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John Roberts Company Case Study

Tell me about John Roberts Company

John Roberts has been a privately-held company for over 60 years, employing approximately 300 employees. I would describe John Roberts as one of the Premier award winning Printers out there. Privately held, it's a family business on the leading edge of technology and growth in the printing industry. When it comes to employee satisfaction and employee retention, we are a flagship organization for printers / mail houses across the country. Originally John Roberts was a 'print, cut, fold, ship' type of Printer and has evolved into a leader within the printing and mailing industry. Mailing was an offshoot that was added to the business about 10 years ago due to customer demand. While the core of John Roberts is still Printing and Bindery, we have successfully integrated Mailing, Cross Media and Fulfillment to the wide array of services we provide.

What types of customers does John Robert Company have?

We have a vast range of customers from a wide variety of industries…Retail, fashion, health service providers, insurance, banking, marketing agencies, automobile, airlines, colleges, restaurants, government and small businesses.

Tell me about Mailing and the role of ink jet printers at John Roberts Company.

We had customers asking for mailing services, so we added a couple of Videojet ink jet printers. We were a complete Videojet house with a Wide-Array system, a PrintPro, and two BX 6600 systems, producing around 60-70 million pieces a year.

I joined John Roberts about 2 ½ years ago to improve and further the mailing department. I have been given the opportunity to rebuild and expand an operation that was previously just addressing mail, into a very complex mailing department. The department builds to the job due to the complexity of what we are now able to offer to our customers. Examples include large format processing, High Resolution UV inkjet, camera matching, read & print and 100% mail verification. We have rolled out this technology throughout our facility. Mailing and Bindery have become very cohesive departments, which helps us to

Domino Enters the Picture.

What was the NEED to implement new digital printing systems?

We analyzed our costs in our production processes with our current inkjet systems. Our downtime was considerably high. I didn't know how we could be running a mailing operation when systems were down two to three hours each per shift. This definitely was not cost effective, especially when we were paying $5600/month in service contracts to keep the inkjet equipment running. We looked internally for a solution; was it a training issue, a process problem, or an equipment/maintenance issue? After studying this for about 2 to 3 months we were able to come to the conclusion that we had to change our inkjet technology to be competitive in today's market.

What was the SOLUTION?

I purchased two Domino Bitjet systems; it was a completely new technology for John Roberts compared to our past inkjet systems…a brand new integrative platform. So the next phase included saving $5600/month, almost $70,000/year. With those savings we bought another two Domino Bitjet units with a GT controller. This gave us the opportunity to produce four up / four 2" print heads with variable information. This gave us the improved efficiencies I was looking for, moving us in to an inline production process.

What was the transition like?

Well, truth be told, initially there was a lot of concern with switching to a different operating platform. Understandably so, some people said, "ink jet systems will not stay up and running…it's just going to cause more problems, more waste, the systems are up and down, etc." But over a short period of time perspectives changed. We sent our operators and technicians, under Gary's recommendation (Gary Peterson, Domino Digital Print Account Manager) for training. Gary said, "We want you to know how to fix your equipment, how to be self-sufficient within the organization." My response was, "Absolutely!" We sent six employees from mailing and bindery for training on the Bitjets, and the GT Controller. We are now nearly 100% self-reliant.

How has that training and the Domino Bitjet systems affected your business?

The Mailing department's overall costs dramatically diminished when it comes to service upkeep and not having to pay for maintenance through an extended service contract. Repair bills have dramatically decreased. Uptime has dramatically increased… on the Domino print-heads we will run, at times, for a week straight without even touching a print head on the Bitjets. The end result is that the employees,

Domino K600i

Now, let's switch gears and tell me about the need for the Domino K600i digital print system.

We have one UV system from a competitor of Domino as part of the old technology. That system has three 2" print heads which gave us some challenges with speed and a limited 2" print width. I decided to look for a new solution that would increase our line speeds and print width; as a solution we purchased a Domino K600i.

How has the Domino K600i performed?

The K600i runs more cost effectively than our Wide Array. The K600i that we have has a 4.25" head and has tripled my speed compared to running our prior UV inkjet system. This is possible due to the wider format with the IMB bar code and addressing. With the Domino K600i, we are now receiving 'A grades' on the LVS scanning system. In comparison, we were receiving D's and F's using the previous ink jet system. By switching to Domino we were able to open up a whole new market at a cost effective rate for our customers

You mentioned that using the Domino K600i has opened up new markets. Please describe

We are ink jetting key fobs, customer appreciation cards, etc. that we could not previously produce.

How frequently are you running the Domino K600i?

Our K600i runs approximately 20 hours per day on average

How satisfied have you been with the Domino K600i?

Well, let me put it this way… For every customer of yours that I have talked to about the K600i, I have sold a piece of equipment for Domino and we may be purchasing another one down the road. What I found really interesting is that we were one of the first companies in the area to bring all of this new technology in that Domino offered us. Now we have a lot of our competitors knocking on our door just to get a look at our operations.

Michael Keene, our President, is part of a board called 'The Round Table' with a number of other printing companies. The purpose of this group is to share information as well as technological and process advancements. This board, from all across the U.S., is calling us now asking what we are doing, how are we doing it, why are we switching to Domino, what benefits have we seen, inquiring about the market

Have you seen an increase in productivity, in terms of "make ready" time, or more jobs produced in a given time, or decreased maintenance required?

Our make-ready time has increased somewhat; but for us that has been a very good thing. The jobs have become more complex due to the capabilities that we have with the Domino systems. Even though our make-ready time increased, we are able to drive more profit to the bottom line. We are being awarded more jobs that we did not have the capabilities to produce before because we did not have the print technology to get us there. It was a challenging road in the beginning. Anytime you change something, it's always a challenge. But now with this technology, because of the uptime difference, it solved the issue. It's all about the uptime.

Have you seen an increase in sales revenue by using the Domino Bitjets and K600i?

Absolutely, we have seen a large amount of growth in the demand for this new technology. Many of our top customers have toured our facility since our recent implementation of the K600i and they are quite impressed.

The Bitjets are nice because they are versatile enough to roll out into our Web department. This is going to be part of the next phase of our expansion.

Describe some of the applications that are being run with the Domino Bitjet and K600i.

Using the Bitjet, we are printing on plastic cards, full UV flood, and standard addressing 24/7. We have 6 Bitjets, 3 GT controllers and 2 camera systems that run constantly. Our Bindery department has not only embraced this new technology they have helped improve our inline process. Incorporating their ideas by moving to an inline process we've had to expand their area to meet new customer demands through utilizing the Domino GT controller capabilities.

The K600i has better resolution than Domino's competitors, better drop size control that can be manipulated, and a wider range of substrates that can run. There must be something with the fluids because it seems more adaptable on certain substrates than Domino's competitors. It is extremely precise and pinpoint accurate when it comes to the DPI and being able to manipulate the drop sizes. The K600i really gives us a lot more variables that we can offer to our customers in comparison to

Our previous system was comprised of 2" print heads so we were limited in the bar codes that we could print. When we received the K600i, we performed some testing and moved the lamps closer. There was a noticeable difference. We are getting straight "A" grades on the bar code. It doesn't matter if we are running 200fpm or running 28,000 pieces per hour, we're pulling "A" grades with minimum make-ready times. Before, there would have to be such a balance between DPI, speed and curing time because the bar code would wet out. By simply moving the lamps forward, there is nothing else touching it right now….we generate "A" grade bar codes at greater speeds.

How did you find out about Domino?

I have been in the direct mail industry for 20+ years in engineering, safety and technician roles. A few years back, I was in sales with a different company. My job was to sell Domino's competitors' services, repairs, and refurbished printers. Then we partnered with Domino and I sold the Domino product line for one year. So I know a lot about both brands and their product offerings.

What do you foresee moving forward? Do you plan to implement any additional digital print systems in the future?

We are currently running two separate platforms, but I would like to become exclusive to Domino at John Roberts. I would like to add two additional Bitjets and a K600i with a wider printhead. Once done, I believe that we will be fully integrated with Domino equipment.

In closing I would like to say that I'm very proud to be a small part in an organization that has the vision to foresee our customer's needs. This is proven on a daily basis as Management and the production staff work to improve processes and always looking for ways to solve any issues that may arise. I thank my staff and the Bindery Department for making mailing within John Roberts the success that it is today and going forward.