The Principal Enriches Its Digital Color QualitySeptember 2013 By Bob Neubauer
The Principal Financial Group’s Print to Mail operation is serious about digital color printing. Just six years ago, the 64-employee in-plant had 10 Kodak NexPress digital presses running in its Urbandale, Iowa, operation—making it the largest single-site NexPress user in the world.
But time and technology advances have reduced that fleet and brought new devices into the in-plant’s 120,000-square-foot facility. The most recent additions were a pair of HP Indigo 7600 digital color presses.
“We were very drawn to HP’s quality,” declares Trisha Hart, assistant director of Document Services. Being able to produce offset-like quality is crucial for the high-end marketing pieces the in-plant prints for the global financial company. Customers have noticed the improvement in quality.
“They’ve been very happy with it,” Hart affirms.
The 120-page-per-minute digital presses have also brought more speed and efficiency to the shop through a novel feature called Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM) in which jobs are printed using only three inks instead of four, eliminating black ink. While the print quality is reportedly still very high using EPM, the machines can output 160 ppm—a 33 percent jump in productivity.
“It allows us to increase our efficiencies,” enthuses Hart. “It has decreased our cost per image by a fairly substantial factor.” Spending on consumables has gone way down, she adds. Also reduced is the amount of space the new HP Indigo 7600s take up compared to the NexPresses they replaced.
“It reduced our footprint by moving in this direction,” she says. “We have more physical space that we can end up repurposing to other endeavors.”
The in-plant still retains two of those 10 Kodak NexPresses, but is trying to move as much of its high-end color printing as possible to the 7600s. For “economy color,” such as that used on 401k statements and other transactional printing, the shop uses a Ricoh 5000 inkjet printer. Toner-based color for quick turnaround copy jobs is produced on a pair of Canon 7010s in the Document Output Center, located in The Principal’s downtown Des Moines corporate campus. The Print to Mail operation prides itself on being able to provide multiple levels of digital color depending on customers’ requirements and budgets.