A View from the Inkjet Summit

July 15th, 2013

George Promis, Vice President of Continuous Forms Production Solutions & Technology Alliances

Every year, I attend a number of industry shows to stay on top of changing trends and, more importantly, to touch base with our most important contacts – our customers. This year’s first-ever Inkjet Summit that took place in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida did not disappoint.  You can read more about the feedback from attendees, including myself, in the current issue of Printing Impressions.

There aren’t enough conferences directly dedicated to the trends and challenges of the inkjet market, and with inkjet technology and solutions continuing to disrupt the industry, the Summit was a welcome opportunity to examine these trends in detail.  I was honored to speak on the Keynote Panel with Joe Raccuia, formerly of Finch Paper and fellow colleagues in the industry about our perspective on the inkjet market opportunity as suppliers and our vision for the future.  The conference also featured panels, case studies and networking lunches on direct mail, transactional printing and book printing, providing attendees with a cross-section of all areas most relevant to their business.

The well-attended event enabled us to connect with a number of current and potential newcustomers in an intimate setting and get a feel for the largest challenges within the industry. As has been the case at many of the shows I’ve attended recently, the complete transition to digital prevailed as the one topic that transcended all areas of the print industry. Offset printers, among others, are seeing that it is time to adopt new technology, and are looking to flesh out the “how” in trying to move forward.   Digital technology now presents little compromise on quality and an advantageous cost and many attendees spoke about their eagerness to take advantage of its various applications.  I was able to provide insight on how Ricoh is always endeavoring to provide solutions that make the move to digital as painless as possible; solutions that include our flexible InfoPrint 5000 platform that was recently announced as the world-wide market leader in high-speed inkjet, and the accompanying Extended Media Dryer, which allows printers to use a variety of coated stocks.

One of the bigger challenges for commercial printers, particularly those who do small projects in specialized areas like book or manual printing, is figuring out how to use digital technology to provide the quality customers demand, combined with maximizing the flexible capabilities of digital. This is particularly true with smaller print shops that need to be more nimble as they grow and respond to the rapidly changing demands from their customers.  My colleague Rich Lloyd recently delved deeper into the reasons for the switch to digital and gave helpful strategies on how to make this booming segment of book printing more profitable.

The Inkjet Summit focused on new technologies that are forming the foundation for inkjet’s future.  We look forward to continuing to embrace the open and lively dialogue with our customers and colleagues that will chart the future, growth and innovation of inkjet – and the larger print industry.  You can read more about the Inkjet Summit in Printing Impressions’ June issue.

Regards,

George Promis

Vice President, Continuous Forms Production Solutions & Technology Alliances, Ricoh

Avanti Continues to Take the Print MIS Market by Storm with Exciting News of Ricoh’s Investment

July 11th, 2013

Avanti prides itself in product innovation and thought-leadership, ensuring our strong position in the Print MIS market. We are excited to announce that Ricoh Company Ltd. of Japan has recently made a significant investment in Avanti.

This new partnership will enable Avanti to accelerate growth and expand our geographic reach.  With a broader customer base, more input and ideas will be incorporated into the development of the product. In fact, Avanti will be revealing a major product announcement at PRINT 13 at Booth 4242 – you will not want to miss this!

As many of you continue to inquire, I’d like to assure you that Avanti will not be acquired by any other Print MIS vendor. The Ricoh investment demonstrates our continued commitment to providing longevity for the company and product, as well as long-term security to our customers and employees.

As always, our goal is to continue to build on our reputation as the most open platform for Print MIS in the market today, to support our customers’ current and future requirements in workflow automation, and provide innovative software that helps our customers improve their bottom line.  This is great news for Avanti, Ricoh and the print industry.

I will be available to answer any questions or provide information regarding this new relationship.  Please feel free to comment below or send me an email at pbolan@avantisystems.com.

- Patrick Bolan

President and CEO, Avanti Computer Systems

8 Tips to Help You Select the Right Inkjet Web

July 10th, 2013

Rob Malkin, Business Development Executive, Ricoh

Having to select an inkjet web system is inevitable, given the shift to short runs and print on demand. I’ve been in your shoes, and perhaps I can save you some time.

In 1983, I started C&M Press, a short run book manufacturer. In 2003, I sold 50 percent of the business to National Printing and Packaging. In 2005, myself and the owner of National Printing, together with Hirschfeld Press, formed National Hirschfeld. This company was a large, full-service, heat-set web, sheet-fed and digital operation. We installed the first commercial InfoPrint 5000 digital inkjet web for the custom college textbook market.

Over the years, I’ve learned that all inkjet systems have strengths and weaknesses, which makes it all the more important to be sure your evaluation is thorough. Some of the most important things to consider:

  • Types of jobs. At one end of the spectrum are digital presses designed for long-run jobs that are the same size and use the same stock. With these presses, setup takes a lot of time and you’ll waste a lot of paper changing from one job to another. At the short-run end of the spectrum, you’ll want to look for inkjet presses that make job setups easy, without a lot of waste. Speed is also a factor here. For example, if you have monthly jobs with SLAs, you’ll want to be sure the device can meet your turnaround times comfortably, including time for setup.
  • Web width. The wider the web, the more involved the finishing, and this doesn’t lend itself to short runs.
  • Types of stock. If you’re mostly using paper specifically designed for inkjet printing, then stock isn’t much of an issue. If you want to use coated stocks or other specialty papers, then you’ll have to dig deeper into the printer’s capabilities. The design of the paper path may be a factor. Ask the manufacturer about which papers have been tested with the printer, and ask to see samples. If they’re reluctant to provide samples of your jobs, be wary. Also, you’ll see a big difference in productivity if you can install profiles for stocks and switch stocks by pressing a button.
  • Upgradeability and interoperability. Are field upgrades offered? Can different models from the manufacturer be connected so you can run a line of color and MICR, for example? Can you upgrade from mono to color? Replacing devices is a lot more expensive in the long run.
  • Life of inkjet heads.  The lifespan of heads on the market today range from about six weeks up to 18 months. When an inkjet head goes out, it takes time to calibrate and bring it back up to speed. Be sure to find out how much paper you’ll run through to set up each new head so you can build this cost into your ROI scenarios.
  • Energy consumption. Find out how the printers compare in their use of energy. If you’re running two or three shifts, high energy costs can really cut into margins.
  • Color management.  Different devices offer very different capabilities for color management. When you see a demo, have the operator adjust color profiles for different stocks so you can see what’s involved. And ask what percentage of PMS colors can be matched.
  • Variable data publishing. Variable data files can be large because every page can be different. If the front-end controller can’t rip through these smoothly, then you’re going to have hiccups in production.

Inkjet web is ideal for the book industry, and it can save you money. But you have to get the right system. Because of my experience, I can generally look at any operation—books, direct mail, general commercial jobs—and quickly determine what solutions fit best. If you have any questions as you’re going through your evaluation process, contact me at rob.malkin@ricoh-usa.com.

Rob Malkin

Business Development Executive, Ricoh

More Integrity for Your Output; More Value For Your Clients: The New TotalFlow DocEnhancer Verification Feature

July 1st, 2013

With many of you looking for new and trusted ways to increase the value provided to your clients, a simple and cost-effective tool to verify and track each piece of your output is likely a priority.  The latest addition to our critical communications suite of solutions addresses that need.  We’ve built a new Verification Feature for RICOH TotalFlow DocEnhancer that enables you to simply add a unique barcode to PDFs that identifies each piece within a file and then integrates with your scan or camera technology to track and report that each piece was properly produced.  The TotalFlow DocEnhancer PDF Plug-In enables you to edit print-ready PDFs directly and instantly on the print floor, and this new enhancement brings more integrity to your process with a low cost of entry – an advantage in increasingly regulated print environments.  Want to see it in action?  Watch this demo:

The new Verification Feature also empowers you to reconcile missing pieces, start reprint jobs and create valuable visual reports conveying job completion status. We’ve made some additional improvements to TotalFlow DocEnhancer, making it easier than ever to deal with the valuable information contained in print-ready PDFs.  A new rules manager, expanded font support and improved user interface offer more flexibility and power in automating PDF editing.

Want to learn more about how TotalFlow DocEnhancer and the broader critical communications suite of solutions can work for your business?  To schedule a demo of DocEnhancer, please contact me at Miranda.Reeves@ricoh-usa.com.   If you’d like a free trial, please visit this link.

Miranda Reeves

Senior Product Manager

Case Study: Tackling Print Management and Workflow Process Challenges with Smarter Solutions

June 18th, 2013

Written by Kevin Sullivan, President of CCS Printing

Kevin Sullivan, president of CCS Printing

As a provider of a vast range of solutions, from basic print services to multichannel fulfillment solutions, we at CCS Printing know the importance of finding reliable print management solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. A perfect case in point is when a large insurance company approached us to aid them in delivering higher integrity critical communications. We knew we could find the customer a software solution that would guarantee efficient and reliable results.

After evaluating the competition for print management and workflow process solutions, we could see that the RICOH ProcessDirector workflow solution was unmatched in its field. Partnering with Ricoh and utilizing its critical communications suite of solutions helped us enter a new territory in the industry, while still protecting the integrity of the client and minimalizing the possibilities of regulatory violations. With Ricoh’s critical communications suite of solutions, we can manage new applications from end-to-end, from driving the print process to managing the integrity through the mailing insertion equipment.

It was important to CCS Printing to have a system in place that could guarantee the integrity of documentation in a high-volume environment with millions of pages being printed each month. The barcode system implemented by the RICOH ProcessDirector verifies that each statement ends up in the appropriate envelope. Furthermore, the system will inform the operator if any statement is misplaced, which saves time, money and safeguards against mismatched statements.  With these seamless capabilities, CCS Printing makes clients feel comfortable knowing that sensitive documentation is secure and any Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)  requirements are met.

CCS Printing has been successful because we are always seeking the best, most trusted technologies, which means more and more clients are coming to us to meet their critical communications challenges. With the RICOH ProcessDirector and the Ricoh services team, we’re excited to enter new markets and provide new services to our valued customers. It’s exciting to be able to continue growing the company with solutions that are efficient, effective and reliable.

Take a look at this video of our operations and hear more about how we are leveraging RICOH ProcessDirector.

PDF Editing Made Easy: What the Analysts Are Saying…

May 30th, 2013

Greg Cholmondeley of PODi recently wrote about one of our latest products that is aimed to help you solve problems that crop up just before production starts — without having to send the job back to design.  TotalFlow DocEnhancer is an Adobe plug-in created to help you make last-minute changes and define rules for your PDF jobs including PDF editing and adding a barcode to a PDF file.  Greg has spent a lot of time with our experts here at Ricoh to learn about our workflow portfolio, and this is the first offering he’s reviewed for us.  Here’s a quick sampling of what Greg thought of TotalFlow DocEnhancer:

…if the production file came in as a PDF, you could use a slick little product from Ricoh called DocEnhancer to extract your job from the flames of disaster…DocEnhancer is an Adobe Acrobat Professional plugin that lets you define rules for splitting apart the separate mailings in your PDF personalized mailing file – even if the number of pages varies for each recipient. You can extract information from each mailing and augment them with QRCodes, images or text. For example, you could cover for a geographically-impaired design department by replacing the Washington Monument image with a photo of the Space Needle for Washington state recipients. You could erase all mention of a client’s recently-indicted CFO from every letter. You could even add in a QRCode of the Personalized URLs on each mailing.

Watch this video review on the PODi Insights blog for more.

To schedule a demo of DocEnhancer, please contact Miranda.Reeves@ricoh-usa.com.   If you’d like a free trial please visit this link.

Thank you!

Rich Lloyd

Digital to Offset Offerings Manager, Ricoh

Making Money with an Automated Publishing Workflow

May 24th, 2013

Manual book manufacturing processes drive up labor costs. And that takes a big bite out of profits. By removing as

Rich Lloyd, Global Offset to Digital Offerings Manager, Ricoh

many manual touch points as possible, book manufacturers can become super efficient and cut labor costs. The best way to achieve this is to automate your publishing workflow.

Workflow means different things to different people, so I usually talk about publishing workflow as having three parts:

  1. The first part is the order, which includes pre-production steps like order submission, ticketing and preflight including imposition.
  2. The second part is production, which includes moving tickets through the production floor, tracking orders through finishing, and finishing.
  3. The third part is capturing production costs, shipping information, etc., so you can use this information to improve operations moving forward.

If you’re doing some or most of these steps manually for lots of orders, it’s a real challenge to keep track and hit deadlines. But when all three parts or a combination of the three are automated, you have the cornerstone for an efficient, error-free workflow.

Automate Orders

How do you receive orders and create job tickets? Maybe you go to an FTP site, get a file and create a ticket manually. If you get the same order 50 times, you write a new ticket every time. Or, maybe you have a direct connection with the publisher’s ERP system. If your workflow is automated, the order can be routed directly into your accounting and estimating system and then the PDF file can be sent directly into the print management system where a ticket is created dynamically. Even better would be a web-to-print workflow, which allows customers to submit orders from their browser. The ticket can be created dynamically, so all a customer service rep does is review the job, confirm the ticket and push it to production.

Impositioning

When impositioning is automated, you can dramatically cut down on makeready time and errors.  Speed up the production of books by allowing the imposition solution to dynamically create the imposition based on the job, your output solution, and finishing requirements.

Print Management

In an automated workflow, it is critical to have a view into the entire print production process.  You want to know where each job is in the overall manufacturing process and at the same time understand the deadline for that job and whether you have exposures on getting it shipped to your end customer. With a single point of control, you can see everything that’s happening in your shop and make scheduling adjustments as needed.

There’s no question that on demand book printing, ultra short runs and variable data printing present some challenges. Fortunately, many of them can be solved with automated publishing workflow.

Rich Lloyd

Global Offset to Digital Offerings Manager, Ricoh

Postal Optimization: Maximizing Your Postal Discounts

May 16th, 2013

Recently at both Mailcom and the National Postal Forum, we had conversations with many of you about maximizing postal discounts, efficiently tracking mail using Intelligent Mail® barcode (IMb), maintaining address quality, dealing with undeliverable mail, weaving mailing tasks into workflow and much more. Companies like you producing large scale mailings are looking for help in securing postal savings all while improving workflow and overall mail project efficiencies.

What is most important for companies with large scale mailings to address is something we like to call Postal Optimization.

A simple term, but not a simple process, and without it, you run the risk of submitting mail to the USPS that does not adhere to its strict standards and fails to qualify for the many discounts.  So, what steps can you take to make it possible?

The first step any mailer company can take is to look to software and hardware solution providers that can offer the type of sophisticated technology that integrates properly with postal regulations and eases the pain points allowing you to maximize your productivity and cost savings, all while taking advantage of the full array of postal discounts available.

Achieving this level of best practice postal optimization takes planning and patience, but you can be assured that achieving good results are possible. The areas to pay attention to are:

  • Mail Cleansing – The USPS requires mailers taking automation discounts on postage to adhere to a certification program known as CASS, for Coding Accuracy Support System.  In plain English, CASS is the post offices way of trying to cut down on wrongly addressed mail. Finding a solution that integrates properly with CASS products, can save a high-volume mailer large sums of money in wasted postage and labor costs associated with wrongly addressed mail, all while allowing for the USPS discount.
  • Intelligent Mail Bar Code (IMb) Printing – this tracking identifier enables the USPS to provide the feedback on automated mail pieces.  A solution that can help a mailer capture the feedback data made available by this identifier can allow for less incorrect addresses, a smoother delivery process and additional postal discounts.
  • Postal Accuracy Validation and Evaluation (PAVE) – like the CASS certification, the USPS provides discounts to companies using PAVE certified software that accurately sorts addresses into a zip-code ordered mailing. Once again, with the right software solution designed to work with PAVE certifications, mailers can get their mailings into the type of condition the post office demands and realize large discounts as a result.

These are just a few areas where the right software solution can save you a significant amount of time and money.  Others include delivery and address tracking, electronic notifications from USPS about undeliverable mail, reply mail tracking and more.  In many cases hundreds of thousands of dollars can be realized just taking these steps to ensure solutions are in place to address all the regulations and tracking issues associated with large scale mailings.

At Ricoh, we’ve developed a family of mail and workflow software solutions that help connect companies directly to the USPS systems taking the guess work out of discounts, regulations and getting the most information possible out of each and every mailing.

See for yourself on this page:  professional services offerings or email us at psmail@ricoh-usa.com.

Best,

Ned Otey

Solutions Architect

See What’s Hot at Mailcom: Postal Discounts, IMb, Address Quality and More!

May 1st, 2013

The Jersey Shore isn’t just the setting for an entertaining reality TV show; it’s also the epicenter of the East Coast’s big postal event this year – Mailcom.  This week, Ricoh is at the show speaking with companies just like yours about reducing print and mailing costs, while increasing revenues through smarter targeting and analytics.  Our booth, #315, showcases the full range of solutions from creation to finishing that can help you achieve cost-effectiveness, integrity and efficiency.  Visitors to our booth are exploring the latest techniques for web-to-print, maximizing postal discounts, efficiently tracking mail using IMb, maintaining address quality, dealing with undeliverable mail, weaving mailing tasks into their workflow and tapping into their customer data to leverage analytics to increase the relevance of their communications (as we’ve discussed before, relevancy is key as we’re all being inundated with marketing messages each day).

Show attendees have been especially interested in how to secure postal savings and improve document workflow.  Here are some of the hot topics that my colleagues and I are discussing with visitors:

  • How to use print management and workflow tools to tackle address quality and sortation.  As mailers increasingly look to take advantage of discounts via the USPS’s PAVE standards, we’ve also answered many questions about how our solutions allow companies to do so easily
  • The January 2014 deadline for the implementation of IMb is looming over the industry and is a source of much chatter – and anticipation – at the show.  The postal discounts that many companies have not yet taken advantage of will disappear before your eyes if you don’t put IMb in place.  We’re showing attendees how they can print IMbs on the mail pieces so they qualify for these mail discounts and also generate unique, or identical, IMb values to send and remit mail pieces
  • Making mailrooms smarter.  As companies transition from the inefficient, unruly mailrooms that are filled with backlogged return mail and change of address cards, they’re looking to use CASS and BCC’s NCOALink™ to keep track of their customer’s new addresses.  We also demonstrated how users can capture USPS feedback about when mail was delivered, who made payments, who responded to offers, and which pieces were undeliverable using mail intelligence solutions like Mail Insight.

On the heels of the National Postal Forum, we’re thankful to have yet another opportunity to connect with the mailers – hopefully many of you readers – who are responsible for the next generation of the postal industry.  If you’re interested in hearing more about our solutions and weren’t able to speak with us at the show, feel free to e-mail me at Bill.Shaffer@ricoh-usa.com.

Until next time,

Bill Shaffer

Manager, Worldwide Software Alliances, Ricoh

Ricoh is U.S. Inkjet Web Press Market Share Leader for Fifth Straight Year

April 29th, 2013

Mike Herold, Worldwide Product Manager, Inkjet Technologies, Ricoh

I always tell my kids that winning isn’t the most important thing – it’s trying your best and putting forth your best effort. But I have to admit: it still feels great to come in first place!

Today, the InfoPrint 5000 has been named the high-speed market share leader in the U.S. – for the fifth year in a row! (see the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide High-Speed Inkjet Web Press 2013 Vendor Analysis report).

This is great news – not just because we’re leaders – but because of what backs up market leadership, and what this means to our customers. Examples of this can be: the experience of working with lots of different types of businesses in many industries; global customer support, which includes maintenance experts and a worldwide parts distribution system; and the best practices that come out of solving production print challenges for enterprises, service bureaus and commercial printers.

When we began developing the InfoPrint 5000, we took a different approach with three platforms, multiple models, configuration flexibility and a commitment to onsite upgrades. This approach was validated by customers whom we have worked side by side with from the very beginning. Their feedback then and today influences the product roadmap. And today, the InfoPrint 5000 has produced 40 billion production impressions worldwide!

As mentioned in IDC’s MarketScape report, customers can also enjoy low cost per page, speed and reliability, factors that are shaping the future of high-volume print and mailing applications.

Our goal is to bring more to the table than a superior product. Knowledge. Support. Experience. Business guidance. These things matter just as much to our customers. Many are transitioning from offset or targeting new applications or banking on inkjet web to help them grow. Our job is to make sure our customers are successful.

Mike Herold
Worldwide Product Manager, Inkjet Technologies, Ricoh