Production Inkjet Users Share Process Tips for Adopting the Technology
If you're trying to decide if an investment in production inkjet printing equipment would be a practical business decision, Ravinder Birdi, director of operations for Intersections in Chantilly, Va., would probably tell you to take the leap.
"Go for inkjet. It's fun. It's easy. You won't regret it," he said confidently to a room of attendees at the recent 2018 Inkjet Summit.
Birdi and a panel of fellow production inkjet press owners took the stage at the 2018 Inkjet Summit to discuss the business justification process they went through to acquire inkjet with moderator and Printing Impressions Editor-in-Chief Mark Michelson.
Birdi explained that Intersections' decision to install a VarioPrint i300 sheetfed inkjet press from Canon Solutions America within its in-plant facility was driven by the need for color, speed and quality. The process took the company a little more than a year, but he said it was a good decision and that, now, Intersections is a completely inkjet facility.
For Premier Press, President Chris Feryn explained the process of considering inkjet took a bit longer. The Portaland, Ore.-based company had been in wide-format inkjet printing for many years, and began considering production inkjet a few years before actually making the investment in a 23x29˝ Komori Impremia IS29 sheetfed inkjet UV press. But now, it's done what any company strives for when investing in new technology: "It's bringing us more new work," he said. The technology has also allowed Premier Press to move into the half-size market, which it hadn't been in before.
Many times, it's customer demand that drives investments and, for Formost mediaOne, Alex Calpito, director of operations, explained that it was the needs of a long-time client that triggered the inkjet adoption process. When Formost mediaOne, in Brampton, Ontario, eventually made the decision to add an HP T230 PageWide color inkjet web press, Calpito said the company identified all applications that could possibly be transitioned to the press, ran a battery of tests and even had a group of individuals work together to evaluate the technology.
Any large investment takes significant planning and Feryn said that Premier Press' evaluation process included an analysis of the total cost of ownership (TCO) to gain a full understanding of what would be necessary to add production inkjet printing. The company knew that customers wanted more personalization, but he explained it was important that Premier Press wouldn't just end up replacing existing technology with inkjet; instead, the technology needed to be able to expand the company's capabilities. Feryn said it was also important to evaluate vendors and Premier Press decided to have a team of individuals work through the entire process.
Working with a team or various departments is also a strategy Intersections employed. Birdi explained the in-plant worked with its marketing and other departments to find out exactly what it would take to transition to the new technology. The team then went through the cost of acquisition and found a partner Birdi said they could trust, but the final deciding factor was prudent to the business.
"In the end it was the cost per page that won the battle," he said.
If You're Considering Inkjet ...
Overall, the consensus among the panel was that production inkjet technology can provide opportunities and efficiencies to a printing business, however it also requires evaluation and understanding of the process.
Birdi suggested considering finishing equipment requirements up-front and encouraged transparency with customers about the differences between inkjet and offset output quality.
Not only do complementary technologies need to be considered, Calpito explained the importance of thinking holistically about logistics within your shop. He suggested the need to think about electrical requirements and air conditioning before making a final decision, and stressed the importance of finding a vendor that can become a true partner.
Finally, Feryn stressed the importance of finding new markets that production inkjet capabilities will help your company grow into.
"We all talk about the fact that runs are shorter … and how to generate new business," he said. "Challenge yourself and where your business is headed."