The Rocky Road to Production Inkjet
Getting an inkjet press is no ordinary equipment acquisition process. Any printing operation looking to switch to inkjet must consider numerous aspects, such as paper, workflow, finishing and adding new types of work to help keep the press busy.
During the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) conference in June, one in-plant manager gave a refreshingly honest accounting of her in-plant's path to production inkjet — a journey that has faced numerous roadblocks.
With the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center adding hospitals and expanding, "We are just bursting at the seams with work," said Amanda Bronowski. Her shop did approximately 17.5 million impressions the previous month, she said, much of it transactional work.
Three years ago she began looking to transition to production inkjet technology. She got approval, picked rollfed press and finishing gear, determined the ROI, but then was halted by an organizational change. By the time that was completed, sheetfed inkjet equipment had debuted on the market, so she went back to the drawing board.
By then, Marketing wanted to explore adding color to inkjet pieces. Bronowski was cautioned to change from in-line to near-line finishing and print roll to roll. The need for new workflow software was a surprise. And then she learned that it could cost a significant amount of money to prepare her facility for an inkjet press, with new venting, an HVAC upgrade and upgrades to the building's roof, which was not strong enough for the new HVAC.
"It was quite an eye-opening experience,"she said.
Since the in-plant is in a leased building, inkjet will most likely have to wait until the operation moves to a new facility.
If she could do something differently, Bronowski said, she would have brought executive management on the site tours with her.
"If they could see the efficiency of these machines and how fast they run and the quality that they have, I think that we would have engaged them a lot earlier," she said. This, she added, might have sped up this process.