BCBS of Tennessee Installs Two Inkjet Presses
The insurance business generates a lot of paper. This is great news for the in-plants that provide all that printing. Unlike in other industries, where in-plants have watched print volumes decline, insurance industry in-plants are challenged with keeping up with a growing demand for printed materials.
That’s what the Print Solutions department at BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) of Tennessee has witnessed as the company’s business has expanded. The largest health plan company in Tennessee, BCBS of Tennessee boasts more than 3.5 million members in the state and throughout the country, all of whom receive materials printed by the in-plant. With this in mind, Manager David Gaines and his team looked at the in-plant’s arsenal of offset and digital toner devices and realized they needed to make some changes.
“Our digital growth has been exponential over the past three to five years, so we knew we needed to do something else besides keep buying more cut-sheet digital toner devices,” Gaines says. “We’re here to serve, and in that capacity we knew we needed something to turn around the work faster.”
To accomplish this, the 30-employee in-plant has installed not one but two production inkjet presses: a Xerox Trivor 2400 in July and a Memjet-powered Super Web WEBJet 200D in October. The Trivor is printing transactional documents like letters and explanations of benefits (EOBs), while the WEBJet 200D handles full-color communications like post cards and newsletters.
“So far the inkjet platform has been a win-win,” proclaims Gaines.
Impressive Turnaround Times
Thanks to inkjet, Print Solutions has been able to cut turnaround times drastically — from six to eight weeks for some jobs printed on cut-sheet devices to just one to two weeks printed on continuous-feed inkjet presses.
“The biggest thing is to be able to offer the customer a quicker turnaround,” emphasizes Gaines. “It benefits us greatly to have two CFs [continuous feeds], not so much from a volume standpoint but from a print-on-demand standpoint.”
He projects the in-plant will be producing between 15 and 20 million impressions per month on the two inkjet presses by 2020.
Though Print Solutions removed a continuous-feed Xerox 980 to make way for the two inkjet presses, it retained its four Xerox iGen 5s, two Nuveras, two DocuPrint 180s and a DocuTech 180 highlight color device. The operation’s three offset presses — a Ryobi 662 and a pair of Presstek DI presses — are also still in use for high-volume static jobs.
The Trivor 2400 uses Standard Hunkeler pre and post paper handling equipment. The shop installed a Hunkeler roll-to-cut/stack line inline on the Trivor and also added a near-line Horizon StitchLiner 6000 digital saddlesticher with a Hunkeler unwinder and a CS8 cutter with a Standard VIVA inspection system.
Though Print Solutions runs only uncoated paper on the press, Gaines praises the quality of the output thanks to Xerox high density inks.
“It’s head and shoulders above what we had with the Xerox 980,” he says.
Even better, he adds, is the quality coming off the Super Web WEBJet 200D, which can print on coated and gloss stock. Marketing materials look great, he declares, and some jobs are being moved from the iGens and offset presses onto the inkjet press.
The WEBJet 200D has an integrated paper-handling solution, with a roll-to-cut-sheet configuration. It has an in-line perforating unit that enables the finishing of jobs to be done directly on the press. At speeds of up to 520 fpm the WEBJet 200D can print two-up, duplex, perforate, hole punch, slit, merge and stack jobs at rated speed.
Variable data printing makes up nearly 80% of the work printed on the two inkjet presses, Gaines reports.
The transition to inkjet was surprisingly smooth, Gaines says.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by its ease of use and the ease of transitioning from a CF toner box to an inkjet box,” he says. “Inkjet is very simple and straightforward.”
To keep the presses from stopping between jobs, prepress combines similar jobs so they run together and makes sure jobs flow continuously to the devices. The inkjet presses run for a shift and a half each day, overseen by four operators. Twice a week they perform maintenance and head cleaning. The in-plant did not add roll-handling equipment, but has paper delivered in position to be rolled into place.
Before making the decision to transition to inkjet, Gaines attended the Inkjet Summit and credits that conference with convincing him that inkjet was the right technology for his operation. The most important thing he learned at the Inkjet Summit, he says, was “keep the machines running and you don’t really have any problems, and so far I can say that to be true.”
Though Gaines is comfortable with Print Solutions’ current capabilities, his goal is to continue to eliminate touch points in the workflow. This will help the in-plant accommodate the increase in business that he expects.
“Right now we’re anticipating continued growth,” he affirms. “We’re very excited to see what the future holds.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.