Latest News
June 2015
IBIS Smart Binder for Exam Paper Production

The IBIS Smart-binder is the premium saddle-binding solution for in-line operation with more systems installed around the world than from any other manufacturer. In-line exam paper production is one of the most common applications for the Smart-binder system.

More printing companies are using IBIS Smart-binders to produce exam papers than any other digital finishing system. The reasons for this are as follows:

1) Booklet integrity
It is essential that no sheet ends up in the wrong exam paper. The Smart-binder therefore has a fully integrated sheet detection and tracking system (using the bar codes on each sheet) to ensure the integrity of each finished paper. If there is any risk that a document’s integrity could be compromised then it is automatically rejected

2) Tighter control of printed sheets using in-line finishing
Most exam paper producers prefer to run the Smart-binder in-line with the digital printer to avoid piles of printed sheets (or rolls) lying around the factory awaiting finishing. This reduces any security risk that a printed sheet could find its way into the wrong hands.

3) High reliability with minimum maintenance
The Smart-binder is a very heavy-duty system designed to operate 24/7 in-line with a high speed digital web printer with minimum maintenance, high reliability and maximum possible 'up-time'.

4) High speed output
The Smart-binder can run constantly at very high speeds (typically producing around 7,000 A4 booklets/hour, making 8 – 16 exam page papers in-line with a printer running at up to 130 metres/min web speed).

5) Variable page extents
Run lengths for exam papers can be very low, although volumes are often high, e.g: a Smart-binder may produce one million exam paper booklets a month. It is therefore a key feature that the Smart-binder can change the number of pages in each booklet ‘on-the-run’ under bar-code control, while maintaining the integrity (correct page sequence) in each individual booklet.

To help produce variable page extent exam papers, particularly if some documents contain a very small number of pages (4 or 8), we have developed a new sheet buffer module.

This in-line buffer module stores sheets arriving from the printer and feeds them into the Smart-binder at a rate determined by the number of sheets in each book. It also allows the Smart-binder to stop and restart without stopping the web printer, improving the efficiency of the whole line.

6) Cover matching
A separately-printed cover sheet, if needed, may be fed from the optional Smart-binder cover feeder. If personalised then the cover may be bar coded so the Smart-binder can ensure it is correct one for the booklet to which it is attached

7) Document personalisation
Exam papers may be personalised and may include the student’s name. Consecutive papers may include the same questions but in a different sequence (to reduce risk of a student copying from their neighbour during the exam).

8) Data Tracking
The Smart-binder includes a sophisticated tracking system using bar code (or Datamatrix) code readers and sensors. The Smart-binder control PC retains log files containing production data relating to each booklet produced, so rejected booklets can be reprinted. The production log files may be viewed externally with a network connection if required

9) Answer sheets and automated marking
The Smart-binder can produce a document which includes both the questions and an answer sheet. The answer sheet may be fed separately from the cover/insert sheet feeder and bound together with the other sheets, or be loose or easily detachable. If automatic ‘marking’ of completed exam papers is required the booklet spine may be cut off and pages fed individually though the auto-marking machine. In other cases the answer sheet itself is removed from the booklet for auto-marking processing.

10) Wire stitching or ISG cold gluing
IBIS’s unique and patented ISG cold glue system provides a higher quality binding alternative to wire stitching. This results in high booklet integrity for exam paper production as sheets cannot be removed from the booklet without tearing the paper. The improved booklet lay-flat this system offers also helps with subsequent inserting and mailing operations.

View a video HERE of the IBIS Smart-binder system in operation, February 2015, at the Hunkeler HID show in Luzern, including the optional sheet buffer SBS-100.

Case Studies

The following customers use the Smart-binder exclusively to produce exam test papers:

Case study 1: UK
In 2008 this customer purchased the first six IBIS Smart-binders for exam paper production. Three were installed in-line with cut-sheet printers and three in-line with web toner printers. Since then the Smart-binders fed from the web printers have each produced over 60 million booklets. In 2014 this customer ordered two more Smart-binders which were installed in-line with ink-jet web printers and in 2015 two more in-line Smart-binders were added. By July 2015 we will have installed 10 in-line Smart-binders at this site.

Case study 2: Japan
In 2006 customer ‘TF’ ordered their first Smart-binder systems to produce examination test papers for Japanese students. These machines operate ‘off-line’ using high-pile sheet feeders fed from colour-printed sheets using a loading trolley system. From 2006–2010 IBIS installed a total of 9 Smart-binders at this site in Tokyo, all of which are used to produce exam test papers of variable thickness and with dynamic sheet perforation. All exam booklets produced by TF are bound using the Smart-binder’s unique ISG cold-glue system instead of being wire stitched. Even booklet has separately-fed cover sheet which is personalised and ‘matched’ to the inside sheets.

Case Study 3: USA
This customer has special requirements for finishing exam papers in-line with ink-jet web printers and use three ‘customised’ Smart-binders for this purpose.

Case Study 4: Africa
Over the last 5 years, a number of IBIS Smart-binders have been installed at customer sites in Tanzania, Malawi, S,Africa and Zimbabwe to produce exam papers in-line with web printers. We are increasingly finding that such countries, which in the past have chosen to have their exam papers produced in other countries (such as in the UK), are now preferring to bring production home. The extra security resulting from Digital web printing with in-line IBIS finishing is contributing to this change.

Case study 5 : Brazil
This customer ordered a Smart-binder system to produce exam papers from pre-printed rolls (near line solution).

Case study 6: New Zealand
The customer ordered one Smart-binder system, together with Sheet Buffer SBS-100, cover feeder and an additional insert sheet feeder, to produce exam papers at a customer site in Wellington, NZ. This will operate in-line with an ink-jet web printer at up to 127 m/min web speed.

Case Study 7: UK
In 2013 we installed two Smart-binders at this site to produce exam papers. One operates in-line with a cut-sheet printer and the other in-line with a high speed web printer. For this customer we developed a special corner hole punch which is installed in the Smart-binder trimmers.

Case Study 8: Turkey
In 2014 we installed one Smart-binder in-line with an ink-jet printer to produce exam papers at this leading printer on the University campus, Ankara, Turkey.

Please do contact me to discuss your requirements and for more information.

John Cracknell, Managing Director
IBIS Bindery Systems UK