Q: Most quick and small commercial printers are running hybrid digital/offset workflows. What criteria should they consider when deciding whether a monochrome job should be sent to a press or a digital output device?
A: The key factors in determining whether to send a print job to a press or digital output device are: quantity, turnaround time, and personalization. If a job requires a large quantity with significant economies of scale—typically in the 2,000-5,000 impression range—it will be more cost efficient to run the job offset. If turnaround time is the greatest factor (and it is a manageable amount), digital output may be more suitable. It may be possible for the higher digital costs for a longer run to be offset by charging a premium for a short turnaround time. Finally, when personalization is the factor, this heavily favors digital due to its ability to utilize variable data cost effectively.
Q: Are your customers seeing growth in the demand for digital monochrome jobs, or are they doing different kinds of jobs than they’ve done in the past?
A: The industry as a whole is currently witnessing a decline in demand for strictly monochrome digital work. This decline is primarily seen in static work, such as forms or other commodity products. One key to growth in monochrome is embracing variable technology for personalization and then leveraging available technology to productively do more complicated jobs, such as those jobs that require multiple color inserts, tabs, or finishing.
Q: With so many MFPs and digital devices placed in offices, how can print service providers differentiate their services to continue receiving monochrome jobs?
A: Print service providers (PSP) can easily differentiate themselves by leveraging the technology and services they can offer a customer. In-office copiers have specific applications that they are most suitable for, but when it comes to higher run, higher quality production of complex documents, including finishing, a PSP can generally produce this type of work more cost effectively than a typical office copier. PSPs should also focus on more than just marketing their monochrome business, especially if they can leverage color technology and other services.
Q: Do you see any of your customers running monochrome jobs on color machines? If so, what are the economies of scale involved in this practice?
A: The decision to run monochrome on a color machine varies by the product and pricing structures, and some customers can cost effectively run monochrome jobs on color machines. We see this most frequently when the volumes of black-and-white work are not there to justify purchasing a separate machine. Toner-based devices typically offer a lower click rate for black-and-white work and different products have different optimum color to black-and-white copy ratios.
Typically, some users prefer separating the work to the most appropriate device by automating this process. A seamless workflow that can intelligently route work to the appropriate device based on content is key to this automation.
Ricoh Americas Corporation
Kurt Konow, Data Center Segment Marketing Manager, Production Printing Business Group
Q: There is a lot of confusing terminology describing digital monochrome output devices in the current marketplace. How do you differentiate between a printer or copier/printer and a digital press? (For example, is the determining factor the duty cycle, speed, resolution, service reliability, or something else entirely?) Or is it all just marketing semantics?
A: A quick check of the Internet finds the definition of “digital press” generally refers to a workflow process (i.e.: printing from a digital file). Therefore, it might be more about semantics, considering how most of the copiers, printers, MFPs, digital press, etc., can produce output from digital files. However, there are those companies promoting digital presses that would like the customers/prospects to perceive a heavier duty cycle, more robust construction, beefier machine when they hear “digital press.”