State of Tennessee Takes the Inkjet Leap
When the State of Tennessee’s Document Solutions operation integrated with the state’s data print center in late 2013, the merger introduced some very old equipment to the in-plant, including a pair of roll-fed IBM InfoPrint 4000 monochrome printers.
“They needed to go to a museum,” observes Tammy Golden, assistant commissioner of Document Solutions.
Recently, after years of research, justification and renovations, the 115-employee in-plant moved from museum pieces to state-of-the-art inkjet technology. In November, the Nashville in-plant fired up a Ricoh InfoPrint 5000GP continuous-feed color inkjet press. Golden couldn’t be happier with the results.
“It absolutely was the right move for us,” she says. “The speed is great and it is very reliable, so we’re able to pump the work out very easily.”
That work includes letters, certificates, tax notices, motor vehicle renewals and other transactional items the state needs to send to citizens.
Adding a production inkjet press gives the in-plant the opportunity to move work over from its offset presses, such as inserts.
“Instead of having a transactional piece that has a one- or two-page letter, and then you have a couple of inserts that go with it that have been sitting in boxes in storage, we just print it all as part of the run with the transactional letter,” Golden explains.
Another advantage of doing it this way, she adds, is that the inserts can be barcoded, adding mailpiece integrity to the insertion process.
The in-plant has printed a few color jobs on the inkjet press, and Golden hopes to expand this once customers learn about all the press’s capabilities.
Golden admits she was nervous about the thought of replacing two machines with one inkjet press and having no redundancy. But fellow state government in-plant manager Mike Lincoln, Colorado State Printer, who has had an inkjet press for years, reassured her. Even after she turned that corner, though, the acquisition process dragged on.
The press went out for bid in the spring of 2017, but it wasn’t until December that she got a signed contract. And then it was discovered that HVAC modifications to the building would cost more than expected, so legislative approval was needed for the extra money. That came in May of 2018. Modifications were completed in September, the press was installed in October and it finally went live on November 1.
Training on the inkjet press was a challenge, since operators were still responsible for running work on the IBMs during training. Golden advises others getting inkjet not to skimp on training.
“You need to make sure you include as much staff as possible in the training,” she says.
This might mean cross-training other employees to cover for trainees and even paying them overtime to train.
“It’s a big change, but I feel like they picked it up pretty quickly,” she says.
The in-plant was able to keep the IBMs running during the inkjet installation by placing the Ricoh InfoPrint 5000GP in the postal area, along with the shop’s Xerox Nuvera cut-sheet printers. This was part of a consolidation of state printing that also relocated the offset, bindery, scanning and customer service areas. Now most of the operation is in one building, and the customer service desk is at the building’s main public entrance, next to a shop selling Tennessee-branded T-shirts, hats, umbrellas and other promotional items.
Golden plans to look for additional work to keep the inkjet press busy, including long-run color work that is usually outsourced.
“This could enable us to do some work that has gone out in the past,” she says.
Despite all the delays and the anxiety that went along with making such a major change, Golden is confident that inkjet is the right step for her operation to take.
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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.