By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
Continuous feed inkjet presses are appropriately positioned for direct mail. Their speeds and feeds, especially on today’s newest models, really address the need for highly variable direct mail pieces executed quickly. Many print providers offering direct mail services rely on digital presses to serve their clientele.
Where We Want to Be
In business since 1994, Direct Technologies, Inc. operates out of three locations—two plants in Atlanta, GA and one in CO. Combined, this equals about 170,000 square feet of operational space for roughly 150 to 200 employees. The company’s client base is made up of financial, healthcare, utilities, retail, and insurance businesses looking for print and mail services like member communications, wellness and provider communications, and traditional inkjet and retail offerings.
About three years ago, Direct Technologies, Inc. started looking into digital printing capabilities, primarily because it wished to have the ability to turnaround large orders with four-color duplex variable data.
Brett Coltman, owner, Direct Technologies, Inc., reached out to Ricoh USA, Inc. and learned about its inkjet devices, specifically the ability to print gloss coated stock without a pretreatment. This led to the purchase of a RICOH Pro VC60000 and a year later a second purchase of the same device. Another inkjet web press was added to the mix a few years ago, the RICOH IP5000, formerly known at the Infoprint 5000.
“We’ve really done well with them. During the last open enrollment period for health insurance, we produced 180 million impressions. Being able to produce two million pieces a day is a real game changer for us,” explains Coltman.
A big part of his admiration for Ricoh is because of the company’s training and support. “If a technician comes to help with an issue and he can’t figure it out, he escalates to the Ricoh production print experts in the central Boulder, CO office. If need be, four hours later, another technician gets on a plane and comes to visit. They go above and beyond,” admits Coltman.
The RICOH Pro VC60000 is a continuous feed inkjet printer with a maximum running speed of up to 492 feet per minute (fpm). It supports paper weights from 40 to 250 gsm, and widths ranging from 6.5 to 20.5 inches. Users print on inkjet coated, uncoated, offset coated, inkjet treated, and recycled paper and use a maximum repeatable printing image area of 20×54 inches.
The RICOH IP5000 is also a continuous feed inkjet printer, which is available in upgradeable color, monochrome, or MICR options. It operates at speeds of up 420 fpm in B&W or 210 fpm in color. High-quality output is achieved at 720×720 dpi resolution. Users can print on uncoated, inkjet treated, and inkjet coated papers up to 220 gsm. An optional extended media dryer adds the capability for additional heavy, light, treated, and coated stocks up to 250 gsm.
According to Coltman, advancements in image quality as well as media options are a game changer. “The engines are faster, the colors are sharper. The color quality is really there now, to the point that even retail customers are impressed. These new inkjets brought us to where we want to be in the market, with speed, quality, and flexibility.”
When it comes to direct mail, Coltan notes that in some ways everything produced at Direct Technologies, Inc. counts as direct mail. But when referring to the more traditional definition like a promotional postcard, he says it’s about 55 percent of the business.
Of course the direct mail pieces are run off of the two RICOH Pro VC6000s and Ricoh InfoPrint 5000—in addition to Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. bizhub PRESS 1250 and Xerox Corporation cutsheet presses. This is complemented by a finishing department that consists of products made by Hunkeler running near line on the continuous feed inkjet presses.
Direct Technologies, Inc. continues to make additions to its business with the goal of meeting faster turnaround times while upholding quality standards. At press time, Coltman was in the process of adding RICOH ProcessDirector print workflow software, which he says will help things move more smoothly, with more visibility.
Modular, scalable print workflow management software, RICOH ProcessDirector provides control over processes and print devices from multiple vendors via a web-based dashboard. It integrates with composition software, and inserters with industry-standard password management and LDAP/AD integration.
Tied to Success
Direct Technologies, Inc. relies on its fleet of digital presses to satisfy customer demand. “In my line of business, success is tied to the ability to deliver lots of impressions quickly without sacrificing quality or accuracy. If I can put a piece in your audience’s mailboxes two weeks faster than the other guy, that’s a huge win. Customers know they can give us a job at 8:00 p.m., get approval, and expect to see 200,000 units in envelopes by the following morning,” explains Coltman.
It continues to make intelligent acquisitions, for example implementing print workflow management software with the goal of ramping up efficiency on the production floor.
Read part one of this series, Actionable Content
Aug2020, DPS Magazine