From the Editor: Summer Projects
Summer is not my favorite season, and this one seems hotter and stickier than usual. I’m walking a lot slower these days, trying not to overheat. (It’s not really working.)
Things are pretty slow in the industry right now, too—the lull before the Graph Expo storm. So I thought I’d check in with a handful of in-plants to hear what summer is like in their shops. For some, it’s a slow time, when they focus on installing equipment and training. For many, though, there’s nothing at all slow about the summer months.
“My neighbors think since I work for a university it must be nice to have summers off,” chuckles Mark McCarty, of Missouri State University. “Boy are they wrong. We’re swamped.”
Since the school’s fiscal year started on July 1, departments have been flush with cash and are ordering all their letterhead and business cards. Fall course pack orders kick in now too.
“We are up to our ears right now with back-to-school stuff,” confirms Doug Fenske, of Minnesota State University-Mankato.
“We seem to be perpetually short-staffed,” remarks John Wesseling, of the University of Cincinnati. Popular summer session classes are also generating additional print work, he says, adding volume to the summer months.
For Chris Anderson, summers used to be slow at Deseret Mutual Benefits Administrators, but with most work now printed on-demand and becoming more complex, “we are starting to see the seasonal peaks and valleys disappear,” he says.
At California State University, San Bernardino, not only is there no drop in orders, the shop is seeing heavier volumes in its secure shredding operation as offices purge outdated records, student papers, exams and more. Manager Laura Sicklesteel tries to squeeze in equipment maintenance and cleaning in the summer months too.
Staff vacations can make even normal work volumes seem hectic.
Likewise, at the University of Alaska-Anchorage—where it was a blistering 67 the day I wrote this—summer is a time to take care of projects, like updating inventory sheets and labeling shelves. Staff has also been training on the shop’s new HP Latex 360 printer and Graphtec cutter, upgrading its MIS to PrintSmith Vision and training on EFI Digital StoreFront Essential.
At The World Bank Group, summer is when the shop tests new substrates on its presses and conducts technical experiments that it never has time for during the year.
At the State of Oregon’s in-plant, where volume does taper off a bit in summer, the shop schedules equipment upgrades in the hot months.
"We plan our new equipment and software acquisitions around this time to minimize the disruption it can have," says State Printer Tim Hendrix. "This year we refreshed our high speed digital print equipment and just last month replaced all our mail inserters."
Oregon has had an extremely hot summer this year, says Hendrix. The heat wears down his shuttle drivers, who make more than 550 stops a day.
Some shops boost morale with potluck lunches and ice cream socials. And when the air conditioning goes down—as it did one summer at the State of Tennessee’s in-plant—that ice cream sure cools tempers down nicely.
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 more than 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.