Dissecting Digital Decisions
In the first installment of our Great Debate series, two industry leaders discuss what went into their decisions to buy—or not buy—a digital press.
When digital color printing burst upon the graphic arts world, a number of printers jumped into it, convinced they would find their fortunes. After all, "print-on-demand" was the latest catch phrase, and that was exactly what these presses were made for.
But after snapping them up, a lot of commercial printers discovered that they didn't have the appropriate workloads to keep their investments busy with profitable work.
In-plants, at the mercy of their parent organizations' budgets, were far more cautious. Many looked into the technology—represented most recognizably by Indigo, Xeikon and Heidelberg—and several purchased presses. Others decided that a digital press didn't fit their markets. But why?
To get a look at the factors behind these tough decisions, IPG tracked down the managers of two of the country's largest in-plants: Jack Mondin, of USAA, and Bob Tierney, of Allstate.
Each has over $15 million in his printing budget. Each conducted a careful study. Tierney bought an Indigo; Mondin did not. What was their reasoning? IPG brought them together to find out.
IPG: Why did you buy a digital press?
Tierney: Our main reason for the Indigo was obviously to answer the [need for] short-run, color turnaround. We did not buy the Indigo to allow us to get into new markets for personalization. We didn't say, 'O.K. Allstate, now we've got something, why don't you go out and see if we can find some work for it.' We bought it to [output] some of the short-run color, and be able to address some of the turnaround that we could not address in the offset world.
We also felt that the Indigo provided some capacity for some insourcing work. And we're doing it. We're actually insourcing with it. We've had full day production on insourcing work, just on the Indigo.