Digital Press Upgrade Brings ‘Unbelievable’ Results at Minnkota Power
For Minnkota Power Cooperative Print & Mail Services, the switch from offset to digital a few years ago was the best thing the in-plant could have done. The ability to produce short-run work on its Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C1100, along with a new black-and-white bizhub PRO 951, brought a 45% increase in the number of jobs the shop was producing.
“That’s what opened up the door for our success,” remarks Troy Ahonen, print production supervisor at the two-employee Grand Forks, N.D., operation.
Since its installation in 2014, the digital press has churned out nearly six million impressions, Ahonen says, and as a result was starting to show some wear and tear. It’s backup registration was not always precise, he says.
“We were three years into a five-year lease,” says Ahonen, so an upgrade seemed a long way off.
A Solution is Proposed
Then the in-plant’s technology provider, Marco Technologies, in St. Cloud, Minn., suggested Ahonen check out the new 100-ppm Konica Minolta AccurioPress C6100 digital color press. Ahonen was impressed, particularly with its Integrated Color Care Unit IQ-501, which provides automatic color adjustment, automatic front-to-back registration and real-time color and registration adjustment on the fly.
“I was really amazed at how that IQ unit works,” he says.
Marco offered the in-plant a great deal to get out of its previous lease and start a new one, for only a little more money per month.
“I had to convince senior management that this was a good idea,” says Ahonen. He was successful, and in November 2017, the AccurioPress C6100 was installed. Ahonen is beyond pleased with the results.
“Sheet one is sellable,” he says. “We don’t have any skew or misregistration from front to back. It’s just unbelievable.”
When originally researching digital presses, Ahonen looked at all the major manufacturers, but he was most impressed with Marco’s service. The company was already supplying Minnkota’s fleet of MFPs. To test the bizhub PRESS C1100, he sent paper and job files to Marco in advance of his visit and liked the resulting prints. But when it came time to test the Accurio-Press C6100, he brought the paper and files himself so the vendor would have no opportunity to prepare and adjust the machine. It didn’t matter. He was very impressed with the 1,200x1,200-dpi output.
“Sheet one was good,” he says.
Ahonen advises other in-plants looking at new equipment to “do your research.” Negotiate a firm click rate up front, and try to avoid escalators that raise your rates after a few years. Treat your vendor like a partner, he says, and find a middle ground between that company’s need to make money and your in-plant’s need to cut costs.
One thing his in-plant has found useful is to get a second fuser for the C6100. Ahonen says that after running a lot of 8.5x11˝ sheets, there is a noticeable paper dent on the fuser. So when switching to a new paper size, the shop also switches fusers.
Related story: Northern Excellence
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.