DIGITAL digestJune 2009
LOS ANGELES—Hewlett-Packard hosted an open house last month for industry press and analysts at O'Neil Data Systems, the first company to install an HP Inkjet Web Press (www.oneildata.com). O'Neil customers were invited to drop by the next day, and HP brought in prospects on the third and final day of the event.
Set for commercial release later this year, the 30?-wide, ink-jet press offers CMYK printing at a 1,200x600 dpi resolution and 400 fpm top speed. O'Neil Data Systems reports it has already been producing commercial work with its unit for some months, including health plan benefit materials and transactional documents. It is also printing "The O'Neil Database," a financial reference publication owned by William O'Neil & Co.
"This press and our HP Indigos represent a huge change in direction for us," noted James Lucanish, O'Neil Data president. "Our customers are better served with full-color content—personalized with the most relevant data—delivered as efficiently and as quickly as possible."
The printer, which currently has a roughly 290,000-square-foot facility, equipped with sheetfed and web offset presses in addition to color and monochrome digital machines, has been transforming itself into a digital operation. The shift has already had a dramatic impact on its inventory requirements, with warehouse space having been reduced from 40,000 square feet to the current 20,000, and projected to drop to 10,000 square feet in the next few years.
In a striking demonstration, personalized copies of that day's Investors Business Daily (a financial newspaper that competes with the Wall Street Journal) were printed on the HP Inkjet Web and delivered to attendees' hotel rooms in the morning.
As part of his opening remarks, Aurelio Maruggi, HP's vice president and general manager of Inkjet High-Speed Production Solutions (IHPS), announced that Consolidated Graphics and Courier Corp. have also agreed to become pilot program installation sites. They're scheduled to receive HP Inkjet Web Press solutions in the second and fourth quarter of 2009, respectively. In addition, the installation at CPI in France is on track for the third quarter, and HP still has a commitment from Taylor Corp.
Once the CPI and Courier installations are complete, the ink-jet press will be running at firms that collectively produce approximately 800 million books annually. These publishing customers see runs between 300 and 3,000 books as the sweet spot for the press.
Books are one of the four applications areas in which HP is developing full solutions with its prepress and finishing partners. According to Maruggi, the others—direct mail, transaction printing and newspapers—are all on track. In addition, the company is developing coated and treated paper solutions optimized for the press, which currently supports a wide range of uncoated offset media.
Representatives from several of the manufacturer's solutions partners participated in a panel discussion during the open house and set up tabletop displays to explain how they fit into HP Inkjet Web configurations. The companies on hand included CMC, EMT International, Hunkeler, MBO America, Muller Martini, Pitney Bowes, Timsons Inc. and Ultimate Technographics.
Kodak Users' Group Seeks Efficiency
ORLANDO, FL—"Efficiency Revealed" was the unifying theme of this year's Graphic User's Association (GUA) annual meeting for users of Kodak workflow, digital printing and computer-to-plate solutions. Individual sessions covered technical topics ranging from Kodak's Unified Workflow to its new Stream ink-jet printing platform, along with management issues such as determining an ROI for technology investments and sustainability.
Attendance was down from last year, but the healthy total registration (including Kodak representatives) still approached 300 people. The 80 or so first-timers more than doubled the previous year's number.
More than 70 sessions (with some repeated) and hands-on classroom courses were offered across the three-day main conference and pre-conference agenda. There also was a lab were attendees could get some one-on-one time with Kodak solutions and technical personnel.
In his welcoming remarks, Tom Clifford, GUA president and prepress process supervisor at RR Donnelley, pointed out the value that can come from participating in the annual conference, but also stressed the year-round benefits of GUA membership, especially access to the online forums. He detailed the number of feature requests that have been incorporated into the latest and pending product releases as evidence of the group's influence.
Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak's chief marketing officer, focused on transformation in Tuesday's keynote. He cited Kodak's own evolution from predominately a consumer products company to a business-to-business solutions provider as evidence that printers can remake themselves into marketing service providers.
Duplicate sessions on Kodak's Stream ink-jet technology were both well attended. They provided an overview of continuous ink-jet printing and updates on the company's product development efforts. The Stream color press implementation reportedly is still set to go into beta testing in the first half of 2010, and be released commercially before the end of next year.
Kodak's Unified Workflow solution and its various components—including ColorFlow, InSite and Prinergy—were discussed in a number of sessions. Implementing rules-based automation (RBA) as a way to increase efficiency was a common theme. Gaining efficiencies through the integration of digital and offset printing workflows was also discussed.
Video excerpts from select presentations and attendee interviews can be viewed by searching for "Kodak GUA" on YouTube.com.
Open House Touts Digital Solutions
CLIFTON, NJ—Sandy Alexander recently greeted about 200 of its closest friends at an open house here for a dedication of its digital division, eSA Solutions, which houses two new HP Indigo 7000 digital presses. More importantly, the venerable printer, situated in the shadows of the Big Apple, took the opportunity to underscore the fact that digital printing has evolved significantly in the past five years.
Mike Graff, who has finished his first year at the helm of Sandy Alexander, is awe-struck at the print quality he's seen from the Indigos. "They're blowing us away," Graff said. "We're doing jobs on them that would've challenged litho, especially with the inking.
All elements of the open house brought in the various capabilities of Sandy Alexander. Attendees were invited to the event via a personalized URL (PURL) campaign, and were presented with Sappi-sponsored, limited-edition Steven Shapiro art prints upon arrival.
During their tour of eSA Solutions, attendees also saw samples from the company's collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service on its "Getting Personal" program to promote one-to-one direct marketing. The campaign not only put Sandy Alexander's digital prowess to the test, it also forced the printer to add iron-on decals to its menu.
The job called for 25,000 –t-shirts to be personalized with four "Hello" name tags that included information from recipients who responded to PURL questions. The kits were marketed toward printers, agencies and direct mail companies. "The best part of it, they were promoting what we do," noted Cheryl Kahanec, executive vice president of eSA Solutions.
Sandy Alexander execs are excited about the printing capabilities of the 7000s, and their ability to churn out custom books for the communications and automotive verticals. The task for them is getting the word out about the capabilities.
"This is a very different sell from offset," Graff explained. "You're selling results, not a commodity. It's a consultative sell and a group sell. We go in (to visit clients) with a salesperson, a creative person and a list/data-type person."
Sandy Alexander's digital department includes a gaping hole that awaits the future installation of a web-based digital press.
The company is one of the most environmentally conscious printers in the industry. Aside from the requisite FSC, SFI and PEFC chain-of-custody certifications, Sandy Alexander is 100 percent wind-powered. And, the new accommodations feature walls painted with low-VOC paint and floors made of recycled, crushed glass.