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August 2016

Digital Goes To Church

Liturgical Publications (LPi) is the largest printer-supplier of weekly church bulletins in the U.S. with over 5,500 active church parishes and multiple production locations.

The "time sensitive" church bulletins must be ready for weekly Saturday or Sunday services. The production model for bulletin printers has always been narrow-web offset, but the bulletin workflow presented a challenge. The average church bulletin run is around eight hundred bulletins. Page counts are low, with the majority ranging between eight to twelve pages. As a result bulletins are "on press" for an average of eight minutes followed by another five-to-eight minutes of wash-up, replating, and run-up to color. This can limit production to around five bulletins per hour.


In the Fall of 2014, LPi made an important decision. Headquartered in New Berlin, Wisconsin decided to invest in an inkjet web press. At the same time, they also had to find a way to produce bulletins from a digitally-printed roll - a very different process from loading offset signatures into a saddle-stitcher.

The solution was the IBIS Smart-binder "Plus HS". The HP "T"-series press enabled LPi to print bulletins continuously. The printed rolls were then run on the Smart-binder. Bulletin production was now "non-stop" and they could be boxed up for delivery right at the end of the Smart-binder delivery conveyor.

IBIS also built a custom sheet perforation unit for LPi which allows up to four perforations to be added to each sheet. The perforator unit is controlled by the Smart-binder sheet barcode, which also controls a host of Smart-binder functions. System customization is one of the strong points of IBIS Bindery Systems, and we strive to respond to our customers' unique application needs.

The end result of all this investment? Before the year was out, in their main plant LPi had gone from 100% offset to 100% digital, in both print and finishing. Although the total investment was significant, the overall savings in both labor and time, and considerable increase in production had everyone smiling.

Ken Shanovich, Director of Operations, LPi says: "The IBIS Smart-binder system has been a solid step forward in our finishing department. We have reduced errors, increased throughput and significantly reduced shipping costs. IBIS also has a highly effective installation and training program that reduced our ramp up time."

Following on from LPi's headquarters rollout success the decision was made to expand the digital model to plants in Cleveland and Cromwell, Connecticut. HP and IBIS worked together to ensure that the changeovers went smoothly. And so LPi is now the owner of FIVE IBIS Smart-binders! As with the original system, IBIS continues to work with LPi to add features to the systems that enhance their productivity within the company's workflow.

  John Cracknell, Managing Director
IBIS Bindery Systems UK

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    Don Piontek
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