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'Think Small' Is Service Bureau's Philosphy

September 1998
MIAMI LAKES, FL—The problem: How to increase production volume, offer new services and cut overhead by hundreds of thousands of dollars, all at the same time? The answer, according to Andy Capodiferro, CEO of Laser Computer Graphics, is: think small.

Since adopting that philosophy, Capodiferro's service bureau has grown by 60 percent to $1.4 million in gross revenues.

"Laser Computer Graphics has been a heavy-iron shop since 1979," says Capodiferro. "We had a high-speed production environment with Xerox 8700 and 9700 laser printers. In 1997, we were about to spend $500,000 to install a new Xerox 4635 laser printing system when we got another idea."

As an experiment, Capodiferro married a 32 page-per-minute Xerox DocuPrint N32 network printer to a suite of document formatting and distribution applications called Paris. Paris allowed Laser Computer Graphics to process documents formatted in ASCII, EBCDIC and Xerox DJDE LCDS, and output them to the N32. The Paris suite, which runs on a Pentium PC with Windows 95 or NT, meant documents also could be edited and formatted online.

Control features in the spooler module allowed operators to move jobs or even split individual documents among multiple printers.

"It was a no-brainer," explains Capodiferro. "A N32 costs about $3,000. Four N32s deliver virtually the same output and capability as a 4635, including 11x17˝ printing. Even with the Paris application suite, we still spent less than 10 percent of what it would have cost for a heavy-iron solution. And we're now able to add production capacity at an incremental cost of only $3,000."

Laser Computer Graphics has phased out its big machines in favor of a bank of five DocuPrint N32s. The ongoing benefits to the company have been significant. Because the small printers generate little heat, utility costs have dropped by hundreds of dollars a month. With their simple mechanics, maintenance issues (and contract costs) have largely disappeared and printer availability has actually increased.

While printing companies tend to focus first on the output device, Capodiferro notes that the hero in this story is the software. "I was looking at small printers before, but the software wasn't there. Paris opened doors. It handles input from all types of hardware and software. I can queue 200 jobs and manage them as needed. If a printer goes down, I can move the jobs to another device and keep going."

Capodiferro believes that his vision of flexible, low-cost printing is the wave of the future. "The whole business is becoming more automated," he says.

"Maybe soon we'll be able to just turn out the lights and send everybody home while the computer does all the work."

By Steven Knapp

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