IPMA 2022 Recap: The Benefits of Automation
In June, nearly 140 in-plant managers and other attendees got together for the first time in three years for the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference. It was packed with informative sessions, many led by in-plant managers.
In one morning general session, managers from Blue Valley Schools, in Overland Park, Kansas, talked about how automation and workflow software have helped them keep up with the growing volume of printing despite having fewer staff to do the work.
Jason Gillam and Bruce La Londe noted that their eight-employee in-plant prints about 72 million impressions per year with peaks of 2,000 orders per day. Using Web-to-print and output management software from Rochester Software Associates, jobs are received, processed, and printed automatically, and staff doesn’t need to touch them until they hit the output tray. One operator runs multiple printers.
Automation, they said, allows them to easily handle numerous small jobs with minimal intervention. This frees up operators to spend more time on jobs with special needs or higher value. Automation also gives the shop more time to seek out new service offerings that add value. The in-plant has been able to focus more attention on its exploding wide-format business, for example.
The in-plant uses software to help with supply chain management too. If a requested stock is unavailable, the software rules can be adjusted to automatically assign a different sheet to that job. When stock prices change, staff can quickly adjust job prices to cover their costs. Production data collected by the software tells managers which stocks are most (and least) used so they know what to order.
Related story: IPMA 2022: A Welcome Reunion
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.