As viable candidates for production inkjet printing technology go, one would be hard-pressed to find a firm with a greater need than Pinnacle Data Systems of Suwanee, Ga. This poster child status has been replaced by a solution that provided relief to numerous pain points. The company debuted in 1999 as an accounting software company that marketed and customized ERP solutions. Pinnacle added print-and-mail document output services two years later, essentially as an add-on service for its existing software client base.
Now, the firm exclusively focuses on print and electronic document output and hosting services, backed by facilities in Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala., as well as suburban Atlanta, along with a satellite in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which specializes in software development and electronic products. Pinnacle Data Systems employs 240 workers across its network. The company specializes in transactional mail services — the printing and mailing of business-critical communications — as well as electronic presentment and payment, document hosting/archiving, one-to-one marketing communications (transpromo) and client interface development (custom portals).
While Pinnacle Data Systems was not suffering from decades-old inefficiencies, the firm nonetheless was in need of a solution to satisfy the evolving needs of its client base. Robert Reddinger, company president and CEO, identified several variables that nudged Pinnacle toward high-speed production inkjet:
- Its limited adoption of color output due to the high operating costs of toner-based printers. Nothing but extremely high-value documents — high net worth brokerage statements, for example — could justify the more expensive running costs required for toner color output.
- Inconsistencies between printed and electronic presentation in regards to brand marketing was another issue. “Clients would create static color inserts to go along with the billing documents and would selectively insert them — providing limited, if any, ability to offer personalized, targeted messages,” Reddinger says. “This was compounded by their ability to offer full-color messaging online, yet they were limited to monochrome (or highlight color) print-based offerings.”
- Pinnacle Data Systems was often saddled with a large number of SKUs for preprinted client form shells, which also presented warehousing, logistical and obsolescence issues. An example of this was being able to offer distributed print in real time across Pinnacle’s three U.S. sites. In the past, it would require ordering materials and getting the supply chain in place for each site before a job could process.
“Prior to adopting inkjet, we also had a large fleet of highlight color printing systems, which were both expensive to run and challenging to keep operational ... highlight color was always a difficult technology from a maintenance/uptime perspective,” Reddinger notes.
Facing these issues, Reddinger and his executive team set out to find a solution, exploring both toner and inkjet digital printing alternatives. In the end, the company opted to install Océ JetStream continuous-feed color inkjet presses, in part, because of Canon Solutions America’s tight integration with Pinnacle Data Systems’ workflow software (PRISMA and SEFAS Innovation).
The move to production inkjet has categorically paid dividends. Color usage is no longer reserved for high-end output products. The color/monochrome inconsistency between electronic and printed content went by the wayside. And, as for the practice of warehousing preprinted shells, its current “white paper factory” structure enables the redirecting of a job to another facility through Pinnacle’s workflow management system.
Pinnacle’s initial transition into color inkjet printing did require a learning curve. “The implementation of our first inkjet press was not without its share of growing pains,” Reddinger explains. “Everything we knew about color was from the sheetfed world — we had several toner-based color devices at the time — which did not translate into good color knowledge for inkjet. Additionally, our first installation was a roll-to-sheet configuration. Since we were relatively early into sheetfed inkjet, the finishing process also proved to be quite challenging during the early days of the installation.”
The workflow software integration was fairly straightforward, as Pinnacle was already using Océ’s PRISMA. The tricky part, Reddinger recalls, was getting the workflow timing honed in to prevent the machine from stopping, which led to startup waste as the machine cycled up.
“The biggest challenges we faced on the programming side revolved around color management and color matching,” he says. “Getting a customer to accept an inkjet version of their logo could require, and can still consist of, multiple iterations to get to client acceptance.”
The internal efficiencies gained from acquiring the JetStream inkjet presses cannot be underscored enough, however. Pinnacle Data Systems went from 500 SKUs of client-specific forms to roughly 30 specialized applications. This is most remarkable considering that previously, the company had been tying up significant amounts of its working capital in the preprinted forms. “We were essentially stacking cash up on our warehouse shelves in the form of client stock,” Reddinger says, wryly.
A second inkjet revolution is about to take place at Pinnacle Data Systems. The company recently installed its first Océ VarioPrint i300 sheetfed inkjet press, and Reddinger calls its acquisition “by far, the smoothest technology upgrade we have ever done.” Pinnacle still operates six toner-based, sheetfed color devices through- out its network, and the goal is to transition all of that work to inkjet using the VarioPrint i300, along with treated inkjet stock to convert the remainder of the color toner-based work.
“This will produce increased margins for Pinnacle Data Systems and lower costs for our clients, so everyone will benefit from the VarioPrint i300 platform,” he concludes.
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Sheri Jammallo is the Corporate Enterprise Marketing Manager at Canon Solutions America; with a keen focus on the Transactional, Direct Mail and Corporate In-Plant print production space. She brings with her a wealth of industry knowledge that enables her to lead field relevant go-to-market production print strategies and programs for Canon Solutions America that bring value-add to their production print customers and overall print industry. Previous to Canon Solutions America, Sheri spent 14 years in several Sales Leadership roles at Xerox.