Inkjet Upgrade Fuels Expansion Into Postcards for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
As one of the first in-plants to add a production inkjet press back in 2013, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) Document Services has enjoyed great success with inkjet. Its Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 AD3/AD4 allowed the in-plant to add full color to transactional documents, such as monthly health summaries, while bringing substantial savings to the Rochester, N.Y.-based nonprofit health insurance company.
As the end of its five-year lease on the InfoPrint 5000 approached, however, Director Catherine Ciardi and her team began considering how they could further harness the benefits of inkjet to bring even more work in-house — especially as some of the in-plant’s traditional work was being lost to electronic communications.
“We wanted to do more targeted marketing material,” Ciardi says.
So a year ago, Document Services traded in its InfoPrint 5000 for a new Ricoh Pro VC40000 continuous-feed inkjet press. Configured with Standard Hunkeler unwinding and rewinding gear, a Hunkeler DP6 dynamic perforator and an IBIS Smart Binder, the entire system is 186´ long. The facility was remodeled to fit the equipment.
The VC40000 produces resolutions of 600x600 dpi, using variable drop sizes that result in higher perceived resolution. It can print on a wider variety of substrates than the previous inkjet press.
“We can now do gloss work,” Ciardi proclaims.
This has allowed the shop to begin printing targeted postcards with open enrollment information, a huge opportunity. Over the next four months, Ciardi expects to print 1.2 million postcards.
“Having more substrates available to us definitely has helped,” she says.
The inkjet press can easily handle runs in the 300,000 to 1 million range, which are not ideal for the in-plant’s Kodak NexPress or new Ricoh Pro C9210, both cut-sheet devices.
The upgrade to 600x600 dpi on the VC40000 has boosted the quality of the in-plant’s work.
“There’s not as much pixilation on the type,” Ciardi says. “Our marketing department likes [the improved quality]. I think it’s got a sharper image.”
With six years of inkjet experience, Ciardi feels comfortable offering advice to her in-plant peers who are just starting to look into inkjet — chiefly, don’t just look at the hardware.
“Understand what papers you can run, understand your consumable cost from an ink perspective and a paper perspective, and make sure that paper can run through your inserters,” she advises.
With 33 employees in its Rochester printing facility, and another 19 in its Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica locations, Document Services prints a variety of items for the company such as transactional documents, contract booklets, provider directories and marketing campaign materials. The new inkjet press is improving the quality of these pieces while allowing them to be produced more quickly and efficiently.
“Things are going really well,” Ciardi says.
Related story: Excellus BCBS Named Mail Center of the Year
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 nearly 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, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.