New Stitcher Equips Missouri State University to Handle Key University Project
Looking for a near-line finishing system to help it develop a variable data viewbook for the Enrollment Management and Services department, Missouri State University Printing and Postal Services purchased a Duplo iSaddle in July 2019. The saddle stitcher features a 10-bin tower collator, a 6mm gutter cut knife module for two-up production, and an intelligent feed system for producing variable data publications.
“The iSaddle has barcode readers to read the page count, making sure that we get the right cover with the right inside pages,” explains Manager Mark McCarty. “It was the main reason we bought it. [This] is a project that has been at work for well over a year, and we needed something to [ensure] that we were getting the right information.”
The 28-page Admissions viewbook has 11 pages of variable data and a total of 88 individual variables, making the need for efficient variable data printing essential. The barcode scanning kit and gutter trim have made the Duplo iSaddle not only ideal for this project but have led to the production of many other strategic enrollment management (SEM) variable data projects.
“SEM projects are really a hot button at our university right now,” McCarty reports. “We do the variable data viewbook, which is probably the biggest piece of that puzzle. We have some junior and senior ACT tabbed postcards that are kind of gatefold postcards. And then we have junior and senior search letters and we have several academic interest letters and postcards.”
After installing the Duplo iSaddle, McCarty was interested in buying a separate stack feeder — a Duplo DSF-6000 sheet feeder with a DSF-6000 CFL cover feeder added to it — to speed up production but didn’t want to exceed his $150,000 budget. Once the in-plant began working with various departments on campus to develop more SEM projects, though, the shop was given permission to install the stacker, which it did in October 2019.
“Adding the stacker has increased the speed of the output of the machine,” McCarty says. “It’s highly programmable, [and] it’s a great machine. The tower collator has 10 bins, but you can only put about 350 sheets in each bin. And even if you program it so that when it runs out of one, it goes to the next bin, it still has to stop and adjust between each bin. For the stacker, I can put about 3,000 sheets of paper and it just continually runs, and it never stops.”
In December of 2019, Printing and Postal Services, Enrollment Management and Services, and Editorial and Design Services gave a presentation to the university’s Board of Governors on present and future SEM projects, highlighting evidence of growth achieved from these variable data projects.
“[We] had analytics from Web services that show how our Web traffic improved once we started mailing these pieces out,” McCarty says. “Between the variable data viewbook, and the ACT tabbed postcards, and the fact that the university did away with all application fees ... those three things in combination scored us a 2,500% increase in Web traffic from November to December.”
The Board of Governors was extremely pleased with the in-plant’s work and was impressed with the collaboration between three different departments to create these variable data pieces, McCarty explains.
“We had samples done up with their names on them, and they were very pleased with what they were seeing,” he says. The board singled out the print shop, and recognized McCarty for all of his work.
The presentation has led to a growth in SEM committees across campus, getting other divisions and colleges within the university involved in using variable data projects to recruit students. According to McCarty, this involvement is helping students and faculty understand the importance of print.
“[SEM committees] are reporting that print is not dead,” McCarty says. “You cannot recruit by email alone. And I’m optimistic that for the next year or two, we’re going to see a lot of new work coming in that we probably haven’t done in the past; totally new recruitment material.”
Outside of these variable data projects, the in-plant has plans for more growth in the future. McCarty has his eye on additional equipment investments, including finishing equipment such as a slitter and a scoring/perforating machine.
“We have a digital envelope printer, but we’re looking to buy a newer, better one,” McCarty adds. “And our offset equipment is fairly old and outdated, and by the end of this calendar year, we will probably eliminate all of it.”
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