From the Editor: In-plant House Calls

In-plant Graphics Editor Bob Neubauer

I don’t typically have many events to attend in the summer months, but in July Konica Minolta invited a few editors to New York City to witness the launch of its bizhub PRESS C1100 and chat with company executives. (It didn’t hurt that they put us up in the Waldorf Astoria, a step up from the Econo Lodge where I usually crash.) As I often do when I travel, I visited a couple of in-plants while in the Big Apple.

First I took a subway to the financial district (I forgot how sweltering those subway platforms get in the summer) where I stopped in to see Tony Hinds at the New York Stock Exchange, now owned by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Back in 1994, this was the first in-plant I ever visited.

Tony’s shop handles a lot of print-on-demand work, such as books for meetings, as well as brochures and other items for functions taking place on the trading floor. He recently added a Xanté printer for envelopes, post cards and letterhead. Posters and banners for booths on the trading floor are a crucial item printed by the shop, and many times they must be printed with little prior notice, such as when the company selected to ring the opening or closing bell changes at the last minute. The in-plant is able to quickly produce these items.

Another impressive service the in-plant provides is engraving brass name badges, signs, souvenir medallions and more. The in-plant has eight engravers. Sometimes name badges need to be engraved at a moment’s notice, as when more people show up for an event than expected. Tony said ICE, the exchange’s new owner, has been very supportive of the in-plant team and the crucial service it provides.

After leaving Tony (and suffering another long wait on a stuffy subway platform), I dropped in on the in-plant at a major city law firm (whose name I was told not to reveal). Manager Tom Cook has been there nearly two decades, and he said most of the legal paperwork the shop used to print has been replaced by digital files. Still, the in-plant maintains a small arsenal of Konica Minolta printers so it can instantly print any documents that are needed, since cases often hinge on these documents. Tom said the shop averages about three million clicks a month.

Since he oversees the walk-up printers, Tom installed software that redirects any job of 301 pages or more down to the in-plant—unless one of the firm’s partners is printing it, he said. They get to print as many pages as they want.

“In the legal market, there is no waiting,” he told me.

I managed to fit in one more in-plant visit last month when I took a train ride to Villanova University, about a half hour from my Philadelphia office. I toured the in-plant’s new facility and chatted with Mike George, whose career we’ve profiled in the magazine this month. The last time I visited, the in-plant was crammed into an old house on campus, with equipment located in different rooms. The new facility brings all of the production digital printing, offset, bindery and bulk mail equipment together, for a smoother workflow.

The shop is always busy, Mike told me. Long-run jobs, often containing variable data, flow in from Creative Services, while student work keeps the satellite copy center very busy. Much of the work arrives via the shop’s Web-to-print system, RSA’s WebCRD.

Mike showed me the in-plant’s annual report, which he had produced to show management the shop’s progress. It was flush with bar charts showing years of data on chargeback amounts, payroll costs, revenue vs. expenses, and more. If his boss were to ask how much the shop spent on machine maintenance last year, he would have the figure ready in a heartbeat. Having this data handy, he said, shows management that he is on top of everything and knows what he’s doing.

Mike will be relating his Web-to-print experiences and more at Graph Expo during a free IPG luncheon on Monday, September 2. I’m hoping to see many in-plants there, as well as at the other events IPG is hosting at Graph Expo.

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