Dipping Their Wings in the Inkjet Pond
If you peek beneath the feathers and webbed feet of the iconic Aflac Duck advertising character, you will find an in-house inkjet printing powerhouse that produces a heavy print workload for insurance industry giant Aflac’s wide customer base.
Located at Aflac’s worldwide headquarters in Columbus, GA, the Support Services group is responsible for producing the bulk of the Fortune 500 company’s transactional printing.
Support Services uses a pair of production inkjet presses to print approximately 95 percent of the company’s transactional printing jobs, both in black-and-white and color. In 2011, Aflac installed a Pitney Bowes IntelliJet 20 roll-to-cut-sheet printing system (based on the HP T200 press) with slitting, merging, cutting and stacking capabilities. The shop added a second IJ20 printer to its fleet last December.
“Together, these two printers, affectionately known as ‘Ben and Franklin,’ process all of Aflac’s transactional print requirements including EOBs, customer letters, customer mail outs, policy covers and policy content across two shifts running at speeds up to 400 feet per minute,” notes Frank Butler, senior manager of Support Services.
The move to inkjet technology allowed the shop to retire eight older machines and free up valuable floor space at the 35-employee in-plant, adds Gillian Seguin, manager of Print and Mail Services.
“We wanted to leverage the growing inkjet industry and become a leader in producing color transactional documents,” Seguin says, noting that the company changed from using 20-lb. bond to 24-lb. stock when it transitioned to inkjet technology. “Even though we didn’t have anything specific in mind, we knew if we brought the technology in, our internal customers would buy in—and they did. We now print over 52 percent of our transactional documents in color.”
Seguin, a 28-year Aflac veteran, began managing Print and Mail five years ago, moving from the inventory management side of the business.
“I broke in with the inkjet printers,” she says with a laugh, recalling that Aflac previously had minimal color on any of its transactional documents.
“We would have highlight color on some documents—just a basic blue or green—but that was about it,” she says, adding that the company knew it needed a solution to add color to its transactional work.
A Two In-plant Company
Aflac actually has two printing divisions: Support Services and Communicorp Inc.