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FINISHING OPERATIONS: ADDRESSING PERSONALIZATION

Mar 1, 1999 12:00 AM


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Few printers can claim the longevity or rich tradition found at Intelligencer Printing (Lancaster, PA). The firm traces its roots to the 1794 Lancaster Journal--the newspaper carried a notice beneath its nameplate stating it would accept all types of printing work. Produced by Journal proprietors William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks, jobs consisted mostly of broadsides and public notices. In 1839, the Journal merged with the Lancaster Intelligencer & Weekly Advertiser, and the combined printing operation gradually migrated into doing more commercial work.

Today "Intell," as it is informally known, is a $45 million printer, servicing 500 customers throughout an eight-state area on the East Coast. The firm proudly notes that many of its 225 employees have been on board for more than 25 years, with many being the third and even fourth generation of their family to work for Intell.

Visitors to Lancaster who want to learn more about the history of printing and journalism are in for a treat. Located near Intelligencer's facility is the "Newseum," a self-guided history tour of the U.S. newspaper business. Exhibits include antique printing and typesetting equipment and a display illustrating the progression of journalism. Starting with the invention of the Egyptian alphabet, the display highlights everything from the appearance of the first American newspaper to the use of video display terminals and fiber optics. Antique equipment is something you won't find at Intell. Although the company is steeped in early Americana, the equipment at its 100,000-sq.-ft. facility is strictly state-of-the art.

The fully staffed 24-hour-a-day prepress operation facilitates fast turnarounds via ISDN, point-to-point proofing and various file transfer systems. Equipment includes two Scitex Dolev 400 imagesetters, one Dolev eight-page imagesetter as well as a Lotem platesetter. There's no shortage of press iron either--on the web side, Intell boasts a six-color Heidelberg M-100L, a 10-color Heidelberg M110-B web and a six-color Heidelberg M110 half web. Sheet-fed presses include a seven-color MAN Roland, a six-color MAN Roland, a five-color MAN/Miller perfecting press and two six-color MAN/Miller perfecting presses. Of course, no job is done until it's finished--the bindery area includes eight- and six-pocket McCain 200 stitcher/ trimmers, 26-inch and 24-inch MBO folders and a high-speed Longford card folder. Inkjetting is in-line on web presses or off-line on bindery equipment.

A recent addition, the Videojet SR50, is playing a key role in the printer's competitive strategy. "Imaging addresses and marketing messages on print media was introduced at Intell as a marketing concept whose time had come," explains Dean Baker, director of sales. "Our technology investment was leading edge--not bleeding edge--which is the operamine expense versus value and incorporate proven technology. We're constantly moving through new print dimensions and the imaging of our print products in-house fits in well with our business plan." "We saw a need in the marketplace and we went after it," adds Michael Stief, director of manufacturing. Once the decision was made to bring the imaging and addressing process in-house, Bill Spencer, Intell's bindery supervisor, teamed with Stief to research equipment options. Two consultants--postal regulation specialists--also were asked to review the major imaging systems. Both groups arrived at the same conclusion--the SR was the best choice for Intell. Stief was swayed by the SR's ability to deliver crisp graphics. The exec further notes that the system's solvent-based ink dries quickly--a critical requirement for high-speed operations.

The printer, based in Lancaster, PA, uses its direct imaging system for placing names, addresses, bar codes, lot numbers and tracking codes on direct mail pieces as well as some proprietary applications. Since Intell produces millions of custom-made products, flexibility is essential. Each print job is different and may involve a variety of presses, depending on the job specification. Sample runs of 25,000 to 50,000 are not uncommon. These jobs are first produced on a sheet-fed press and, following client approval, moved to a web press for hundred-thousand or million- piece production runs. Baker reports that the new system is equal to the task. "Regardless of where we need the inkjet system--on-, off- or in-line, for a 50,000 or 5 million piece run, the SR integrates with any of our presses."

Adds Baker, "At first we planned to move the SR from an off-line position to the folder, then the stitcher and finally the web. But, because of its performance, we went directly from off-line to the web with no difficulty."

Prior to the system's installation in June 1997, first-shift operator Steve Nemith, completed operator and technical training at VideoJet's headquarters in Wood Dale, IL. Nemith trained the second shift operator and the third shifter in the process of being trained. Stief is pleased that 24-hour operation is almost a reality. "We were really surprised," relates the exec. "We'd heard these systems weren't user-friendly, but that's not the case."

"Intell used to outsource over $300,000 a year in addressing mailing," reflects Baker. "With the SR, we expect to triple our business immediately and have excellent projections for growing our in-line applications.