Digital Advancements Provide Opportunities for In-plant Operations
For a long time, a variety of factors including perceived cost and lack of familiarity impeded digital print’s adoption into offset in-plant environments. However, major technological strides in toner, inkjet and software technologies have sparked digital’s abilities to help shops grow in ways that would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago.
While digital print as a whole has evolved on many fronts, these three may be the most impactful for in-plants looking for digital growth:
- Larger color gamut and expanded toner options at a lower price.
In the past, smaller printers at times struggled to stand out as they were priced out of producing high-quality color output that expensive technologies could provide. However, some new toner devices are opening up the color gamut at remarkably low price points, bringing white and clear toner into the mix, and further complementing the addition of digital technology into a shop. This enables even more printers to get in the complex color game and all the capabilities it brings to help your communications stand out, both to your audience and to your organization’s management.Additionally, inkjet was previously restricted due in part to lack of finer-point control of applications – liberally applied inks were soaking into and through substrates, comprising quality for color applications. However, today’s technologies have improved to the point that even complex color is accessible to many printers across a variety of substrates.
- More substrates bring more options.
Technological advancements aren’t just enabling the ability to utilize dark substrate colors with the advancements in white toner options on digital equipment, they’ve also made printing to synthetic and heavy substrates faster and easier than ever. These substrates no longer weigh down your operation’s productivity. Instead, they fit within your usual workflows while providing “outside-the-box” options to grab attention and branch out into different applications, such as high quality invitations, door hangers, table tents, hang tags and specialty cards. This kind of flexibility makes in-plants an even greater resource for their organizations, as they no longer have to take specialty print requests to outside vendors or produce low volume items on higher-cost offset equipment.In fact, similar technological advancements have lowered the cost and labor barriers to entry for the wide-format space. For that reason, many in-plants are finding they can help bring even their organizations’ most outside-the-box ideas in house.
- This isn’t your father’s Web-to-print interface.
Ten years ago Web-to-print was just catching on. Many forward-thinking in-plants joined the movement, adopting those capabilities to streamline the transition from request to production and help make client requests clear. However, if you’re an early adopter who took a “set it and forget it” approach to your Web-to-print software, it’s time for you to take a look at what’s on the market today. Things have come a long way. In addition to direct-to-workflow integration that helps streamline and save, modern Web-to-print solutions function as marketing tools. Attractive, branded shopping experiences that help direct users to the products and services they need are helping drive sales and bring users who may have strayed, back to in-house printing as they see how simple it is to order high-quality communications.
Of course, the market landscape has evolved in many complicated ways, but, at a high level, these three aspects are what’s really shaping the way in-plants operate. Frankly, many of your customers expect high-quality color, eye-catching substrates, and simple, Amazon-style shopping interfaces. Don’t risk losing those customers to outside competition; instead, seize the opportunities that digital print provides, adapt and thrive.
Debbie Pavletich is the Director of the Business Consulting Practice in the Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group of Ricoh USA, Inc. As an in-plant print industry expert, she partners with clients to identify opportunities within their organizations to implement technologies that help minimize cost, streamline processes, increase throughput, improve operational efficiency, and strengthen and communicate business value. Her customer-centered approach and experience leading print industry teams enables her to collaboratively develop solutions that are in alignment with organizational objectives.
With more than 35 years of industry experience, Pavletich’s previous work includes managing a world-class in-plant printing department at Briggs & Stratton Corp. where she was responsible for strategic planning, finances, purchasing, capital equipment implementation, and sales and marketing initiatives. Other accomplishments include early adoption and successful deployment of leading-edge technologies, and initiating a successful sales effort to external customers.
As a subject matter specialist on in-plant operations management Pavletich has delivered presentations on a wide range of industry topics, including the value of in-plant operations, color management, work flow and the implementation of software and equipment that reduced costs, improved efficiencies, and provided additional revenue.
Pavletich has a certificate in management from Marquette University and has completed comprehensive finance coursework at the University of Chicago. She has served as Vendor Representative and International President of the IPMA (In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association), and President of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Board of Directors.