The operations manager's mantra is two-fold. First, lower costs, and second, increase productivity. In the ideal world, we can accomplish both at the same time.

The answer is to work with your print streams. Below are just a few of the areas you can mine for gold from your print streams and save money while increasing the value of your customer communications and increase your productivity:
o Maximize postal discounts
o Utilize full color
o Take advantage of postal discounts for use of color
o Balance your print to maximize productivity
o Concatenate jobs for greater throughput
o Manage jobs for post-printing operations
o Reduce costly inventory

The key to effective use of your operations is workflow. This was echoed many times at the Inkjet Summit attended by many inkjet end-users and prospective inkjet users.

Workflow is sometimes confused or explained by the term ADF (Automated Document Factory). ADF has various meanings depending on who you talk to. I prefer to use the term AOM (Automated Output Management) when talking about workflow. After all, workflow starts at the data (or at least at the print file). The end-users I talked with all indicated that workflow is critical to maximizing inkjet technology.

Effective workflow isn't just a wish, it is a requirement for effective use of high-speed inkjet technology, whether you are looking at (or already have) monochrome or full color Inkjet Printers for your operation. With the speed of inkjet it is important to complete a thorough analysis of your workflow and job-size. By using workflow tools when you adjust your print to match the printer capacity, you gain production and quality attributes. Print job sizes may or may not have been balanced to match the roll size. Stopping and starting your printer for roll changes takes time and the cost is lost productivity. In the monochrome world, combining and merging like job-types eliminates costly production stops.
Your post-print operations might require smaller job sizes and in the past print and post-print operations have used the same job size.
Today, you can combine the jobs for greater printer productivity while having the ability to break the job to smaller subsets for post-print production, all while maintaining integrity and the required Mail Run Data Files (MRDF), or equivalent, and tracking and compliance.

Larger print runs (passed to your postal discounting software) can yield greater mail density and reduce your postal spend. Maintaining the proper mail.dat or mail.xml files can be maximized and yield these savings.

When you migrate to full color inkjet production, you can start to merge non-like jobs since you are now able to overlay the letterhead and logos of each document type on the fly, garnering even greater efficiency and cost savings. Don't forget the added bonus of the elimination of costly inventory and time to change paper stock between jobs. Additionally, you should consider the second ounce rides for free discount; any house holding you accomplish can add even more to the bottom line.

All of this sounds great and the savings can be substantial until you sit down with your IT department and realize the time and cost in redevelopment of legacy applications. All is not lost! You can have the ability to use your existing legacy applications and jobs and let them work with your print streams to accomplish all the above.

Middleware (or print-stream transformations and enhancements) can help you co-mingle jobs; manage the "logos" and "letterhead" for each job to create a large job consisting of previous smaller jobs. Basically, we are talking about implementing a plain paper factory or, in other words, creating jobs of the right size to take advantage of the speed and throughput of the inkjet printers.

The challenge is to keep track of each sub-job to make sure all the documents are accounted for. Again, this is where an Automated Output Management (AOM) is used to automate the processes with complete accountability. And let's not forget, in many organizations, there are disparate Print Data Languages (PDLs) created by a hybrid of legacy systems. By utilizing these tools, mailers are able to standardize on the PDL of their choice (AFP, IJPDS or PDF, for example) and take full advantage of their new hardware purchase.

The path to inkjet has a lot of upsides for companies that print High-Volume Transactional Output (HVTO) or, as many of us call it, customer communications. And with the proper tool set the process of implementing inkjet can be smooth, more economical and improve many business processes and results within your organization. It is easy to maximize your investment in Inkjet Technology with the right tools and the know-how to mine the gold.

David Day brings over 32 years of experience in the document management & mail industry. As an active member of Xplor for over 17 years, David frequently presents at local and global Xplor meetings. He has also been a guest speaker at various company user and industry groups. David, Product Marketing Manager at Crawford Technologies, is responsible for worldwide sales of their Automated Output Management solutions. He works with customers, prospects, sales and product development to identify customer requirements, evaluate solutions and make product recommendations.