Digital On Down The Line
In-plants that have moved to a digital workflow have streamlined their operations—saving time and money and eliminating costly errors.
TO REALLY join the digital age and take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer—like faster turnaround times and fewer production errors—in-plants need more than just digital printing gear. Recognizing this, some shops have taken it a bit farther, receiving jobs digitally and often routing them directly to digital output devices.
For example, after the State of Maryland linked its two in-plant sites—one in Baltimore and one in Annapolis—last summer, it eliminated the need for courier services between the two. Sam Cook, director of visual communications and digital imaging, says that 90 percent of the shop's jobs are done on digital equipment. Of that 90 percent, 78 percent of the work is sent electronically to the shop.
The Baltimore-based in-plant houses three Xerox DocuTechs and a DocuColor 40, while the shop in Annapolis is home to another DocuTech. Three graphic artists are employed by the state; they receive files digitally, design them for printing, then electronically send them to the press area.
"Documents come into them via e-mail or through the net," Cook explains. Individual agencies have the ability to reach the in-plant through internal network systems, the Internet, and through PagePath's Launch remote file transfer software. Jobs go directly to the graphic arts unit, which uses Macs and Xerox DigiPath software to enhance them. Files are then electronically sent to be printed. The shop also utilizes an archival storage system through DigiPath, so customers like the Department of Education can store, retrieve, manipulate and print from existing files on-demand. The state currently has over 200 files stored this way.
Cook says the transformation from an offset operation to a digital shop has boosted the amount of work the shop does. It currently produces 35 million impressions annually, compared to about 20 million that the shop was doing just a few years ago. The amount of color work has skyrocketed since the addition of the DocuColor 40, although a 1960 Multigraphics press is still used to do some two- and three-color work. Cook feels his customers are comfortable with the quality and speed of the digital output, and the ease of ordering right from their desk.