Three Key Considerations Before Taking the Production Inkjet Leap
The 2018 Inkjet Summit took place this past April 9-11 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. I have always found this to be an interesting forum. For one, major hardware vendors have figured out how to create a hardware show without showing hardware. Good for them, as it saves everyone money. The next reason is that the Inkjet Summit is invitation-only, where pre-qualified attendees meet and learn from the top leaders in the industry through a speed dating style of interviewing and intensive networking. What could be more perfect for a vendor than the opportunity for 1:1 meetings with qualified prospects - or for the prospect to get all their technology questions answered by the top suppliers in the industry?
Within just two days, the Inkjet Summit makes it possible for both sides of the spectrum to network with valuable contacts. Attendees at the Summit were from printing companies and corporate enterprises looking to understand their options before they make a major investment decision around production inkjet printing technology. Additionally, attendees, who have already made an initial investment, were seeking information on what capabilities are available in the next generation of inkjet technology. Many of the new devices have expanded capabilities, offering the ability to print with a host of different substrates and inks, making it possible for a print service provider to expand into new markets.
However, the overarching question I heard the most at the Inkjet Summit was how to justify the spend on this technology. That is the challenge and, unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
In our experience, we have found that before any decisions are made concerning hardware selection and related software technology, three initial considerations need to be looked at to create a business case for the purchase:
- First, you should take an inventory of your applications to gain a fundamental understanding of what your needs are from a capabilities and volume perspective. It is important to determine if there is a demand and budget from customers or from internal lines of business for color documents.
- Second, understand that a move to production inkjet, due to its inherent speed advantage over toner-based systems, means the capability of producing significantly more volume needs to be addressed. This requires an analysis of your workflows to assess the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that implementing inkjet technology would eliminate, to help establish how you would support these increased volumes.
- Finally, it is important to do a thorough cost analysis to determine pricing and profitability: What are the appropriate ink sets for your applications and matching papers? What direct costs, labor costs and indirect costs will affect your net cost per page vs. what you are able to charge?
These three steps are a good start at creating a proposal that will support your business case for whether or not investing in inkjet technology makes sense for your business.
Our recent research, Color Print Migration Market Update (2017), indicates a continued growth in inkjet and the migration from toner to inkjet pages. One of the biggest “ahas” from this research is that there is still a significant number of monochrome pages being produced today that provide an opportunity for inkjet transfer. At the Inkjet Summit you could feel the excitement around the fact that print is experiencing a revival thanks to the lower capital investment needed to acquire this technology. With research continuing to support the fact that color inkjet technology offers boundless opportunities for the printing industry, we believe print service providers and enterprises in need of an equipment refresh should strongly consider making the investment. Just do your homework first.
About the Author
Kemal Carr is the president of Madison Advisors.