Inkjet Replaces Six Toner Devices at Indiana In-plant
Because new digital presses are so much more productive than legacy digital presses, it’s understood that an in-plant installing a new device probably will retire more than one piece of existing equipment as part of the process.
But one inkjet press taking over 100% of the workload from six toner boxes? Any in-plant professional could be excused for viewing that kind of exchange as a somewhat scary roll of the dice.
At the in-plant of the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance network, however, a six-for-one press swap was no gamble: it was an investment in production efficiency that has lost no time in paying off for Michele Woodrum and her staff of 14 at the Indianapolis, Ind., facility.
The machine that succeeded the toner equipment is a Canon Océ VarioPrint i300 inkjet press, installed in January of this year along with a Canon imagePRESS C10000VP. Woodrum says there’s nothing the old equipment could do that the VarioPrint i300 can’t run circles around.
“We just produce it quicker, and with less headaches,” she says.
“Quicker” means printing in two and a half hours what took six and a half hours on the color toner press the shop used to rely on. “Less headaches” is what Woodrum and her team experience thanks to the 98% uptime performance the inkjet press has logged so far. That’s a major gain in reliability over its breakdown-prone predecessors and a big reason why selecting the VarioPrint i300 was “a no-brainer” for the in-plant, Woodrum says.
The shop is an all-digital, print-to-mail operation serving a membership-based insurance organization that provides home, auto, life, farm, commercial and church coverage to customers throughout the Hoosier state. At 2.5 million pieces per month, the in-plant’s output consists mostly of applications, invoices, policy documents, postcards and other transactional items. About 80% of this enters the mailstream, according to Woodrum, team leader of Mail and Print Services.
About three years ago, she says, management saw a need to recover production of the higher-end marketing materials it was outsourcing — an insight that led to the decision to install the C10000VP at the same time as the i300. The latter machine “came in through the window” on January 16, 2018, because two sections of it were too big to squeeze into the building’s service elevator.
The i300’s large footprint befits its status as a high-output color inkjet press. Capable of printing more than 17,000 letter sized impressions per hour at 600x600 dpi, the system is rated for 10 million such impressions per month. It handles sheet sizes up to 13.8x19.7˝ and, using a technology called ColorGrip, can image a range of offset uncoated, offset coated and inkjet-treated stocks.
High-gloss coated stocks remain outside its capability, but Woodrum thinks that limitation will eventually be overcome. Given that Canon continually expands the approved stock list for the VarioPrint i300, she says, “what we can’t run now, we may be able to run in three weeks.”
What it all adds up to is a press that Woodrum calls “perfect” for transactional work in terms of quality — “and its runs.” That means standing up to many hours of continuous operation over two 12-hour shifts per day in a 24/7/365 environment. The in-plant doesn’t run the i300 literally nonstop, but if it came to that, Woodrum is confident the shop could. The press is so productive, she says, that on the few occasions when it has needed to go offline, it had already begun turning out the next day’s work.
One of its major contributions to productivity is something that can’t be measured in impressions per hour but is crucial to ROI nonetheless.
“The engagement of the team was worth the investment in the i300,” Woodrum declares, explaining that her operators simply enjoy running it. There’s “no hesitation” whenever it’s someone’s turn to crew the machine, and that kind of employee enthusiasm, she says, is the key to getting top-quality work from it.
The VarioPrint i300 is the centerpiece of a 1,260-sq.-ft. section within the headquarters of the Indiana Farm Bureau, a grassroots farm advocacy organization established in 1919. Removing the six toner devices and freeing up space in the data center permitted a complete remodeling of the print shop, which is also home to the imagePRESS C10000VP and a wide-format printer.
Woodrum says the in-plant is using the C10000VP to determine what kinds of outsourced work it can begin to self-produce. Also being measured is the savings that inkjet with the VarioPrint i300 is expected to yield, compared with toner production. Inkjet ink, according to Woodrum, is not only more economical than toner, it’s more environmentally friendly and easier to dispose of.
The in-plant looked at inkjet equipment from suppliers other than Canon, but testimonials from VarioPrint i300 users swung the decision in Canon’s favor. Another factor, Woodrum says, was the appeal of “the relationship investment with Canon” that selecting the device would establish. In her opinion, the company “far exceeds anyone else” in terms of commitment to the customer.
“It’s so refreshing,” she says.
In an equipment acquisition scenario, however, the most important relationship is the one between the in-plant and its parent organization. Woodrum says approval for the VarioPrint i300 was readily given by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance “because they trust us to make good decisions.”
The soundness of the decision seems beyond dispute.
“It’s been well worth the investment,” Woodrum declares. “The machine is producing the way we said it would.”
Patrick Henry is the director of Liberty or Death Communications. He is also a former Senior Editor at NAPCO Media and long time industry veteran.