Expert Panel Talk Inkjet Press Adoption
In a detailed and highly informative panel discussion, Joe Marin, of PIA, moderated a panel of three companies that recently integrated high-speed inkjet into their operations.
Sponsored by the Learning Experience Theater (Booth 3861), the panel discussion featured Brett Birky, Senior VP of operations for Urban Lending; Dwight Blackwell, “problem manager” at Shaw Industries; and John Slaney, CTO and founder of Content Critical Solutions.
Urban Lending serves the banking and financial services industry. Its mailings contain a high degree of nonpublic information and tight SLAs—less than 24 hours. It recently purchased two Ricoh InfoPrint 5000s, as well as high-speed inserting. As a facility built from the ground up, Birky said, “There was never any debate about inkjet being the technology we were going to engage.”
Among the factors impacting which press to purchase? Output quality, stability of the platform, and predictability of the throughput. While quality is important, Birky said, in the transactional space, “it was really the predictability and the ability to perform against strict SLAs.”
For Shaw Industries, manufacturers of commercial and residential flooring, the investment was driven by the need to add new capabilities.
“We had been watching inkjet for a few years,” said Blackwell, who is in process of installing a KM-1. “We were trying to find a machine that could print color and black-and white on the same machine economically.” Shaw Industries also prints on a variety of substrates, and many of its labels were melting on toner-based presses. “Between the larger sheet size of the KM-1, which allows us to print multi-up, and the low internal temperature of the KM-1, this press is able to save us a lot of money,” he said.
The company will now be using inkjet to phase out highlight color and move to a full color process. It is also ramping up its production sales and marketing materials that, in the past, were being done externally.
Slaney of Content Critical Solutions talked about its transition to a full-white paper factory. It purchased its first inkjet press in 2013, an Océ ColorStream 3500, which it has since upgraded to an Océ ColorStream 3900. Although it still maintains some toner-based presses, the ColorStreams have eliminated four to five lines of toner-based machines. Content Critical has also added an Océ Vario-Print i300.
“We used to have 300-400 mastheads sitting on shelves, which have now been converted to full-white paper workflows,” Slaney said. It has also migrated its checks to in-line processing.
All three panelists offered advice to other printers before adding inkjet systems: watch the systems running on the shop floor—not just at the vendor locations; take into consideration which offer the front and back end workflows (including data workflows) that best match your needs; and with the size of these presses, be sure that you have enough space to put them.
Slaney, whose business has seen 15 to 20% YOY growth after installing inkjet, concludes that printers should also be prepared to upgrade their inserters, as well: “There is a lot of stuff coming off the back of this press!”