In vs. off (line) — A "Fight" to the Finish
At RRD Direct, that capital expenditure is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, invested across 17 finishing lines—11 in-line systems (several of which are dual-webs) and six off-line finishing lines. Trentman says both types of finishing lines have been customized with equipment from most major manufacturers.
"We're an equal opportunity buyer," quips Trentman. "Using various different setups, we can do just about anything. We can personalize with ink-jet, apply remoist and integrated labels, scratch-off coatings, diecuts, overprint varnishes. You name it. We have equipment that does it all. We can even bring another web in to do a wraparound product and also full bleeds."
The finishing lines at RRD Direct are designed to produce the various value-added products needed for direct mail, Trentman notes. "We do a lot of development work to stay current in this area. Much of our equipment is proprietary and one of a kind, customized equipment. On most lines, we can run either single or dual ink-jet personalization."
All the off-lines are variable size, which according to Trentman, can be rapidly reconfigured to run a different comp size—another obvious plus to using the technology.
In the great debate between in-line and off-line, "it all evolves around the issue of time and dollars. With shorter to medium runs, it's cheaper to go off-line; it's more cost efficient to do longer runs in-line, when running in the millions," says Trentman.
As the direct mail market grows—and it's growing dramatically—Trentman says, customers will ask for additional features to be finished into their products. "At RRD Direct, we're sold on finishing lines and will continue buying both in- and off-line equipment," says Trentman. "We'll develop more in-lines for wraparound products [where the envelope is formed around the product, then it goes direct to mail] and more off-lines for additional value-added features."