Colorado School District Goes Digital
For the past 13 years, the main printing device at Colorado Springs School District 11 Production Printing has been a four-color Ryobi offset press. With more than 60 schools to print for, the in-plant needed that press to produce large runs of lunch menus, programs, brochures and other items.
In recent years, though, Joe Morin noticed a change.
“Over the last two to three years, we began to see a trend in much shorter run lengths and quicker turn times,” says Morin, manager of the Division of Business Services. “While we were still able to accommodate that demand with offset, it increasingly became more inefficient to do so.”
So in July, the 22-employee in-plant made the switch to digital printing, installing a 100-ppm Konica Minolta C1100 bizhub PRESS with collating, folding and stapling. Morin had planned to run the digital color press alongside the Ryobi at first, while the shop got used to it.
“The reality was, once we put the 1100 into service, it’s performed so well that, since July 1, we haven’t printed a sheet of offset,” he reveals.
The Ryobi is now up for sale.
Morin is very impressed with the 1,200x1,200-dpi quality coming off the C1100.
“The solids are just unbelievable,” he says. So is the consistency: “The first sheet looks like the last sheet.”
Run lengths now average 1,000 — far below the 20-40,000 impressions typically run on the offset press. Morin likes that operators can start a job and then do other tasks while it’s running, unlike with the offset press. Also, jobs can be sent to the C1100 at the end of the day, to be printed after hours.
Morin has been impressed with Konica Minolta technology since leasing a bizhub PRESS C6000 three years ago to handle the in-plant’s walk-in work.
“I was so impressed with the quality coming off of the 6000 that we actually started migrating a little bit of the press work to that,” he says.
Morin acknowledges that moving to digital was inevitable for the in-plant. Setting up and washing down the press was taking too much time each day.
“Each morning, to crank up the offset, it took an hour to ink it up and get everything ready to go to production,“ he says. “And then every evening it would take a couple hours to wash the press up and clean it up for the next day’s production. That was an incredible amount of non-productive time.”
Not everything can be done on the digital press, he points out; some heavy textured stocks don’t perform as well as they did on offset.
“But our clients don’t seem to mind switching to something more digitally compatible,” he says.
Going digital has enabled the in-plant to bring in more outside work, Morin says.
“We’ve actually insourced more work as a result of our ability to produce shorter, high-quality runs more quickly,” he says. About 15% of the shop’s annual revenue comes from insourcing work from school districts, government agencies and nonprofits, he adds.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.