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From the Editor: In-plants Everywhere

October 2013 By Bob Neubauer
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Anyone who thinks in-plants are in decline should have been tagging along with me the past two weeks. Between PRINT 13 and the Southeastern Printing and Digital Managers Conference (SUPDMC) a week later, I've lost count of the number of managers I've seen. So heavy was the in-plant participation at PRINT 13 that I could not cross the trade show floor without spotting a manager. (Watch my video commentary on recent in-plant events. Warning: extreme closeup. May burn your eyes.)

Clearly the recessionary travel restrictions of a few years ago have eased, and managers are showing their eagerness to upgrade their shops. I talked with dozens of them during PRINT to hear what they were up to. Most were looking for new services to add to their lineup. Several were checking out garment printers and wide-format devices at the show. Others were examining the latest crop of production inkjet printers, with plans to purchase within a year or two.

As you've no doubt read several times in IPG, PRINT 13 was packed with in-plant events. In fact, I spent one full day doing almost nothing but attending these meetings. It certainly was refreshing to see the printing industry paying so much attention to our market, though I can't help but wonder if, perhaps, there were a bit too many in-plant activities. Managers did come to Chicago to see a trade show, after all.

That said, there was some good content at the in-plant sessions. At one, a panel of managers talked about initiatives they have taken that have brought success. Mike Lincoln, who oversees the State of Colorado's Integrated Document Solutions operation, noted that by shifting his employees' mindsets from "it's good enough for government" to focusing on high quality, the in-plant has impressed customers and made them advocates. Such loyalty is key to an in-plant’s survival, agreed Gary Boytos, of the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, who said in-plants must become “solutions providers” and solve customers’ problems creatively.

Immediately after that session, IPG held a luncheon for in-plants that brought about 60 managers together. Tawsha Bone-Worrall, gave a presentation in which she detailed how her in-plant worked to reduce the organization’s external print expenditure and increase savings by bringing more outsourced work back in-house. The shop plans to use its Web-to-print platform to improve efficiencies and monitor the organization’s printing, while adding staff to handle the additional work, and increasing its capabilities and capacity.


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