Phoenix Color Installs Integrated Book Sewing System

Within the juvenile book world, high-impact, color-intense covers provide a distinct competitive advantage. Phoenix Color has been producing jackets, dust covers and color cover components for the publishing industry since 1979, many featuring embossing, foil stamping and other decorative enhancements. In order to meet growing customer demand, this year it replaced an aging legacy sewer with Muller Martini’s Ventura MC200 Connect System.

Sewing is considered a superior book-binding method rather than typical adhesive because it produces a more flexible book and can better accommodate difficult stocks. What makes the Ventura Connect System particularly unique is its ability to produce thread-sewn book blocks and brochures within one singular manufacturing cell. Signatures are gathered, stacked and then turned into thread-sewn book blocks all in a single operation, thereby significantly lowering manufacturing costs while reducing labor.

Since the Phoenix Color Ventura Connect System installation is the first-of-its-kind in North America, the company traveled overseas to watch the machine perform live at a leading Western European printer’s four-color book production facility designed to have the shortest and fastest production cycle when manufacturing high-quality books.

That on-site experience proved essential to Phoenix Color’s decision-making process. According to Guy Bonner, vice president, facilities management and feasibility, “Since no Ventura Connect systems had yet to be installed here in the U.S., it was critical for us to see the machine performing in a real-world setting. And what we witnessed first-hand at Livonia was the Ventura Connect achieving very high production levels.”

Bonner added, “Increasing our throughput was the key factor in installing this system. In the past, we were using two machines which basically ran 24 hours a day. Now one machine does it all within the same time frame, so we’ve basically doubled our production.”

Other advantages to the Ventura MC200 Connect System include:

  • No blind stitch or empty cycles. Arguably the only sewer in its class with this feature, the Ventura delivers up to 33 percent higher production because no empty cycles are required before producing the next book.
  • Fewer mechanical parts. Reduced complexity in the sewing center results in fewer moving parts and less wear and tear.
  • Alternative to offshore suppliers. Unstable economics from overseas suppliers have made Ventura Connect’s fast turnaround an ideal, reliable choice for U.S.-based publishers and book manufacturers.
  • In-line or off-line production. The Connect system features a flexible design so that both in-line and off-line production are possible.
  • Expandable. Currently, Phoenix’s system has a gathering line and a stacker with a robot that transports the stacked product to the sewing machine. If there is increased demand, two more sewing machines can be added which could triple output without having to reconfigure the line or buy a brand new system.

Phoenix Color has been working with Muller Martini since the 1990s when they installed a Corona perfect binding line. “The service and parts support we consistently received from Muller on that equipment was by far superior to that of the competition,” relayed Bonner. “That experience also contributed to our decision to select Muller’s Ventura Connect System.” In terms of the actual installation, Bonner added, “Muller Martini truly understands sewing and the equipment they engineer. They have been with us from start to finish and have been a huge support with training which was imperative because of the technology enhancements from our previous legacy sewer.”