Santa Cruz In-plant Now Fully Functional in Folding and Inserting
The efficiency of digital printing can be squandered if the postpress process isn’t equally efficient — and sometimes, it doesn’t take much to drive a wedge between the two stages of production.
Facing just such a disconnect, the in-plant at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) considered its options and installed a solution that not only resolves the output problem, but gives the shop new ways to demonstrate its value to the campus community it serves.
Bill Kasper, manager of the UCSC Copy Center, identifies the former bottleneck as a “fiddly” folder-inserter that had aged to a point where it couldn’t be restored to its original performance specs. In this condition, it jammed frequently, wouldn’t handle multi-page feeds or thicker stocks, and couldn’t always be depended on to fold accurately.
This meant, says Kasper, that “in order to use it, the operator had to spend a lot of time babysitting it.” It also drove customers to take their work off campus.
Kasper, who took over management of the copy center in July of 2019, first thought the answer might be either adding in-line folding and inserting to the shop’s pair of Ricoh Pro 8110 Se cut-sheet digital printers; or acquiring newer models with the finishing built in. But, when responses to an RFP indicated that neither approach could be cost-justified, Kasper looked into an alternative: near-line processing on a Pitney Bowes Relay 3500 folder-inserter.
“A new folder seemed to be low-hanging fruit,” Kasper says, adding that after he found no negative comments about the Relay 3500 in his online research, the decision to purchase it was easy to make, and he quickly got management approval. The device, equipped with a stacker for continuous feeding, was installed in January of this year. Its productivity-boosting benefits, Kasper reports, were evident almost right away.
Running most of the time at about 2,000 clicks per hour, the Relay 3500 more than doubles the output of the breakdown- and jam-prone device it replaced. The folding is more accurate, Kasper says, and the throughput is considerably more efficient.
“We can fold four pages at a time, and stuff it,” Kasper says, noting that hand-stuffing would have been the shop’s only recourse for mailing such pieces before the Relay 3500 arrived.
This year, however, the device enabled Kasper and his team to print, fold, and insert a 43,000-piece Admissions mailing — an undertaking that would have been far beyond the limit of the old folder-inserter. The in-plant’s present objective is to recover outsourced work in the under-5,000 piece range: alumni association bulletins, university relations announcements, and other projects that it can now bid on competitively from start to finish.
The motivation to insource more work stems from a new policy by the UC Board of Regents that encourages campuses to do this. Recovering previously outsourced work for the in-plant, Kasper explains, serves two purposes: bolstering the shop’s full cost recovery model with added revenue; and helping it to “find ways to make us more integral to the university’s business.”
For instance, should UCSC need to send a quick, campus-wide mailing related to COVID-19 as it moves toward reopening in the fall, the in-plant, with the help of its improved folding and inserting capability, would be fully equipped to make it happen.
The UCSC in-plant has been in operation since 1965, the year the Santa Cruz campus was founded. Service-driven technical evolution has been its keynote since 2011, the year it closed down its offset operation, which included five litho presses and related postpress equipment.
Kasper and three and a half full-time employees work in a 1,000-sq.-ft. space that houses both the copy center and Professor Publishing Services, which provides copyright clearance assistance along with electronic and printed course packs. Besides mailings, the copy center serves students, faculty, and staff with business cards, exams, academic handouts, flyers, and forms.
This work flows from a digital press lineup consisting of two Ricoh Pro 8110 Se digital printers, a Ricoh MP C6004 color laser MFP, and a Xanté En/Press color press acquired in 2018. These devices, Kasper reports, are well complemented by the new folder-inserter, which he says has given the team “a certain confidence” in their abilities that they didn’t have before.
Once, assignments like the Admissions mailing would have seemed overwhelming because of the post-print requirements. Now, secure in the knowledge that they have all the bases covered, the team’s attitude is, “Hey, we can do this now,” Kasper affirms.