In-plant Overhaul in Oregon
When a quarter of your employees retire at the same time, it tends to shake things up. That’s what happened at University of Oregon Printing & Mailing Services in June 2016, and it made Director John Boytz stop and think.
“It was five out of 20 employees, so 25% of our workforce retired within a very short period of time,” he says. “It was a really good time to take a really good look at what we were doing and if there were ways to improve what we were doing.”
The subsequent introspection brought major changes to the Eugene, Ore.-based in-plant. Offset was eliminated, digital printing and bindery equipment were upgraded, the in-plant launched a university-wide copier management program, management was restructured and new MIS and job ordering systems were implemented. As a result of all this, Boytz says, the operation is running more smoothly and is saving even more money for the university.
The copier management program had been a long time coming.
“We had been working on that for literally three years,” Boytz admits.
Former Director Mark Dixon, one of the June 2016 retirees, began the process, which uncovered about 300 copiers and more than 100 models from eight different vendors.
“Now we’re down to one contract, one vendor and almost 400 copy machines that we’re managing ... and saving the university a considerable amount of money,” Boytz says — about $200,000 a year, he estimates. Plus, the revenue pays all of the expenses of managing the program.
Two technicians are stationed on campus and use golf carts to move around and do repairs. The in-plant also just signed a contract to manage the 1,700 desktop printers on campus.
Out With Offset
An even bigger change came when the in-plant decided to shut down its offset presses, including a six-color Heidelberg Speedmaster.
“Offset struggled,” Boytz admits. “It was in the best interest of not only the department, but the university to look at closing it, and financially it made good sense.”
The in-plant kept two small presses for envelopes and letterhead, transitioned some work to its digital presses and selected five commercial print vendors to handle the rest. Due to tough competition in the commercial market, he says, the in-plant is getting good prices, saving the university a lot of money.
The in-plant has also upgraded its digital printing and bindery equipment, trading in a Xerox Color 800 for a 1000 and adding a Duplo 646 slitter/cutter/creaser and a Neopost DS-200 folder/inserter. In its satellite operation in the student union, the in-plant has added three new Ricoh Pro 8100s, a Xerox J75 and a Kodak Digimaster EX138.
The shop also had its two MBO folders and a James Burn punch rebuilt, which Boytz says saved between 50% and 75% of the cost of buying new equipment.
“And what we will get out of that is literally a brand new piece of equipment,” he says.
The in-plant is in the process of upgrading both its MIS and online ordering systems to Avanti Slingshot and JobDirect from MarcomCentral, a Ricoh Co. The shop used a homegrown MIS system for many years, but Boytz admits it was not user friendly and could no longer be updated.
What’s more, in 2017 the university was hit with a ransomware cyberattack, which crashed the server that hosted the order forms. Since then, employees have been entering jobs orders by hand. Boytz is eager to get JobDirect up and running, which he expects to happen by the end of April.
“And we will never look back,” he says.
Another change the in-plant has made is the creation of an advisory board comprised of three of its union workers and three managers. They meet every two weeks to discuss new equipment, processes and procedures. Agendas and minutes are shared with all employees, and they are invited to sit in on those meetings.
One positive result has been an agreement with the in-plant’s two unions to allow cross-training. Every piece of equipment will have a primary operator, a secondary operator and two backups. The program will be overseen by Production Manager April Nero.
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.