Workflow Automation Smooths Production at California College
The San Joaquin Delta College Publication Center has used Web-to-print and e-commerce software to create an automated and efficient production environment.January 2014
About five years ago, the San Joaquin Delta College Publication Center, in Stockton, Calif., retired its offset presses and moved to an all-digital production platform. This consisted of color and monochrome digital devices operated by the in-plant's staff as well as a monochrome digital press available for walk-up traffic.
"The next logical step was to make our workflow as automated and productive as possible," says Manager Gilbert VanOver.
To do this, the in-plant acquired EFI Digital StoreFront Web-to-print and e-commerce software to help it better utilize its new digital printing equipment and deliver more value to the college. Today, all of the Publication Center's systems are interconnected, and many jobs are processed without manual intervention.
Located about 80 miles east of San Francisco, the in-plant has done a remarkable job utilizing its EFI solutions to create an extremely automated and efficient production environment. As a result, working with the Publication Center is a quick and easy process for Delta College employees.
"Much of the work that comes in is pretty straightforward," says VanOver. "Any black-and-white work we don't need to touch comes in through Digital StoreFront and is automatically released for production to our Ricoh 1107s. A job ticket printed on colored stock is inserted between each job, so we simply pull them off of the printer and put them on shelves for pick-up or delivery."
VanOver says as many as 50 to 60 jobs are uploaded every night.
"We come in about 7:00 a.m.," he says, "and by around 12:30 those jobs have been released by my staff and pulled off of the digital presses and stacked on the shelves, ready to go. It's an awesome process."
The Publication Center is equipped with four Ricoh 1107 EX presses, a Ricoh C651 EX digital color press and a Canon imageRUNNER Pro 125VP digital monochrome press. All digital presses (except one Ricoh 1107 used primarily for walk-up jobs) are equipped with EFI Fiery digital front ends with Fiery Command WorkStation. The Ricoh C651 and Canon imageRUNNER 125 have in-line booklet makers to accommodate the large number of booklets the in-plant produces.
The Center also manages Delta College's distributed fleet of copiers and printers in partnership with Ricoh and utilizes tools from EFI to assist in that process.
Work destined for the Canon imageRUNNER 125 or the Ricoh C651 is reviewed by an operator prior to being released to production.
"This might require impositioning, preparation for variable data, image correction or other actions, for which we use Command WorkStation and its Fiery Impose feature," says Andy Thomas, a computer support technician who joined the organization in 2007. "Also, of course, we want to closely monitor our color volume to make sure there is minimal or no waste associated with the color printing process and that those resources are being used appropriately."
Ordering Supplies Online
Digital StoreFront has become a huge success factor for the Publication Center, especially for automated work and for items such as stationery and business cards. In addition to managing orders for print-on-demand items and standard forms, Digital StoreFront gives users the ability to acquire laser or inkjet supplies for their remote printers.
"Many times users don't know exactly which model machine they have or which supplies are required," Thomas explains. "We have set up Digital StoreFront so that all they need to do is enter a campus building and room number, and they are presented with an image of the copier/printer as well as images of the supplies. This makes it fast, easy and accurate for these types of supply orders." Thomas has also set inventory levels for many of the supply items, and Digital StoreFront sends notifications when items need to be restocked.
As for the print work the Publication Center handles, "We hardly send anything out anymore," VanOver proudly states. "We are able to give our users extremely fast turnaround, the quality they expect and a very reasonable price for the materials they need to do their jobs. We are perceived on campus as a high value-added service, and we work hard to continue to meet those expectations."
Like many California educational institutions, Delta College has had its share of budget cuts.
"We had three full-time production people and two or three part-time students in the shop," VanOver says. "Now with Digital StoreFront fully functional and our integrated Digital StoreFront-to-Fiery workflow, we can run the operation much more efficiently than we did without EFI."
VanOver recalls that previously, there could be lines outside the door with people waiting to submit or pick up work.
"With Digital StoreFront, we no longer have that inconvenience," he says. "In fact, times have improved drastically over the last several years. As you can imagine, that makes our users very happy."
Looking at the future, VanOver says, "To keep up with the ever-changing in-house printing process and the needs of users of our distributed fleet, we will continue to upgrade all of our EFI products and add new ones as it makes sense for our stakeholders.
"We are considering the new EFI M500 self-serve station for better management of some of our walk-up printing and copying needs," he adds, "and we will be staying in close touch with our partners, Ricoh and EFI, to ensure that we know what's coming so we can adequately plan."