BLIND SA INVESTS IN A POLAR 115X GUILLOTINE

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Blind SA, a non-profit organisation by the blind for the blind, has acquired a Polar 115X guillotine which promises uncompromising reliability, first class service, maximum security, operator friendly layout and high resale value. Polar high-speed cutters are the core component in finishing work.

Braille Services is the braille production division of Blind SA, and has been printing braille since 1953. Currently they are the largest braille producer in South Africa and are also the only producer of braille in all of SA’s official languages, producing around four million pages per year.

We widely consulted with various industry leaders before deciding on the Polar: while our old German manufactured guillotine served us well for more than 40 years, we were skeptical of the life expectancy of the machines from the East. The Polar’s sturdy construction, strong knife mechanism and well-designed computer software made the decision easy. Another huge plus is the ease of maintenance – as all grease points are easy to reach. Operators are more inclined to stick to the maintenance schedule, thus extending the life of the machine, said Philip Jordaan, Manager of Blind SA Braille Services.

Historically, the size of a sheet used for brailling was set at 340mm x 510mm (double page) and most major paper producers around the world had this as a standard stock item. Cut this in half and you ended up with a standard sheet (340mm x 255mm) ready for use in the Perkins brailler, the typewriter used by blind people all over the world. This was the main reason for Braille Services to purchase its first guillotine in the mid-1960’s – to trim the standard sheet in half for use as braille master sheets on the Perkins broiler, said Jordaan.

With the advent of the computer era, braille production changed from a manual, labour-intensive and very low process to a highly technical one. The newly designed electronic braille embossers required different paper sizes and newly appointed blind office workers as well as professionals required A4-size braille paper (to fit in a standard A4 file in the office environment).  

With the arrival of our democracy in 1994, Africa opened up as a major export market for the sale of braille paper in all sizes and grades.

To address this demand, Blind SA made a decision in the mid-1980s to substantially upgrade its Braille Services division: the latest in electronic embosser technology and braille translation software were imported from the USA, followed by the introduction of a Heidelberg GT press in the late 1990s – still the only high-speed braille duplicating press in South Africa. A few years ago, they imported the first high-speed braille paper embosser from Belgium, and have now completed the process with the purchase of the Polar guillotine.

We also received excellent training from Heidelberg’s side – all of a sudden we had guillotine operators that could set up cutting programmes all by themselves! We would like to thank Heidelberg for their interest shown in our organisation and their expert guidance in assisting us in choosing the right product for our operation. The strong technical know-how of their technicians, friendly manner and excellent training to our operators comes highly recommended, said Jordaan.

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