Most of the articles published about production inkjet assume the facility will be doing color printing. I’ve written a few of those pieces myself. Variable color is necessary for lots of applications, and ROI calculations for inkjet printers usually include savings from replacing pre-printed paper stock with color logos and form elements printed in line. But what if applications are only black and white? Is there still a reason for switching from the cut-sheet monochrome devices used by so many transactional document printers to roll-to-roll or roll-to-sheet inkjet devices?
Maybe. The benefits of a white paper workflow aren’t all associated with color.
Co-mingling separate applications is a worthy printing objective. It allows for the efficient processing of smaller jobs by eliminating extra overhead. Dynamic perforation in a roll-fed inkjet environment allows document operations to combine jobs formerly separated because of paper stock. Printing two-up doubles the productivity on the printer.
Longer print jobs also extend greater productivity to the finishing operation, where equipment idle time is reduced. These benefits of roll-fed inkjet solutions have nothing to do with color printing.
Dynamic duplexing is another example. Organizations using cut sheet printers will often separate simplex and duplex jobs. They can’t combine them. Switching from simplex to duplex and back on a cut sheet printer can be a performance-buster.
I learned this lesson in my service bureau days when we got our first cut sheet laser printer. Not knowing any better, I used dynamic printer controls to turn the duplex mode on and off. It sounded like a good idea. For the first time, I could batch documents together in a sequence optimized for distribution. We were going to save a ton of time and money spent collating reports and shipping them to their respective owners.
As you may have guessed, I got a nasty call from the print room. “Something’s wrong with your job,” they said, “The printer stops outputting paper, and then it starts up again. It’s doing this over and over. Come fix it.”
The cut sheet printer generated duplex documents by printing the front sides on several pages and storing them before turning them over and printing on the backs. Every time a simplex page came along in the print stream, the printer had to process all the accumulated duplex pages before it could continue. It was pretty ugly from a throughput perspective.
If we consider the same scenario in a twin inkjet environment, print center managers could intermix simplex and duplex pages in a single job with no degradation in throughput. This capability allows the print room to build bigger jobs for the inserters. They can reduce incidents where printers are idle waiting for work, improve density for postal presort discounts, and reduce time spent on manual tasks like job-related paperwork.
Don’t rule out ink jet printing just because color isn’t required. Any shop wishing to increase productivity or lower their postage bills can find benefit in inkjet technologies.
Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants. He helps his clients get the most from their document print and mail centers and prepare strategies for the future. Visit www.printmailconsultants.com and sign up for his free newsletters written especially for document industry professionals.