When it comes to the trends impacting in-plant printers, the fact of the matter is, they aren’t all that much different from the wider world of print. Having to find ways to produce new and creative messages, expanding to new technologies as applications grow and expand, finding and retaining talent, balancing automation with workflow, and trying to make sense of the expanding types of print technologies and where they fit into your shop’s processes—or not—are just as critical for in-plants as they are for the any other printer.
“I think because the print space has seen the profit margins decrease over the years, we are seeing a trend that is demanding more output from less personnel and machinery to keep costs down and production high,” notes Reuben Quesus, President and CEO, Web to Print Shop Solutions/Racad Tech (Booth 148).
“Customers that need printing applications require faster turn arounds and shorter runs all with data geared to their specific market and customer,” says Joe Bondonna, Product Manager at Spiral (Booth 3808). “This especially applies to the in-plant.”
In-plant printers are becoming far more savvy. Shop managers of in-plants aren’t just individuals who happened to be in the right place at the right time. They are fully trained and skilled print operators themselves, who know the industry as well as any other printer. And that has far-reaching consequences.
“On our side, we see a growing need for affordable yet advanced web-to-print technology that can facilitate online catalogs of product, to be easily indexed and found for quick and easy ordering,” says Quesus. “I think that gone are the days when in-plants would accept whatever price was presented them. They are discriminating and scrutinizing what the deliverables are for what they are getting.”
In-plants are under the same pressures to produce work faster and more efficiently, while at the same time doing it at a lower price point. And while in some cases, in-plants do take outside work and self-sustain their own budgets, in other cases, in-plants are working with increasingly smaller budgets that are outside of their control. But at the same time, these shops are all being tasked with producing more eye-catching and creative work. It all drives home the point that in-plants aren’t just the red-headed stepchild of the print world—in-plants are just as rich and complex—with the same challenges and opportunities—as every other type of printer in the nation.
If you are an in-plant printer, take heart that not only has your voice been heard, there are solutions geared toward your needs. “PRINT 17 offers the opportunity to meet fellow in-plant operators and discuss shared experiences and problem solutions,” says David Conrad, Director of Sales and Marketing, Mutoh America (Booth 4241). “Go to seminars to listen to print experts speak and meet product vendors that offer solution driven products.”