Digital monochrome devices have been the workhorses of the quick and small commercial printing segment for many years. These copier decendents have been the catalyst for shifting most monochrome work from the offset press to toner-based output equipment. As this freed the presses to take on higher quality work, in many ways one could say that digital monochrome was a significant component of the color revolution that began in earnest during the mid-1990s.
Today’s digital monochrome equipment bears little resemblance to the humble machines that initially shouldered their way into the print shop’s bread-and-butter work. They are as sophisticated and complex as any other tool in the printer’s arsenal. We could talk about dpi, duty cycles, and output speeds, but there are more important issues at hand. For those who really want maximum efficiency from this type of equipment, it helps to see the bigger picture.
To that end, I asked representatives of the major equipment manufacturers just what capabilities are available and what printers need to know about the latest generation of these machines. Here are some of their observations and advice. However, if you'd like to read all of the interviews in their entirety-and they are well worth the read-go to quickprinting.com and read our Web Exclusive called “The Monochrome Monologues.”
Kevin Kern, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Senior Vice President, Marketing
I think the big thing is to really understand the types of inline finishing that can happen. The days of tape binding or stapling being the only major inline finishing are long gone. You have some pretty sophisticated abilities to bind books. For perfect binding, you can build your covers on your color device, add inserts, and integrate tabs in a perfect bound or a saddle stitched product. You are providing a much higher value output in the pages, but with no additional labor costs. Set up is very small compared to doing it off line or not offering the service at all. So they really offer the capability to give a much broader range of product offerings to your customer set.
Also, the image quality and volume handling capabilities are as good as ever at a price point that is far better than it was 10 years ago. The range of media you can print on is much wider. You have a lot of sophisticated capabilities. You can do GBC punching, inline perfect binding, inline saddle stitching. They have very sophisticated front ends that allow really good job management and usually pretty good integration upstream to workflow.
Successful printers are reaching out beyond print just being printing. They may be doing fulfillment, inventory management, or adding marketing services. It’s one way of moving up the value chain, and then the volume comes along behind it. You really have to pitch your services in terms of productivity.
And the other thing is the printer has to be selling. A lot of owners I talk to are selling like they’ve always done. They’re not selling the value equation that they have to offer. You really have to know how to sell the value of your offering and give more of a value added sales proposal to the customer than, “Hey, we can produce these at this price.”
Derrick Doi, Xerox Corp., Vice President, Worldwide Quick and Franchise Print Global Business Group
The image quality for the new generation of monochrome digital devices is outstanding. And vendors are offering more advanced in-line finishing options that give customers more application flexibility and productivity.
The new generation of monochrome devices support a more robust and versatile range of substrates. Heavier weight and coated stocks can be run through these newer monochrome devices previously only possible on offset presses. Applications can now be transitioned to digital and run in a print-on-demand system versus a print and warehouse system. Many systems also enable hybrid—color and monochrome—document creation with sheet and or cover insertion modules.