Title:
Print media manufacturing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A print media manufacturing system including a print media conveyor, a plurality of print media processing machines adapted to dispense print media components to the print media being conveyed on the print media conveyor, an automated storage and retrieval machine including a shuttle, and a storage rack that stores reserve supply of print media components used by the plurality of print media processing machines. The storage and retrieval machine is operable to position the shuttle along the storage rack, and the shuttle is operable to enter the storage rack to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components stored therein, and to deliver the retrieved reserve supply to the print media processing machines.



Inventors:
Labell, Daniel (New Cumberland, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/399594
Publication Date:
03/29/2007
Filing Date:
04/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H39/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NICHOLSON III, LESLIE AUGUST
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARLEY SNYDER (Malvern, PA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A print media manufacturing system comprising: a print media conveyor for conveying print media thereon; a plurality of print media processing machines positioned along said print media conveyor, said print media processing machines being adapted to dispense print media components to said print media conveyor; at least one supply rack positioned proximate to said plurality of print media processing machines, said at least one supply rack receiving supplies of print media components used by said plurality of print media processing machines; a rail positioned substantially parallel to said at least one supply rack; an automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machine including at least one shuttle that is operable to move in a direction perpendicular to said rail, said S/R machine engaging said rail to allow said S/R machine to travel substantially parallel to said at least one supply rack; and at least one storage rack that stores reserve supply of print media components used by said plurality of print media processing machines, said at least one storage rack being positioned adjacent to said rail so that said rail is positioned between said at least one supply rack and said at least one storage rack; wherein said S/R machine is operable to position said shuttle along said at least one storage rack, and said shuttle is operable to enter said at least one storage rack to retrieve said reserve supply of print media components from said at least one storage rack.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said S/R machine is operable to position said shuttle along said at least one supply rack, and said shuttle is operable to deliver said retrieved reserve supply of said print media components.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein said shuttle includes drive wheels and a means for lifting said reserve supply of print media components onto said shuttle, said drive wheels being operable to move in a synchronized manner with said means.

4. The system of claim 1, further including a programmable controller that controls the operation of said S/R machine and said shuttle.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said at least one storage rack includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays for storing said reserve supply of print media components.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein said S/R machine further includes a vertically extending mast and a vertically movable carriage to elevate said shuttle for entry into said plurality of vertically arranged storage bays to retrieve said print media components stored therein.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein said plurality of vertically arranged storage bays include a plurality of overhead storage bays positioned above said at least one supply rack, said shuttle being operable to enter into said plurality of overhead storage bays to retrieve said print media components stored therein.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein said plurality of overhead storage bays are also positioned above said plurality of print media processing machines.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein said plurality of overhead storage bays are also positioned above said print media conveyor.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein said plurality of print media processing machines dispense one print media component at a time.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein said print media components are signatures of at least one of a book, a magazine, and a catalog.

12. The system of claim 11, further including at least one binding machine that binds said signatures together by at least one of stapling and gluing said signatures together.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein said print media components are inserts for a newspaper, and said plurality of print media processing machines include a plurality of inserting machines that dispense said inserts into said newspaper.

14. The system of claim 10, wherein said print media components are different magazine titles, and said plurality of print media processing machines include a plurality of collating machines that stack magazines together.

15. The system of claim 1, wherein said print media conveyor is elevated relative to said rail.

16. The system of claim 1, wherein said at least one supply rack includes a plurality of supply bays, each supply bay being positioned proximate to one of said plurality of print media processing machines for receiving supplies of a print media component that is dispensed by said one of said plurality of print media processing machines.

17. The system of claim 1, further including a second plurality of print media processing machines, a second supply rack positioned proximate to said second plurality of print media processing machines, a second rail positioned substantially parallel to said second supply rack, a second S/R machine with at least one shuttle, and a second storage rack positioned adjacent to said second rail, wherein said shuttle is operable to enter said second storage rack to retrieve a reserve supply of print media components stored therein.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein said second storage rack includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays, and said S/R machine further includes a vertically extending mast and a vertically movable carriage to elevate said shuttle for entry into said plurality of vertically arranged storage bays.

19. A print media manufacturing system comprising: a print media conveyor for conveying print media thereon; a plurality of print media processing machines positioned along said print media conveyor, said print media processing machines being adapted to dispense print media components to said print media conveyor; a supply rack positioned proximate to said plurality of print media processing machines, said supply rack receiving supplies of print media components used by said plurality of print media processing machines; a rail positioned substantially parallel to said supply rack; a storage rack with a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays for storing reserve supply of said print media components used by said plurality of print media processing machines, said storage rack including a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays and being positioned adjacent to said rail so that said rail is positioned between said supply rack and said storage rack; an automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machine engaging said rail to allow said S/R machine to travel substantially parallel to said supply rack, said S/R machine including a shuttle, a vertically extending mast, and a vertically movable carriage; wherein said S/R machine is operable to position said shuttle along said storage rack, to retrieve said reserve supply of print media components stored therein using said shuttle, to position said shuttle along said supply rack, and to deliver said retrieved reserve supply of print media components thereto using said shuttle.

20. The system of claim 19, further including a programmable controller that controls the operation of said S/R machine and said shuttle.

21. The system of claim 19, wherein said plurality of vertically arranged storage bays include a plurality of overhead storage bays positioned above said at least one supply rack, said shuttle being operable to enter into said plurality of overhead storage bays to retrieve said print media components stored therein.

22. The system of claim 19, wherein said shuttle includes drive wheels and a means for lifting said reserve supply of print media components onto said shuttle, said drive wheels being operable to move in a synchronized manner with said means.

23. A print media manufacturing system comprising: a print media conveyor for conveying print media thereon; a plurality of print media processing machines positioned along said print media conveyor, said print media processing machines being adapted to dispense print media components to said print media conveyor; an automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machine including at least one shuttle, said S/R machine being adapted to travel substantially parallel to said print media processing machines; and at least one storage rack that stores reserve supply of print media components used by said plurality of print media processing machines; wherein said S/R machine is operable to position said shuttle along said at least one storage rack, and said shuttle is operable to enter said at least one storage rack to retrieve said reserve supply of print media components from said at least one storage rack, and deliver said retrieved reserve supply of print media components to said plurality of print media processing machines.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/668,978, filed Apr. 7, 2005, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to print media manufacturing systems. In particular, the present invention relates to systems for manufacturing magazines, catalogs, books, newspapers, and collation of print media.

2. Description of the Related Art

Presently, manufacturing of various print media such as magazines, catalogs, and books, as well as collation of print media, are attained in print media manufacturing systems. Typically, print media such as magazines, catalogs, and books, are assembled from print media components which are pre-printed by the printers. These pre-printed sections are referred to as “signatures” in the print media industry. These signatures are typically 8 or 16 pages, and are typically just over 8.5″×11″ in size. These signatures are palletized, and placed in storage in a warehouse once printed.

To actually create the finished print media, the stored signatures are retrieved from the warehouse, and brought to the manufacturing facility that houses the print media manufacturing system. The system typically includes a print media conveyor, and a plurality of print media processing machines that are provided along the print media conveyor. Such print media processing machines include machines typically referred to as “hoppers”, that dispense the signature to the print media conveyor, one at a time, as the print media is conveyed thereon.

The signatures are assembled together in proper sequence by the print media manufacturing system, and bound together. For example, in a 300 page magazine, 15 to 30 or more of these signatures are stacked one on top of each other in the proper sequence on the print media conveyor, and bound together by a binding machine. This binding is either done by stapling the signatures together (i.e. stitch binding) or gluing them together (i.e. perfect binding).

The space requirements of the various print processing machines and binding machines of the print media manufacturing system are very high. The print media conveyor of such print media manufacturing systems are typically very long, and can be hundreds of feet in length. During operations, pallet loads of pre-printed signatures are brought from a storage warehouse, usually via a fork-truck, to the various sections of the print media conveyor where the particular signatures are used. The operator provides the signatures to the print media processing machines.

The manufacture of newspapers is somewhat similar to the process described above in that a print media manufacturing system with a print media conveyor is used. Print media components that are typically used in the manufacturing of newspapers are inserts which are pre-printed pages or advertising leaflets that increase advertising revenue for the newspapers. This is most commonly done in weekend editions of the newspaper, where the number of inserts can often rival the number of actual news content pages.

Correspondingly, the print media processing machines that are used in the manufacture of newspapers are inserting machines that dispense “inserts” into the newspaper as it is conveyed along the print media conveyor. The insertion process occurs after the newspaper is printed. In particular, the newspaper is conveyed along the print media conveyor. The inserting machine is typically long and narrow, and incorporates adjustable hoppers which hold an inserts to be inserted into the newspaper. These hoppers are located on approximately 24″ to 36″ centers, and are designed to feed a single insert into the newspaper as it is conveyed. This provides a high speed method of dispensing inserts into a newspaper.

Most, if not all newspapers, tend to purchase all or a portion of these inserts from other printing companies, since their presses are usually not designed to print these smaller pages using a different paper stock. Therefore, pallet loads of inserts are usually received from these other printing companies, and warehoused prior to use. These pallets are transported via a fork-truck to the print media manufacturing system so that an operator can place the inserts into the print media processing machines. These pallets of inserts are typically warehoused in a different location, and require a fork-truck to retrieve the pallets from the warehouse for use.

In addition, in the print media industry, collation of different magazine titles are also performed. In particular, plurality of different magazine titles are sequenced, stacked and bound together in the order that a mail delivery person would require them in their mail run. This collation is attained by collating machines in a collating line, the machines placing a particular magazine title onto the print media conveyor in sequence so as to form a stack of various magazine titles for delivery. In this regard, the collating machines also include hoppers for receiving the particular magazine title that is to be dispensed, and the various magazines titles are released from the hoppers of the collating machines. Presently, it is not uncommon to have 20 to 50 popular magazine titles along one collation line. The stack of collated magazines are wrapped in plastic, and palletized. The bundles created by this operation are stacked in the order of the mail route.

This collating eliminates the need for the U.S. Postal Service to sort these magazines at the local branch level. Such pre-collated magazines allows a printing company to receive discounted postage rates, reducing their costs significantly. However, such collation operations require the various different magazine titles to be retrieved from a warehouse using fork-trucks which require significant amount of manual labor and resources, thereby reducing the cost savings that can be realized by the collation operations.

Thus, in the manufacturing of books, magazines, catalogs, and newspapers, as well as in collating of print media, the manufacturing system is maintained substantially separate, and independently, from the warehousing and storage of the print media components used, such as signatures, inserts, and various magazines. Correspondingly, a separate warehouse facility and operations for retrieving the print media components require substantial amount of real estate and facilities, and thus, are very expensive. Moreover, the retrieval of such print media components from such warehouses using fork-trucks require significant amount of manual labor and resources, thereby further increasing costs.

Therefore, there exists an unfulfilled need for a print media system that reduces the need for a separate warehouse facility for storing the print media components, and operations for retrieving the print media components. In addition, there also exists an unfulfilled need for a print media system that reduces cost associated with such a separate warehouse facility and operations, including amount of manual labor required.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the above, one advantage of the present invention is in providing a print media system that reduces the need for a separate warehouse facility and operations for retrieving the print media components.

In addition, another advantage of the present invention is in providing a print media system that reduces costs associated with such a separate warehouse facility and operations, including amount of manual labor required.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a print media manufacturing system is provided, the system including a print media conveyor for conveying print media thereon, a plurality of print media processing machines positioned along the print media conveyor, the print media processing machines being adapted to dispense print media components to the print media conveyor, and at least one supply rack positioned proximate to the plurality of print media processing machines, the supply rack receiving supplies of print media components used by the plurality of print media processing machines. The system also includes a rail positioned substantially parallel to the supply rack, an automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machine including a shuttle that is operable to move in a direction perpendicular to the rail, the S/R machine engaging the rail to allow the S/R machine to travel substantially parallel to the supply rack, and a storage rack that stores reserve supply of print media components used by the plurality of print media processing machines, the storage rack being positioned adjacent to the rail so that the rail is positioned between the supply rack and the storage rack.

Furthermore, in accordance with the present invention, the S/R machine is operable to position the shuttle along the storage rack, and the shuttle is operable to enter the storage rack to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components from the storage rack. In this regard, the S/R machine is operable to position the shuttle along the supply rack, and the shuttle is operable to deliver the retrieved reserve supply of the print media components.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the shuttle preferably includes drive wheels and a means for lifting the reserve supply of print media components onto the shuttle, the drive wheels being operable to move in a synchronized manner with the means for lifting. In accordance with another embodiment, the system further includes a programmable controller that controls the operation of the S/R machine and the shuffle in the manner described.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the storage rack includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays for storing the reserve supply of print media components. In this regard, the S/R machine may be implemented to include a vertically extending mast and a vertically movable carriage to elevate the shuttle for entry into the plurality of vertically arranged storage bays to allow retrieval of the print media components stored therein. The plurality of vertically arranged storage bays include a plurality of overhead storage bays positioned above the supply rack, the shuttle being operable to enter into the plurality of overhead storage bays to retrieve the print media components stored therein. Preferably, the plurality of overhead storage bays are also positioned above the plurality of print media processing machines and the print media conveyor.

In one application of the system of the present invention, the plurality of print media processing machines dispense one print media component at a time. In this regard, print media components may be signatures of at least one of a book, a magazine, and a catalog. Correspondingly, the system may further include at least one binding machine that binds the signatures together, either via stapling or gluing. In another application of the system of the present invention, the print media components are inserts for a newspaper, and the plurality of print media processing machines include a plurality of inserting machines that dispense the inserts into the newspaper. In yet another application of the system of the present invention, the print media components may be different magazine titles, and the plurality of print media processing machines include a plurality of collating machines that place a magazine title on the conveyor to stack the magazines together.

In accordance with another embodiment, the print media conveyor is elevated relative to the rail. In addition, the supply rack includes a plurality of supply bays, each supply bay being positioned proximate to one of the plurality of print media processing machines for receiving supplies of a print media component that is dispensed by the print media processing machine.

In still another embodiment of the present invention, the system further includes a second plurality of print media processing machines, a second supply rack positioned proximate to the second plurality of print media processing machines, a second rail positioned substantially parallel to the second supply rack, a second S/R machine with at least one shuttle, and a second storage rack positioned adjacent to the second rail, the shuttle being operable to enter the second storage rack to retrieve a reserve supply of print media components stored therein. In accordance with still another embodiment, the second storage rack includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays, and the S/R machine further includes a vertically extending mast and a vertically movable carriage to elevate the shuttle for entry into the plurality of vertically arranged storage bays.

Thus, in the preferred implementation of the present invention, the S/R machine of the print media manufacturing system is operable to position the shuttle along the storage rack, to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components stored therein using the shuttle, to position the shuttle along the supply rack, and to deliver the retrieved reserve supply of print media components thereto using the shuttle.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a print media manufacturing system is provided which includes a print media conveyor for conveying print media thereon, a plurality of print media processing machines positioned along the print media conveyor, the print media processing machines being adapted to dispense print media components to the print media conveyor, an automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machine including a shuttle and being adapted to travel substantially parallel to the print media processing machines, and a storage rack that stores reserve supply of print media components used by the plurality of print media processing machines. In accordance with the present invention, the S/R machine is operable to position the shuttle along the storage rack, and the shuttle is operable to enter the storage rack to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components stored therein, and deliver the retrieved reserve supply of print media components to the plurality of print media processing machines.

These and other advantages and features of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention when viewed in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a print media manufacturing system in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention but with the overhead storage bays not shown for clarity purposes.

FIG. 2 is an exemplary sectional view of print media manufacturing system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows an example storage bay of the storage rack in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 4 shows an example pallet that can be used to store print media components in the storage bay.

FIG. 5 shows an example shuttle in accordance with one implementation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 shows a top plan view of a print media manufacturing system 10 in accordance with one preferred embodiment of the present invention. As will be evident from the discussion below, the print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention substantially reduces, or even eliminates, the need for a separate warehouse facility and operations for retrieving the print media components. Correspondingly, the print media manufacturing system 10 significantly reduces costs associated with such a separate warehouse facility and operations, including amount of manual labor required. The print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention is especially advantageous for use in the commercial print industry where books, magazines and catalogs are manufactured, as well as in the newspaper industry, and the magazine collation industry. In this regard, the present invention integrates an automate storage/retrieval system with the binding, inserting, and collating lines that are commonly used in these industries.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the print media manufacturing system 10 includes print media conveyors 14 for conveying print media thereon. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, two parallel print media conveyors 14 are provided. However, in other implementations, only one print media conveyor may be provided for conveying print media thereon. A plurality of print media processing machines 16 are positioned along a side of the print media conveyors 14. The print media processing machines 16 are machines utilized in the printing industry, and are adapted to dispense print media components to the print media being conveyed on the print media conveyors 14.

For example, the print media processing machines 16 may include a plurality of hoppers that dispense one print media component at a time such as signatures of a book, a magazine, or a catalog. Correspondingly, the print media manufacturing system 10 may further include a binding machine that binds the signatures together, either via stapling or gluing. In another application of the system 10 of the present invention, the print media components may be inserts for a newspaper, and the plurality of print media processing machines 16 may include a plurality of inserting machines that dispense the inserts into the newspaper. In still another application of the system 10 of the present invention, the print media components may be different magazine titles, and the plurality of print media processing machines 16 may include a plurality of collating machines that stack the different magazines together so that they can be bound.

The print media manufacturing system 10 in accordance with the preferred embodiment also includes a storage rack 20 that is adapted to store reserve supplies of print media components such as signatures, inserts, or magazines that are used by the plurality of print media processing machines 16. FIG. 2 is a sectional view of print media manufacturing system 10 shown in FIG. 1 that more clearly illustrates the storage rack 20 and various other components of the print media manufacturing system 10.

As most clearly shown in FIG. 2, the storage rack 20 includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays 22 into which pallets of reserve supply of media components are stored. Of course, FIG. 2 merely shows a partial view, and the storage rack 20 may extend upwardly with the plurality of vertically arranged storage bays 22 corresponding to the storage requirements of the print manufacturing operations. FIG. 3 shows an example storage bay 22 of the storage rack 20 in accordance with one embodiment. FIG. 4 shows an example pallet 23 that can be used to store print media components in the storage bay 22. Moreover, as shown in the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 2, the storage bays 22 include overhead storage bays that are positioned above the plurality of print media processing machines 16 and the print media conveyor 14. In this regard, it should be noted that in the top plan view of FIG. 1, the overhead storage bays are not illustrated to facilitate understanding of the print media manufacturing system 10.

Referring to both FIGS. 1 and 2, the storage bays of the storage racks 20 which are positioned proximate to the plurality of print media processing machines 16 serve as supply racks 26 that are adapted to receive supplies of print media components, such as signatures, inserts, or magazine titles, that are for immediate use by the plurality of print media processing machines 16. In this regard, the print media components may be unloaded and provided to the corresponding print media processing machines 16 by the operator.

As can be seen in the top plan view shown in FIG. 1, the print media manufacturing system 10 also includes rails 30 that are positioned substantially parallel to the supply racks 26. In this regard, in the illustrated embodiment of the print media manufacturing system 10, the rails 30 are positioned between the supply racks 26 and the storage racks 20. Moreover, as can also be seen in FIG. 2, the preferred implementation of the print media manufacturing system 10 is implemented so that the print media conveyors 14 are elevated relative to the rails 30.

The print media manufacturing system 10 of the illustrated embodiment also includes automated storage and retrieval (S/R) machines 34 that engage the corresponding rails 30 to allow the S/R machine 34 to travel substantially parallel to the supply rack 26 as well as the storage rack 20. Each of the S/R machines 34 include at least one shuttle 38 that is operable to move in a direction perpendicular to the corresponding rail 30 in the manner described in further detail below. FIG. 5 shows an example implementation of a shuttle 38 in accordance with the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 5, each S/R machine 34 is operable to position the shuttle 38 along the storage rack 20 so that it is aligned with a storage bay that stores the pallet of reserve supply of print media components to be retrieved. As noted, the storage rack 20 of the preferred implementation of the print media manufacturing system 10 as shown in FIG. 2 includes a plurality of vertically arranged storage bays for storing the reserve supply of print media components. Correspondingly, the S/R machine 34 is preferably implemented to include a vertically extending mast 36 and a vertically movable carriage 37 that function to elevate the shuttle 38 for entry into the plurality of vertically arranged storage bays to retrieve the print media components stored therein.

Once the shuttle 38 is elevated to the proper storage bay of the storage rack 20, the shuttle 38 is operated to enter the storage bay to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components. In this regard, as most clearly shown in FIG. 5, the shuttle 38 preferably includes drive wheels 39, and a lifting means for lifting the pallet of print media components onto the shuttle 38. In particular, the shuttle 38 may be implemented to include mechanized chains 42, or alternatively, extending arms, which are operable in a synchronized manner with the drive wheels 39 so that the reserve supply of print media components is lifted onto the shuttle 38 as the drive wheels move the shuttle 38 below the reserve supply. The shuttle 38 exits from the storage bay with the pallet of print media components thereon, and returns to the S/R machine 34.

The carriage 37 of the S/R machine 34 is then operated to bring the shuttle 38 to the level of the supply rack 26, and to position the shuttle 38 along the appropriate supply bay 27 of the supply rack 26 for which the retrieved pallet of print media components is to be delivered. Upon proper positioning, the shuttle 38 is operated to deliver the retrieved reserve supply of the print media components into the supply bay 27 of the supply rack 26, reversing the operations used in retrieving the print media components. Each supply bay 27 is positioned proximate to one of the plurality of print media processing machines 16. Thus, the retrieved supplies of a print media component is delivered to the print media processing machine that dispenses the print media component delivered.

The above described coordinated movements of the S/R machine 34, together with the carriage 37, and the shuttle 38, are preferably controlled by a programmable controller 46 which is schematically shown in FIG. 2. Thus, in the manner discussed, the S/R machines 34 of the print media manufacturing system 10 in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention is operable to position the shuttle 38 along the storage rack 20, to retrieve the reserve supply of print media components stored therein using the shuttle 38, to position the shuttle 38 along the supply rack 26, and to deliver the retrieved reserve supply of print media components thereto using the shuttle 28. Suitable implementations of the described S/R machine and shuttle for the print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention can be obtained from WESTFALIA-WST-SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH & CO. KG, of Borgholzhausen, Germany, and through Westfalia Technologies, Inc., of York, Pa., the shuttles being sold under the trademark Satellite®.

To ensure safe access to the delivered supply of print media components, the supply bays 27 of the supply rack 26 are preferably provided with doors 29 as shown in FIG. 2. The doors 29 may be opened or closed by the operator of the print media processing machine 16. In the preferred implementation, the doors 29 are roll-up type doors, and therefore, can bend 90 degrees. Correspondingly, by raising the doors 29 in front of the supply bay 27, the rear of the supply bay 27 station is closed to thereby prevent access into the automated aisle where the S/R machine 34 moves. Thus, for each door 29, access to the corresponding supply bay 27 is denied for the operator of the print media processing machine 16 when the door 29 is closed, but access is allowed from the automated aisle, thereby allowing the shuttle of the S/R machine 34 to deliver the pallet with the print media components such as signatures, inserts, or magazines.

It should be evident from the discussion above that the S/R machine 34 of the print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention can also be used to remove used pallets, initially store the reserve supplies of print media components within the storage rack 20, or rearrange the reserve supplies already stored therein. All of these functions are made possible by the S/R machine 34 which greatly reduces cost associated with print media manufacturing. It should also be noted that whereas in the illustrated embodiment of the print media manufacturing system 10 shown in FIG. 1 is provided with two parallel print media conveyors 14, each having print media processing machines 16 on one side thereof. However, in other embodiments of the present invention, the print media manufacturing system 10 may be implemented to provide one print media conveyor with print media processing machines on both sides thereof.

In view of the discussions above, it should be evident that the print media manufacturing system 10 in accordance with the present invention addresses the various disadvantages of the presently used manufacturing systems, and further provides synergistic benefits that are especially beneficial for the print media industries

In particular, presently, in the newspaper industry, and in the commercial print industry where books, magazines and catalogs are manufactured, as well as in the print media collation industry, print media processing machines and conveyors used are generally located in buildings that are 24 to 40 feet high. Since such equipment is typically no higher than approximately 4 feet high, the space above such machines is presently wasted.

The print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention effectively utilizes this space to thereby merge the warehousing and print media manufacturing into a unified operation and within one facility. Moreover, the print media manufacturing system 10 of the present invention allows the reserve supply of print media components to be replenished at the point of use, on site, in a substantially automated manner. In this regard, the print media manufacturing system 10 embeds the various components and machines of the system within the storage rack with vertically stacked storage bays.

These synergistic benefits and the substantial cost benefits for the print media industries are made possible because the above described print media manufacturing operations involve a long, and substantially straight conveyor line, which even with the print media processing machines, is relatively narrow. In addition, unlike manufacturing lines of many other industries, the print media manufacturing systems used in the print media industries typically do not require substantial number of tools and instruments that need to be positioned overhead. Correspondingly, the implementation of the overhead storage bays in the storage rack 20 is greatly facilitated. In particular, because of these attributes, print media manufacturing lines can be embedded within the storage rack 20 itself in the preferred implementation of the print media manufacturing system 10 as shown in FIG. 2. Such embedding maximizes the use of space, while also integrating the warehousing and manufacturing operations together as previously described, thereby substantially decreasing capital and operational costs.

Thus, the present invention eliminates the need to construct separate buildings to support warehousing and manufacturing of print media as presently required, thereby saving considerable construction and real estate costs. In addition, the implementation of the S/R machines to replenish the print media components used during manufacture of print media, substantially reduces the manual material handling that is presently required, thereby saving considerable operations costs which has not been realized in the print media industries.

While various embodiments in accordance with the present invention have been shown and described, it is understood that the invention is not limited thereto. The present invention may be changed, modified and further applied by those skilled in the art. Therefore, this invention is not limited to the detail shown and described previously, but also includes all such changes and modifications.