Inkjet Brings Marketable Skills to Inmates
What if every time you fired up your Canon VarioPrint i300+ high-speed sheetfed inkjet press, you were changing someone’s life? This is the excitement of working for PRIDE Enterprises, a Florida-based business that runs vocational training programs for inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections.
PRIDE, which stands for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, helps to lower the recidivism rate and reduce criminal justice costs for the residents of Florida by training inmates on leading-edge job skills. Inmates that complete one of PRIDE’s 35 programs learn vocational skills ranging from commercial printing to furniture and metal work. Armed with these skills, along with additional support from PRIDE and its partners, participants are three times less likely to commit new offenses upon release than non-participants.
“For inmates who go through our program, the recidivism rate is less than 9.36%,” notes David Roberts, general manager, graphics, at PRIDE Enterprises. “Not only do they gain marketable skills and relevant industry certifications, but they are able to get jobs that provide a solid living wage.”
The average starting pay for an inmate who completes one of PRIDE’s programs is $12.95 per hour. PRIDE also assists with clothing, housing, and transportation, such as helping inmates get bus passes and bikes.
A Self-Funded Enterprise
Despite its close working relationship with the Florida Department of Corrections, PRIDE receives no subsidies. As a self-funded enterprise, it must run at optimum efficiency. For its printing plant in Blountstown, Fla., where its commercial graphics training is held, that led to an investment in a Canon VarioPrint i300+ and C.P. Bourg Signature Booklet Making finishing line in early 2020.
“For our participants to be successful, our programs must focus on relevant job skills,” adds Roberts. “Whether it’s running the VarioPrint i300+ high-speed inkjet press or the C.P. Bourg Digital Finishing Line, this training affords them the ability to get jobs with the most useful, relevant skills in the industry.” PRIDE employs 200 free world staff, trains 2,000 daily, and reaches 3,000 to 4,000 inmates every year.
Three Graphics Facilities
PRIDE operates three graphics facilities in Florida, each with a different focus. Its digital facility, which houses its VarioPrint i300+ and C.P. Bourg equipment, is located in Blountstown, Fla., about an hour southwest of Tallahassee. This 44,000-sq.-ft. facility has 150 trainees at capacity, runs two shifts, and uses state-of-the-art technologies and efficient production workflows.
“I invite any commercial printer to put their production facility up against ours,” boasts Roberts.
PRIDE also maintains locations in South Bay, Fla., (16,000 sq. ft. with 75 trainees) for wide-format, flexo, and engraving, and Marion, Fla., (16,000 sq. ft. with 30 trainees) for corrugated printing.
The Blountstown facility trains inmates in a general commercial print shop environment. The operation purchased its first rollfed (black-and-white) inkjet presses in 2016 and added both the VarioPrint i300+ inkjet press and two Canon imagePRESS C10000 toner-based presses in 2020. The shop produces everything from grocery flyers and student planners to pocket folders and variable-data mail.
“We are a full-service graphics house that prints every kind of collateral piece you can imagine, along with school products used in school systems throughout the State of Florida,” says Roberts. “We are also a full mail house. We operate a true, automated digital workflow from stem to stern.”
The Journey to Inkjet
PRIDE began the journey to inkjet just over four years ago. The intent then, as it remains now, was to eventually make a full transition from traditional offset. Over the course of the last four years, the operation has replaced all but two of its 12 offset presses.
“By the end of 2020, we will operate only two offset presses, which we will use primarily to support jobs requiring synthetic substrates,” says Roberts.
PRIDE’s path to full inkjet production has been gradual. It invested in black-and-white rollfed inkjet in 2016, but it was waiting for further maturation before investing in full-color inkjet for its high-quality work.
“Over time, the quality, stock availability, support, and technology [of inkjet] have improved dramatically,” says Roberts. “Once we did a total cost analysis of cost per page for finished goods, which includes overhead, waste, throughput, paper, and materials — all the ancillary costs that are part of the overhead — it became evident that we were ready for four-color inkjet production.”
PRIDE chose the sheetfed format for its cost-effectiveness at a variety of run lengths, as well as its substrate flexibility. The VarioPrint i300+ runs up to 294 ipm, with a monthly volume of between one and 10 million letter-sized pages. The i300+ met PRIDE’s requirement for extremely high graphics quality that is achieved with 600x600-dpi resolution with drop size modulation that produces 1,200-dpi perceived image quality in both images and halftones.
In addition to being able to handle the higher volumes, the VarioPrint i300+ is cost-effective for shorter run lengths, too. This is important since PRIDE is seeing its run lengths regularly drop to 5,000 or less.
“Our customer base is moving more to print-on-demand where inventory is nonexistent,” says Roberts. “They place an order this month, and next month it will be completely different. The VarioPrint i300+ allows them to print in very small runs, with variable content, and make frequent changes at no additional cost. Plus, we are able to produce variable data on coated stocks, which is not something we could offer before.”
Greater Finishing Efficiencies
PRIDE worked with C.P. Bourg to install a digital finishing line that enables even more work to shift to inkjet. The line includes the Bourg Sheet Feeder (BSF), IFB (Hand Feed Reject Tray), Bourg Preparation Module (BPM) equipped with Bleed Trimming and Sheet Creasing, (BME) Booklet Maker with Hohner stitching heads, (BME) Booklet Face Trimmer, and Exit Conveyor.
“Our finishing efficiencies are so much greater than we had before,” Roberts explains. “Operators don’t have to run the job to the cutter, then the folder, and the collator. They can feed everything directly through the C.P. Bourg Digital Finishing Line, significantly reducing the number of steps and reducing waste.”
Although Bourg’s finishing solutions are often run in-line, because PRIDE also runs two Canon imagePRESS C10000s and multiple rollfed inkjet and offset presses, the decision was made to place the finishing offline so carts stacked with material could be brought to the finisher from any printer.
“The solution can be docked in-line with the VarioPrint i300+ at any time and still function offline,” notes James Tressler, VP of sales for C.P. Bourg. “The team felt it was best to begin this way, knowing the option to connect exists.”
These efficiencies offer tremendous benefits to PRIDE’s clients since 80% to 90% of its work comes from state agencies. “Their budgets are extremely tight, and rarely — if ever — do they increase,” says Roberts. “Our investments in high-speed inkjet and binding lines allow us to maintain their volume without impacting their costs. In fact, even though the raw materials go up, we have been able to offset those increases through the productivity of our inkjet and digital binding solutions.”
While PRIDE does not have labor costs associated with running the equipment, Roberts notes that these savings are offset by the cost of trainers and continual upgrades to its technology that keep its training on the cutting edge.
PRIDE installed the VarioPrint i300+ and C.P. Bourg finishing line in March 2020. It couldn’t have been more pleased with both installations.
“The Canon team has been great to work with,” Roberts lauds. “When we installed our two imagePRESS C10000s a few years ago, those machines were up and running within three days. Although we didn’t start running the new VarioPrint i300+ immediately, it was ready to run at the end of the second week.”
The Bourg Booklet Maker (BM-e) is C.P. Bourg’s premium booklet maker that utilizes the latest technology to produce on-demand booklets. The paper flow follows a stitch-fold-trim process with guaranteed set integrity, a maximum of 120 pages per booklet (30 sheets) and a maximum speed of 5,000 booklets/hour.
Roberts praises C.P. Bourg for its efficiency, as well. “They brought the equipment in, and by the end of the week, it was already running, and they were training our staff,” he says. “We are particularly impressed that the line is able to operate 24/7 at the full-rated speed of our VarioPrint i300+.”
PRIDE anticipates producing about five million pages on the VarioPrint i300+ monthly. As print volumes grow, PRIDE expects to add more print and finishing lines to meet the demand.
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