In-plants that have integrated digital printing systems into their shops are racing ahead and not looking back.
IN JULY of 1997, CCH, of Riverwoods, Ill., made a bold move. The publisher decided to retire two of its offset presses and bring in digital printing equipment to produce its business law publications.
The goal was to do away with the practice of overprinting and warehousing books, as well as to increase quality and make it easier to update materials. But CCH had to find a product with dynamic database management capabilities that could print on 8.6-pound bond—akin to the paper in phone books.
"IBM made a commitment to make our paper run reliably through their equipment," says Rick Skipton, project manager. For that reason, he chose an IBM InfoPrint 4000 with IBM InfoPrint software and a Roll Systems paper feeder.
This addition, Skipton says, has cut paper costs in half, freed up 120,000 square feet of storage and processing space, eliminated human error and allowed the shop to offer 24-hour turnaround times.
"We print just-in-time, on-demand," Skipton says.
Thanks to digital printing equipment, in-plants everywhere are able to boast similar capabilities. Xerox DocuTechs have turned hundreds of in-plants into on-demand printers, and now digital color equipment is adding color to the equation. Devices like the Agfa Chromapress, the Indigo E-Print, the Xerox DocuColor 40 and the T/R Systems Cluster System are allowing in-plants to provide short-run color right from digital data. And the savings are tremendous.
Skipton says that in its offset days, his shop printed about one billion pages per year.
"We would do overruns of items and put them into stock," he explains. Two-thirds of these items ended up being thrown away. Now things are different.
"When an order comes in from our customers, that order is automatically routed to the print-on-demand area. It goes in, pulls the materials it needs out of the database, sends them to the printer and it prints them. The first time we actually touch the order is when we pull it off the back of the printer, completely up to date and ready to ship to the customer."