Arista Adopts Inkjet With Minimal Disruption


Working with a supplier that provides more than technology smoothed the company’s transition

“The days of black-and-white bills are gone.”

So said Harold Howard, operations manager at Arista Information Systems, Duluth, Ga., a leading high-volume transactional print provider serving clients in the Southeastern United States for more than 50 years. Today the firm’s customers—utilities, banks, retailers, and other businesses that run monthly bills and statements—have grander expectations. They want 24-hour turnarounds, full-page personalization capabilities, and high-quality, full-color printing that addresses branding considerations.

That means, Howard said, “Customers expect their logos to be printed in the exact right colors, which seems reasonable in today’s world.”

Yet Arista’s solutions were less than ideal. “The way we’ve been achieving full color—offset shells and digital (monochrome) imprinting—works, but it’s not the most efficient,” he said, in that it requires printing, storing and loading significant quantities of shells. It also doesn’t deliver full-page personalization. “We knew it was time to move to an on-demand solution,” he said—and that meant they needed to give inkjet a serious look. As Howard says, “High-speed inkjet technology is evolving in many exciting ways.” Was it time for Arista to participate in that evolution?

In conducting their inkjet investigation the company wasn’t just concerned about the hardware. They also wanted to understand if—and how—they could ease their possible migration to inkjet. How could they minimize disruption to their service level agreements? Should—or must—their workflow change? How could they get their operators trained and up to speed quickly and effectively? What other operational factors should they be taking into consideration?

Seeking More Than Inkjet Technology
The Arista team looked at products from four inkjet press manufacturers and eventually decided the time was right to adopt inkjet. But which solution was right for them? Two exploratory visits helped them decide, one to a print shop running Xerox[SUP]®[/SUP] Rialto[SUP]®[/SUP] 900 Inkjet Presses, and a second trip to the Xerox Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation in Webster, N.Y. where they ran successful tests of their applications.

Howard and the Arista team were impressed with the Rialto’s simple and intuitive user interface; its compact footprint, closer to a xerographic press than the typical behemoth inkjet press; and its scalability. That scalability came from the machine’s high speed, versatility and reliability, and it would permit Arista to not only grow volume, but also to expand the types of applications they run.

Still, offering the right technology was only part of the equation. The transition support that could ease their inkjet migration was also key. “Xerox offers more than the technology,” Howard said. “That’s why we went with the Xerox Rialto 900.”

Arista acquired four Xerox Rialto 900 Presses, two each for locations in Duluth, near Atlanta, and in the Winston-Salem, N.C. area, replacing six older high-speed laser printers.

Smooth Transition to Inkjet
Arista’s transition to full-color, inkjet printing has been smooth. The two compact Rialto presses fit easily into Arista’s Duluth shop. The machine’s roll-to-cut-sheet design and intuitive user interface make it simple to run and maintain. Indeed, operators were trained and able to confidently run the presses in less than 10 days. Another onboarding accelerator: while Arista moved from a PostScript to a PDF workflow, it was able to leverage its existing proprietary prepress workflow software, limiting disruption.

“Our team embraced the new technology, and we haven’t missed a beat in bringing it online,” says Howard. 

The new production process they’ve embraced is far more productive. Where previously Arista printed offset shells, then added variable information by printing on high-speed laser printers and sometimes also collating a separate promotional piece, the Rialtos produce a full-color statement with variable data and promotional messaging all in one pass. And the printed piece now matches the PDF for electronic presentment.

The new process also lowers paper costs by 25 percent. The savings come from standardizing on roll-fed paper rather than sourcing multiple cut-sheet stocks as they had done previously. The elimination of pre-printed sheets also has reduced storage requirements, freeing up floor space.

In addition, capacity is greater even though Arista now has two fewer presses. “That means our sales team can say ‘yes’ to full color more often,” Howard said. And the Rialtos have maintained better than 90 percent uptime, thanks to their intuitive operations and use of fewer moving parts than many presses.

A Business Transformed
Customers are also pleased. Print quality is “exceptional,” Howard said. “Most people don’t even notice a difference.” And when they do remark on the new inkjet statements, it’s usually to express appreciation for the added flexibility of variable printing in full color, he said.

“Our goal wasn’t necessarily to go inkjet,” Howard said. “It was to give our transactional customers the ability to print bills and statements in full-color, without relying on preprinted shells. The Xerox Rialto made that possible and affordable. The machine just runs.”

He summed up: “In a word, we’re elated. Our operators are excited about running the Rialtos. We’re past any concerns and challenges of migrating to inkjet, and eager to embrace what’s next.”


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