UT Austin Named ‘Print Center of the Year’
At the recent In-plant Printing and Mailing Association conference, Document Solutions at The University of Texas at Austin was honored as IPMA’s 2015 Print Center of the Year. This award recognizes an in-plant that has excelled not only in managing its operation efficiently, but has also furthered the objectives of its parent organization.
The staff of Document Solutions worked very hard not only in 2014, but during prior years, as the in-plant merged Copy Services, its original digital department, with the printing and mailing services departments.
“Prior to Copy Services joining the other two service units of Document Solutions, Printing Services and Copy Services competed against each other for the same customers,” explains Richard Beto, director of Document Solutions. Today, instead of being in competition with other departments, Document Solutions offers both digital and offset options that meet all customer needs, driven by one focused team of employees.
The need for consolidation was highlighted during the 2012/2013 fiscal year. “For the first time in 10 years, our digital operation lost money, despite a sales increase of $165,849,” explains Beto, adding that the “benefits of consolidation were quickly realized.” However, Document Solutions didn’t only face the challenges of consolidation, but of needing to increase operational efficiency, bring down costs and find new income opportunities.
Once all employees were working out of one location, Document Solutions initiated a cross-training program so that Copy Services employees could learn to handle offset orders, and Printing Services employees could take on Copy Services orders. Ensuring that all staff are familiar with both copy and printing procedures means Document Solutions benefits from an expert workforce that can help any customer with printing and copying needs. A more unified workforce also meant savings for Document Solutions, as the merger of the three departments meant it was easier for employees to be shared, cutting back on the number of temporary employees needed. The team estimates that savings of $42,583 in labor costs have been made possible due to employee sharing.
Document Solutions also recognized that the way to ease its financial troubles was to increase both efficiency and productivity. “Fiscal year 2012/13 was a disappointing year for our offset group,” reports Beto. “We suffered large operating losses.”
Document Solutions tackled the problem by carefully examining where money was being spent, and where it could be saved. Areas such as supplies, maintenance agreements, plates, ink, marketing and vehicle repair were earmarked as needing to be restricted in order to cut costs. In addition to decreasing spending, Document Solutions was able to increase its revenue by stepping up its branding and marketing efforts. From holding instructional classes to increasing customer outreach, efforts were made to attract more customers.
However, decreasing spending and increasing revenue were only part of the story. “Declining sales and low employee productivity were attributed to a lack of equipment,” explains Beto. “To operate with antiquated equipment meant continued operating losses.”
To resolve this, a five-color Komori press was installed so that jobs could be printed faster using less paper and more colors. Increasing productivity has not only raised employee morale, but customers are happier now too. Faster turnaround and a greater emphasis on customer service has resulted in increased customer satisfaction.
Document Solutions also worked to stay relevant and increase revenue by expanding its services. In addition to expanding its copier management program to include all Konica Minolta machines campus-wide, Document Solutions has been able to allocate more staff to courier routes, resulting in three new routes and an increase in revenue of $8,000 dollars a year. When the university announced the creation of a new medical school, Document Solutions anticipated an increased need for confidential destruction of sensitive materials, so it bought a level 6 paper shredder.
After consolidating departments, streamlining workflows and expanding services, Document Solutions documented some major improvements:
- 6 percent ($498,238) increase in sales.
- 4 percent ($118,354) reduction in labor costs.
- 69 percent ($139,250) reduction in capital expenditure.
- An increase in operating expenses of just 1 percent ($57,829).
- 77 percent positive change in net income over the previous year.
Beto praises Document Solutions staff for supporting all of these initiatives.
“Staff assumed additional responsibilities and double workload created by vacant positions,” he stresses. “They navigated broken processes while meeting customer expectations and were motivated to improve both.”
Related story: University of Texas Installs Five-color Press
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.