Hunter Renovates In-plant, Upgrades Digital Gear
The past few months have brought big changes to the five-employee Print and Mail department at Hunter Engineering Co. Not only did the Bridgeton, Missouri, in-plant undergo a complete renovation, it upgraded two of its production color printers and added a laser cutter/engraver, which is enabling it to create customized gifts for company visitors.
The renovation, which was completed in mid-December, gave the in-plant new flooring, lighting, and furniture, as well as a dedicated HVAC unit with new ductwork and fume extraction. More importantly, the renovation consolidated what had been a multi-room operation.
“I was divided up basically into four rooms, and two of them were very small, with another room between them, and it was not mine,” describes Print and Mail Manager Mike Barnes.
Walls were removed, rooms were enlarged, and now the shop enjoys 3,100 sq. ft. of space. To fill it, the in-plant removed its worn out Konica Minota AccurioPress C6100 and Canon imagePRESS C10000 and replaced them with a pair of Canon imagePRESS V1000s with in-line Plockmatic finishing. “One of them has a stacker, the other one has a punch,” Barnes notes. Also, one has two paper decks, with a total of eight drawers.
“We can do 200-page square-fold, saddle-stitched booklets in-line,” Barnes boasts, though he notes most of the shop’s output comprises sales brochures of between eight and 20 pages, ordered by Hunter’s business consultants.
He’s been keeping the V1000s busy since their late-December installation.
“My first month I put 950,000 clicks on them, between the two,” he reports. That’s up a bit from the shop’s normal monthly color volume of 750,000 impressions, he says. Black-and-white volume — mostly installation and operation manuals for Hunter equipment — is about half a million pages per month, all done on a Konica Minolta AccurioPress 6120.
Barnes has been very pleased with the V1000s so far.
“I love Canon’s quality and consistency,” he says.
The V1000s’ 2,400x2,400-dpi output and front-to-back registration are impressive, he says. A sensing unit reads every sheet as it comes out, checks registration and color tone, and adjusts them on the fly, he says. Having two machines with matching output is proving to be a great asset.
“We can switch jobs between them,” he notes. “That was something we didn’t have before because the Konica and the Canon never printed quite the same color.”
Even though the V1000s and the equipment they replaced had the same rated speeds, the new units are still faster, he says, thanks to the finishing.
“The Plockmatics can keep up with the engine,” he says. “Previously, the Canon finishing unit would slow the engine down some.” Plus, the new Fiery FS500 Pro front end on each printer processes jobs a lot faster.
The new digital color presses have enabled the in-plant to become a 100% on-demand operation.
“We used to keep stacks of brochures on the shelves,” Barnes says. “We don’t do that anymore.”
The in-plant also purchased a BossLaser LS-1420 CO2 laser cutter/engraver in February.
“When we have visitors come in, we like to give them personalized gifts,” Barnes explains. These could range from YETI cups and glassware to a component from one of the company’s products, like a wheel balancer collet.
“They make wonderful desk decorations,” Barnes says. “Engineering was very happy when I bought the engraver.” Operators used to have to stop the production line and reprogram it to engrave the collets. Adding the engraver has made the in-plant more valuable, he says.
The in-plant is also the go-to department for printing building and trade show signage, as well as banners and decals. It added a 64" HP Latex 335 printer/cutter in the fall of 2022, and also has a 54" Mimaki CJV150-130.
The shop’s next move is a Web-to-print system, and Barnes is negotiating with three software suppliers. Once that system is implemented, customers will be able to order personalized materials from an online library, to be printed overnight in the shop, ready for shipping in the morning.
Now in his 12th year at Hunter Engineering, Barnes is extremely pleased with the support his in-plant gets from the company. “The leadership here is very good,” he lauds. “They absolutely understand the value of the print shop.”
Related story: Long and Winding Road to In-plant Success
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.