touch screen and is controlled by servo motors.

The HT-300 offers versatile applications by processing 6- and 8-page flap covers. First the head and foot trimming takes place. During front trimming, the flaps of the cover are pushed open by the lower and upper support plates and are therefore not trimmed.

Cloud-based workflow software iCE LiNK.

All machines of the new iCE series are "iCE LiNK ready", older Horizon machines can be upgraded accordingly to connect them to the cloud-based workflow software iCE LiNK. It enables production processes to be monitored, analysed and visualised in real time, making them even more efficient. For this purpose, the key performance indicators (KPI) of the individual systems – also across different locations – are collected, sent to the cloud, analysed and graphically displayed. The dashboard can be accessed from a PC or mobile devices.

"By monitoring, the overall efficiency of the finishing systems can be calculated and increased," summarises Marisa Dütsch. Preventive maintenance intervals and remote maintenance are also ensured, thus reducing downtimes.

iCE LiNK is available as a subscription on an annual basis. In future, there will be a choice of three upgradeable versions: "IoT Basic" is available immediately. In the second quarter of 2021 the versions "Automation" and "Enterprise" will follow, which among other things enable the integration of a JDF/JMF workflow and the fully automated production control and monitoring of all job-related data.

Good feedback for virtual event concept.

With this outlook on the future of print finishing, Horizon's first virtual launch event ended - it will not have been the last. "After the event, we received very positive feedback from many participants," says Marisa Dütsch, delighted with the success of FINISHING FIRST - PRODUCT LAUNCH. "This shows not least that we are on the right track with this type of virtual event. Volume #2 is already being planned."