Practicing What They Preach
In-plants serving printing equipment manufacturers not only produce printed work, but also lend a hand in planning equipment improvements.
Back In 1997, A.B.Dick came up with a plan. The Niles, Ill.-based company wanted to resurrect its in-plant and use it both to showcase its products and test its new equipment.
With that goal in mind, Greg Zanoni was picked to serve as corporate demonstration floor and print shop manager. Now, two years later, Zanoni's in-plant produces about 98 percent of A.B.Dick's printed work, including all of its business stationery and marketing materials.
What's more, the 3,900-square-foot in-plant doubles as a demonstration center where customers can bring in their own files and have them run on a press that they are considering buying.
To serve this purpose, Zanoni explains that all equipment in the shop must be up-to-date. He says equipment usually stays on the floor for about six months, then is replaced.
But Zanoni's shop is not unique. Many vendors are operating thriving in-plants—not just to print jobs for their parent companies, but to also serve as working demonstrations of how their equipment operates.
Impressive Vendor In-plants
Heidelberg maintains four major tech centers, as well as seven smaller in-plant/demonstration centers, located at each of its 11 regional offices across the country. These facilities are used to both produce internal printed materials and to demonstrate equipment to potential customers. Larry Kroll, director of consulting and training, says the nationwide network of in-plants began operating about a year ago.
"The real reason was to give our press demonstrators more practical experience in a day-to-day production environment," Kroll explains. "Those are really high-pressure situations for our operators, because [their] performance may or may not contribute to the sale of a multi-million-dollar press."
Since customers often come into vendor's shops to see equipment, Zanoni says he must make A.B.Dick's shop a "showplace," keeping the machinery looking good. Zanoni also points out that by having an in-plant right where A.B.Dick's engineers are planning new equipment, suggestions can be made for improving future equipment. He feels A.B.Dick's shop has become a major sales aid, since customers can actually see work being produced.