Don't Fight It, Embrace It
By championing the move to integrate in-plant and data center printing, an in-plant can expand its services while boosting its presence and prestige.
Consider this scenario: two departments operate similar equipment. One runs a day shift. The other functions primarily at night. By sharing equipment, the two departments could institute an efficient, two-shift operation, cutting equipment costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What manager in his or her right mind wouldn't want to integrate the two departments? In many organizations, however, the two departments still function separately. Those departments, if you haven't guessed, are the data center and in-plant printing departments.
Far from losing control, an in-plant that champions the move to shared printing will gain control over additional services, expanding its domain and boosting the department's presence and prestige.
Before embracing this idea, however, in-plant managers should build a cost justification based on an analysis of the current costs of equipment and personnel for each area—and the anticipated costs of a shared print stream.
Let's start with equipment issues. Your equipment is not getting any younger. Neither is the data center's. Instead of upgrading two sets of equipment, it's usually more fiscally responsible to consolidate and then upgrade. Uniting these print streams allows you to justify top-of-the-line equipment that combines the dazzling speed enjoyed by the data center and the superior resolution required by in-plant applications.
Companies have considered integrating these print streams for years, but were blocked by the incompatibility of the workflows. Such obstacles have been removed with modern high-speed printers that run Adobe PDF, PostScript and PCL documents, as well as AFP data streams. These devices offer 600 dpi and speeds of 500 to 1,000 pages a minute.
The fairly large capital investment required for this ambidextrous equipment must be offset by cost savings and efficiencies created by high-level performance and rapid throughput. Specific equipment configurations should be based on workflow time charts. You may be able to reduce or eliminate overflow digital printing currently outsourced by both departments. That savings should be factored into the cost model, as well.