In-plants Discuss Inkjet at thINK 2018 Conference
More than 600 production inkjet service providers — including many in-plant managers — gathered recently at the Boca Raton Resort and Club for the Canon Solutions America thINK 2018 Conference. They spent several days discussing their inkjet experiences and learning how to capitalize on new inkjet applications.
One discussion focused exclusively on how in-plants are using production inkjet technologies to provide more value to their parent organizations. Moderated by IPG Editor Bob Neubauer, the panel featured four in-plant managers whose operations have installed production inkjet presses. They shared their reasons for installing inkjet, their key applications (including new ones inkjet has enabled them to bring in-house), workflow improvements that inkjet has enabled and how inkjet has enhanced their strategic relevance at their organizations.
Participating in the discussion were:
- Dave McCloskey (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
- Lisa Stelter (Sanford Health)
- Chuck Werninger (Houston Independent School District)
- Michele Woodrum (Indiana Farm Bureau)
Each manager praised their inkjet press for allowing them to reduce their equipment footprint and bring additional work in-house.
"We transitioned approximately 60% of our toner printing over to the inkjet machine," noted Stelter. "We're running colored paper on the i300, we're running 3-hole drilled paper, we're going to start running tabs. The overall volume we're able to support with the [Océ VarioPrint] i300 is tremendous."
"We will queue up day's worth of production in the queue and then just rearrange the priorities as the days go on," added Werninger, whose in-plant also runs a VarioPrint i300. "We can produce a quarter million images per day if we need to."
The i300's productivity and ease of use has brought many workflow efficiencies, the managers agreed.
"We really have one operator on a shift that is loading paper on one end and taping boxes on the other end," said Werninger. "That completely changed our production workflow."
Each manager noted that their inkjet press replaced multiple toner devices.
"We took four [monochrome] cut-sheet toner devices and … one cut-sheet color device and we replaced all of those with an i300," revealed Werninger.
"We went from six toner machines to one i300 and one imagePRESS 10000," noted Woodrum.
Inkjet enabled Sanford Health to eliminate an entire printing operation, after the company's merger with MeritCare left it with two in-plants.
"We put together a strategic plan and were able to include the i300 as the main machine that we would get to replace all of our equipment and also close our operation in Fargo, shifting all of our work to Sioux Falls," she said.
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Werninger learned a valuable lesson about the capabilities of the i300 when his in-plant's Presstek 52DI digital offset press broke down and took 9.5 months to repair.
"In that process, one of the things we learned was, we only outsourced five jobs in 9.5 months," he said; work that normally went to the DI press was redirected to the i300.
"I really was blown away how runs of 5,000 or 10,000 ran really, really well, and the cost difference was not as dramatic as I had thought. We were delivering jobs in the time it would have taken us to makeready on the DI."
The productivity of the inkjet press has been amazing, they all agreed. Werninger said his shop's i300 produced more work than the combined volume of all the machines it replaced.
"We're actually producing more work with one 300-sheet device," he said. "The productivity is compelling and we've moved a lot of work over to color because of that."
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's in-plant was able to eliminate one of its three shifts after installing an Océ ColorStream 3900 continuous-feed inkjet press in November, noted McCloskey. Inkjet enabled the operation to take in new work, such as the 1099 forms for the Department of Labor & Industry, a 400,000-piece mailing.
His operation recently took on a 100,000-piece four-color emergency preparedness booklet.
"That's not normally in our wheelhouse," he admitted, "but when you've got that much extra capacity [with the Océ ColorStream 3900], you can pull that in … and provide it to them inexpensively."
Since firing up the ColorStream 3900 in November, he said, "we've turned approximately 15 million impressions over to the inkjet world."
"We historically had been printing shells … off of our offset presses," added Stelter. "With the i300, we don't do that anymore. We print the letter with the letterhead. Having the i300 and the ability to do that all at the same time has been tremendous for us."
Operators look forward to their opportunity to run the VarioPrint i300 at Indiana Farm Bureau, said Woodrum.
"Everybody is excited to be on these machines," she said. "Because of the productivity increase … I'm now learning how to shift team members to do other tasks."
Indiana Farm Bureau got its i300 for the costs savings and reliability, she said, but also because of the great relationship the in-plant has with Canon.
"Canon is second to none," she praises. "They will invest in you and they will keep on investing in you, and that was very important to us. They allowed us to go out to customers who had already installed, speak with the techs on the floor, and that really helped."
The lower cost of color with inkjet means in-plants can add color to previously monochrome print jobs without increasing costs.
"Our everyday transactional print that goes out, we're adding more color," confirmed Woodrum.
Printing color on toner devices, noted Werninger, has traditionally cost much more than black-and-white printing. Not so with color printed on the i300, which runs full color at the same speed as black-and-white, he said. Rather than asking if customers want jobs in color or black-and-white, Werninger's in-plant just runs them in color.
"Once they get that one time, they will never want black-and-white again," he declared.
In a K-12 environment, adding color has enhanced the learning experience, he pointed out. Student worksheets in most school are usually printed in black-and-white, he noted. Since adding the i300 at Houston Independent School District, that is no longer the case.
"We did a fascinating thing. We made the sky blue. We made the grass green. We made the earth brown," he said. "All of a sudden, learning improves. Kids are more engaged."
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.