In-plants with Inkjet Discuss Its Many Benefits
During the Inkjet Summit, the two dozen in-plant managers in attendance heard from a panel of four managers whose in-plants have already made the inkjet transformation — and who are now looking to add additional inkjet presses. IPG Editor Bob Neubauer moderated the discussion, asking about their experiences with inkjet and the benefits it has brought.
One concern expressed by several in-plants at the summit was that the quality of inkjet printing might not be acceptable to their customers. The panel acknowledged that inkjet quality is not offset quality, but said that’s not always necessary, especially for transactional printing.
“The type of work we put on that machine, it’s going to have a shelf life of maybe a day, maybe two days,” noted Mike Lincoln, Colorado’s state printer, whose shop installed a Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 MP. “It’s all statement printing.”
“The quality was good enough to sell,” added Tom Markman, operations manager at Wolters Kluwer. In addition to his shop’s Xerox Trivor 2400 inkjet press, he said, the in-plant also runs 15 toner printers, which can be used to satisfy quality-conscious customers.
“When you see the work that comes off of it, a photo of a person isn’t going to be as good on a ‘business print,’ but the work that it puts out — with the right paper and color management — is beautiful. It’s a great machine,” testified Amy Bellows, manager of Corporate Support Services at Mutual of Omaha, whose in-plant uses a Xerox Brenva. “So we are slowly working with some of our business partners within Mutual to at least let us print the guts of some of their materials…on the Brenva, and doing the covers on the iGens.”
One caution several managers had for their peers was to set up their workflow before adding an inkjet press.
“Our printer is going so fast we cannot possibly feed it fast enough. You’re sending hundreds of PDFs to it. So you’ve got to figure out your workflow,” advised Markman. “How am I going to get my jobs accumulated … and get them onto that press so it just runs? You’re burning 300 ft. of paper every time it stops to get it going again.”
Running a job and then letting the press stop until the next job is ready is not going to be a feasible approach, he explained.
“We’re getting completed jobs in one or two minutes,” he said.
Finishing is the other component that in-plants have to figure out before installing the press, as Lincoln learned the hard way. His in-plant selected a paper that provided great results on press — but didn’t play well with the finishing equipment.
“The treated stock was gumming up the rollers on the inserters,” he said. “And then when we finally landed on another stock that we thought was the right stock it was too heavy. It moved our 1 oz. mail to 2 oz. mail. Cost us a lot of money with that error.”
Ask your vendor a lot of questions, added the manager of a large insurance company’s in-plant, which replaced seven toner printers with two monochrome Canon ColorStream 3700 inkjet presses.
“The main thing that I wish that I would have done is talk to the vendor specifically about maintenance and what’s required,” he said. For example, what if a print head goes out? How long will it take to replace it? But he added, “These things are very stable,” and the uptime of inkjet presses is great.
“We have more downtime on our post[press] than we do on our printer,” affirmed Markman.
“That machine’s running 96% to 98% uptime,” added Lincoln. “The reliability is second to none. I think all the platforms show that same level of reliability.”
As for the amount of volume needed to keep an inkjet press profitable, Lincoln said his operation averages 7-8 million impressions a month, but has done 16 million on occasion.
Markman said his shop converted inkjet paper volume into miles for the benefit of senior management.
“We consider a good day to be about 35 miles of paper,” he said.