New Research Details In-plant Trends and Services
Today’s in-plants are not the same as the ones that served the market a decade ago. They are leaner, digitally driven operations, focused on new applications like wide-format graphics, and open to utilizing automation to enhance productivity. These characteristics are highlighted in a new research report from In-plant Impressions titled “Trends and Services in the In-plant Industry (2020).”
The data for this report was collected via an online survey conducted in March and early April 2020. We received 154 qualified responses. The full research report, sponsored by C.P. Bourg, is available in the Resources tab on our website and contains a wealth of additional details and charts. Here is an excerpt.
Staff Size and Annual Sales
In-plant operations vary widely in size depending on the needs of their parent organizations. Our research reveals that the average number of employees at an in-plant is 14. This reflects a number of smaller in-plants with one to five employees (53% of respondents fall in this range), as well as several in-plants with more than 40 employees (8% of respondents). The median number of employees in our list of respondents is five.
In-plants are generally supported by an annual operating budget from their parent organization, though in most cases this budget number is more reflective of the annual revenue generated by the in-plant from charging back for its services. The budget figures reported by survey respondents ranged from below $100,000 at small operations with limited capabilities to $45 million at one of the largest in-plants.
Approximately 41% of respondents had budgets in excess of $1 million, and 13% had budgets of more than $5 million. The average operating budget was $2,905,445 and the median budget was $847,000.
Revenue From Services
Digital printing is the most popular service offered by in-plants; 97% of them run digital printing equipment, and
survey respondents say it generates the largest percentage of their revenue — an average of 79%. This is a notable increase from two years ago when in-plants participating in our survey reported digital printing accounted for 61% of their revenue.
That increase has come at the expense of offset printing, which dropped from generating 15% of in-plants’ revenue two years ago to just 5% in our new study. Also lower is the percentage of in-plants with offset presses. Today, 44% still have offset presses, down from 47% in 2018.
Wide-format printing is a service that continues to grow as in-plants utilize new substrate options to produce ever more innovative applications. Currently, 77% of respondents have wide-format capabilities, and they use them to generate an average of 9% of their revenue. These three capabilities — digital, offset, and wide-format printing — are responsible for 93% of in-plants’ revenue, on average.
Comparing our new survey data with IPI’s 2018 in-plant survey, we can see increases in a number of the services inplants offer.
- Wide-format printing is now being provided by 77% of in-plants, up impressively from 69% in 2018.
- The number of in-plants providing variable data printing has climbed from 65% to 75% in the past two years.
- Contour cutting has also jumped, from 16% of in-plants providing it in 2018 to 26% today.
- Scanning/digitizing documents is done by 59% of respondents, compared to 51% in 2018.
One growing value-added service is installing the wall and window graphics being printed with the in-plant’s wide-format equipment. Almost 30% handle this installation themselves, which not only saves money over the cost of hiring outside installers but gives the in-plant considerable visibility in the parent organization, driving new business.
The full research report, sponsored by C.P. Bourg, contains a wealth of additional information and charts detailing
trends in the in-plant industry. Download it free at this link.
Related story: In-plant Salary Survey (2019)
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.