At Johnson & Quin, Inc., digital output has been a cornerstone of the Niles, Illinois-based print provider’s production mix since the 1980s. Digital print also has been a key to winning new business for this leading independent supplier of direct mail and integrated marketing solutions.
An early practitioner of variable data printing to help its clients distribute individualized marketing messages, Johnson & Quin has embraced the personalization phenomenon whole-heartedly. Keeping up with customer demand has been made immensely easier because of the SCREEN Truepress Jet520ZZ.
Installed in September 2014, SCREEN’s ultrafast inkjet web press has lived up to its reputation as a digital powerhouse. Its maximum speed of 721 feet per minute and web width of up to 20.5 inches give Johnson & Quin a highly efficient variable printing workflow to enhance production flexibility, accelerate turnaround times and trim costs associated with targeted direct mail programs.
“The Truepress Jet520ZZ allows us to print full-colour personalized communications, from test to high-volume rollout project, with no downtime,” said Andrew Henkel, vice president of sales. “Four-colour inkjet is the ideal alternative to traditional offset shell printing and monochrome laser overprinting for meeting our production and quality needs. The latest generation of continuous-feed inkjet equipment produces incredible quality, reduces time to market and has production costs comparable to traditional methods. Preprinted forms will be almost entirely eliminated in the not-so-distant future.”
David Henkel, president, and Andrew Henkel, vice president of sales, Johnson & Quin
Optimism for the future is in Johnson & Quin’s blood. Few businesses possess a similar record of longevity. Founded in 1876, the company evolved into a national leader by deploying the latest technologies in the face of changing marketplace conditions. For instance, in 1979, Johnson & Quin pioneered the implementation of laser printing in the Midwest, paving the way for full-service direct mail production. Such a pioneering spirit drove the company’s pursuit of production-class inkjet devices.
“Being a leader in technology, we reasoned that it was better to be on the front end rather than on the back end of this,” said Bob Arkema, executive vice president. “We had monitored the progress of inkjet for years, but until the past few years the print quality didn’t rise to our standards.”
The actual process of evaluating inkjet presses took six months and involved five major vendors, including SCREEN.
“Our existing production workflow consisted of Didde narrow-web presses for the preprinted shells and roll-to-roll monochrome laser machines to apply the variable data,” Arkema said. “We compared that method to several inkjet platforms in order to determine a competitive rate for our clients. We devised a print test for everyone using the same file. We began to recognize characteristics in the print that were superior or inferior depending upon the speed and output resolution. As we narrowed the choice of competing equipment down, we showed printed samples to our clients. Before we moved forward with any device, we wanted to know that the quality of inkjet met their requirements.”
Johnson & Quin serves clients in the financial services, insurance, retail and nonprofit sectors. Approximately 120 employees work at a single facility with 105,000 square feet of space.
High-volume letter mail constitutes the bulk of print jobs printed at Johnson & Quin. Runs printed on the Truepress Jet520ZZ range from 1 million to 15 million pieces for Individual campaigns. Johnson & Quin devoted much of 2015 converting projects and existing customers over to colour inkjet.
“Sixty percent of our total print volume and 85 percent of the work that can fit on the Truepress have migrated to inkjet,” Henkel said. “This year, we are focusing heavily on new business opportunities. We have the capability to print self-mailers and glossy pieces on the Truepress, and are offering more of that.”
“For most direct mail letters and self-mailers, the pricing and quality of inkjet are at least equal to conventional offset printing and laser personalization,” Arkema added. “That was a big factor for us. We have since discovered that ink usage and stock types contribute to savings for applications in the financial services and insurance industries. Ink coverage is not super-heavy, and clients are able to run commodity offset paper.”
As Johnson & Quin’s customers became more comfortable with inkjet’s advantages, they quickly understood the creative possibilities of unlimited versioning and variability, according to Arkema.
“Our clients started varying their programs significantly more and faster than we had anticipated,” Arkema said. “They can incorporate very specific offers, copy and images in a single pass through the press. In the past, they were worried about plate change charges and mail streams. We aren’t printing hundreds and thousands of versions yet, but we expect to at some point.”
The Truepress Jet520ZZ is configured with two printing units in tandem. The dual-engine arrangement enables printing on both sides of the roll.
“Compared to other models that featured slower printing speeds, the faster ZZ handles our workload with one press,” Henkel noted. “Otherwise, we would have had to consider purchasing two presses.”
The time from data to mail is substantially shorter, and managing and storing inventory is no longer necessary, especially for ongoing programs.
“Clients don’t have to commit to six months worth of a preprint,” Henkel said. “Variable items can change from month to month. Clients also have more flexibility to make changes closer to the deadline.”
One of the key advantages for clients is postage savings.`
“In the traditional offset print run, each version of a marketing campaign is printed on a separate roll with its own mail stream,” Henkel explained. “With variable inkjet, all versions can be combined into a single size format with one mail sort and production run. This results in a higher concentration of mail going to each postal distribution facility and deeper postage discounts.”
Johnson & Quin outfitted the Truepress Jet520ZZ with an inline perforation and pin-feed system from EMT. Finished rolls move to a Pitney Bowes high-speed FlowMaster for cutting, folding and inserting.
“Forms can be perforated inline, which is essential for direct mail pieces that have tear-off reply forms or coupons,” Arkema said. “Our goal is always to make our clients’ communications more efficient and more effective.”
Source: Inkjet’s Age