CUNNINGHAM GRAPHICS INT'L -- A Digital Prospectus
All-digital production also figures into the printer's client inventory management programs with just-in-time production, he says. In this case, initial press runs are run offset, but only in the exact quantity needed at that time. Instead of inventorying printed overruns, Cunningham archives an electronic version of the document and prints copies digitally to meet its clients' subsequent requirements. This approach reduces carrying costs and obsolescence, as well as allows for updating, Mays notes.
The distribute-then-print workflow also is enabled by digital production, Hood points out. "The concept hasn't taken off like the industry hoped, but it has worked for us in some instances," he says.
CGI made a big move into this arena at the end of 1999 by acquiring the five digital printing centers of The McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group. The sites are strategically located across the country, in major metropolitan markets. According to Hood, these centers simultaneously print time-sensitive construction bid information that is customized for specific regions and dropped in the mail for delivery the next day. Using distribute-then-print production helps ensure all recipients are on an equal footing to take advantage of this information, he adds.
The publications have four-color covers that are preprinted monthly via offset, with the monochrome insides printed on Xerox DocuTech 6180 production publisher systems. "Standardization of the software and print engines at these centers is what makes the process work," Hood says.
The organization has since found some client interest in using distribute-then-print production for international applications, as well. Chiefly, this involves producing the same documents in New York, London and Hong Kong, Hood says. "We are still gauging interest on a national basis, though. Customers don't see the need to do it, and they are comfortable working with a primary facility."
Even though he has overall sales responsibility, Mays recognizes that digital printing is the future of the business. "Our digital sales are going to grow at a much faster rate than offset," he predicts. "That doesn't mean offset printing is dead. Its strengths still are longer runs and high-fidelity color."