Commercial printers, direct mailers and print service providers continue to invest in inkjet to provide innovative solutions to their customers. Inkjet is enabling new sales for applications with highly variable content that would be too costly or take too long to produce on offset presses. I had the opportunity to speak with three Screen Americas customers about how inkjet has transformed their companies, why they continue to invest in new technology, and the impact on their own customers.
Each company described very different inkjet journeys. I interviewed:
- Nick DeBlasio, Business Development, JD Graphic, a commercial print and direct mail services provider.
- Geoffrey Eisenberg, COO, Tidewater Direct, a trade printer servicing commercial print, direct mail, and print procurement agencies.
- Taylor Blackwell, President, Walker 360: a commercial print and direct mail service provider.
Workflow Automation Is Never Done
For DeBlasio and Blackwell, the biggest difference in workflow and mindset were the changes needed for data processing, file set-up and pre-press functions. Each major job was evaluated for improved workflow at each step in the production process. Manual steps that were previously done when jobs arrived, are handled upfront with testing, programming, and new templates. As jobs migrated from offset to inkjet they were automated. Blackwell spoke about the ongoing effort to continually improve finishing and reduce or eliminate manual steps. His company has engaged in ongoing learning and education with peer groups, vendors, and industry conferences to continually learn how to improve and automate finishing.
Seven years ago Tidewater Direct installed their first Screen inkjet press. Eisenberg continues to invest in finishing to deploy faster, automated solutions that keep up with print engines. Automated workflows are driving customer results. With more automation on both the front end and in finishing, all three companies spoke of the impact to their customers. Inkjet enables printers to manage fully personalized and customized content, and run jobs with minimal operator intervention. Jobs that previously meant multiple days in pre-press and proofing, now go directly to a print queue. In these improved workflow environments customers get the benefit of less time for set-up, elimination of proofs, shorter manufacturing time—resulting in improved time to market.
The Right Strategic Partner
After significant research of all the available inkjet platforms, these three companies partnered with Screen. Their collective comments define the real value of a strategic partnership. Screen provides best in class solutions with ink sets that deliver vibrant consistent quality on offset stocks. Screen’s customers talk of the excellent support and responsiveness during installation and with ongoing service. DeBlasio also spoke of the impressive support beyond the technology as they installed their first inkjet press. Screen assisted with ideas and strategies for JD Graphic’s sales and customer service teams.
Implementing inkjet has enabled JD Graphic to go from zero to 80 million pieces of direct mail produced in 10 months. Before installing the Screen inkjet, they outsourced all direct mail. Walker 360 is now producing catalogs and newsletter with fully variable content and no proofs. Really, no proofing. The client understands the automated workflow and any proofing is done before the jobs are submitted.
All three companies are producing jobs and have won new business that they could not have done without continuous feed inkjet. Inkjet has enabled these companies to support new applications with one printer. Blackwell and DeBlasio were pleased when new customers found them because of their inkjet capabilities.
Inkjet adoption continues to drive change in the print and mail industry. Leaders like Blackwell, DeBlasio, and Eisenberg understand the need for ongoing education and research to understand the impact of new technologies.
Don’t underestimate your staff’s ability to change and adapt to new technologies. Be transparent with customers and employees so they fully understand the various options for quality and speed. Time to market may be your customers’ most desirable outcome. The best partnerships are based on mutual trust. Customers are looking for innovative ways to provide more personalized and customized content across all types of communications.