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T-Systems DDM GmbH Launches Into Full Colour Document Printing with the Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System2/17/2009
Document management specialist hopes to expand its transaction printing operations and accelerate TransPromo business with Kodak's digital inkjet printing system
HUNKELER INNOVATIONDAYS, LUCERNE, February 17 -- At T-Systems DDM GmbH, everything revolves around document management. The document managers support their customers throughout the document process on the basis of an ultra-flexible electronic platform. Yet even though this document service provider is totally committed to IT and electronic media, high-volume printing of transaction documents remains an important business pillar. In December 2008, a Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System that prints with CMYK pigment inks went productive in Weingarten (southern Germany), the biggest of T-Systems DDM’s three locations. This Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System with two printing units is the first of its kind to be installed anywhere in Europe. In this wide configuration for 2-up duplex printing, the VL2000 is capable of printing two full colour pages or images onto the front and back of the web simultaneously.
Whereas the Weingarten site’s business is focused on mobile phone providers, the Dusseldorf plant mainly serves the banking and insurance sector while the third site, not far from Frankfurt am Main, targets clients in the financial and tourism industries. “We offer a comprehensive range of document management services,” explains Peter Dehm, who as Manager Customer Operations and Vendor Manager is in charge of technology at this 250-strong enterprise. “On the input side, we accept any data format our customers care to deliver. We then standardize the data, channel it through IT production and deliver the output on a variety of media – including printed. Digital document archiving is an important part of our business.” More than 600 million personalized A4 pages are printed and over 150 million communications enveloped and mailed every year at the Weingarten site alone – the majority either bills or statements of account. All in all, it’s a highly sensitive business, where absolute faithfulness to deadlines, complete and correct documents, and security at every stage of order processing are vital. Maximum availability is consequently a fundamental requirement of the printing systems.
Inkjet printing – an attractive alternative
In the past, the lion's share of the print volume was run through continuous feed LED toner systems – black-and-white models, a few of which are configured for printing an additional highlight colour. Continuous feed printing in full-colour CMYK is just as much a novelty at T-Systems DDM as the inkjet technology. “We've been toying with the idea of colour printing and comparing various printing technologies for more than ten years now,” says Peter Dehm. “However, either the quality proved to be an insurmountable hurdle or the price – and in many cases both. Last year, we decided to improve our market position with new value added solutions, so we found ourselves discussing the colour issue again.”
drupa 2008 provided an ideal opportunity to sound out the latest state of the art in digital printing. What Peter Dehm saw there dispelled all his former reservations about inkjet printing. “Matching the ink to the paper used to be a tricky problem, as did reconciling print quality and resolution with an acceptable production speed. All that is now a thing of the past.” This fundamental debate on the pros and cons of colour printing technology was followed by an analysis of the costs and eventually printing trials on systems from several manufacturers. “The bottom line of the story is that we are wholly satisfied with the Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System's blend of low outlay and high performance and quality,” Dehm continues. “The system is also ideal for black-and-white printing from both a commercial and a quality perspective. Kodak’s inkjet technology even beat laser printing in a benchmark test. Hatching and gray levels invariably pose a few problems for the laser systems, leading to mottled results. These elements turn out better with inkjet, so that we can transfer black-and-white volumes to the VL2000 Printing System while gradually increasing the share of colour.”
Colour offers prospects for growth
Yet what will be the drivers of this growth in colour business? T-Systems DDM has some very clear ideas on the subject: in view of the fact that today clients attach increasing importance to marketing aspects, colour can be employed on bills and other documents as an image enhancer and an instrument for customer retention. In February 2009, a pilot project to produce a high monthly volume of end customer bills in full colour on the Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System will be launched in collaboration with a longstanding client. In addition to the company logo and the special brand colour, a decisive advertising impact will be ensured by colour images.
On top of this, the service provider offers its customers colour TransPromo printing, in other words the chance to integrate cross and up-selling ads in their bills and assorted transaction documents. And Peter Dehm has identified further colour potential where the VL2000 Printing System can replace offset forms: “There is a recognizable trend toward brand diversification in mobile communications, for instance. As a result, large preprint runs are being broken down into several smaller lots. If we can succeed in simply printing the various logos and additional colour elements on white paper at the same time without any increase in overall costs compared to preprint, we will enjoy a huge advantage.” Dehm's theory is that personalization and the production and processing of mass mailings are things the company has excelled at for a long time. Colour printing is now a further item in its portfolio. Direct marketing services for medium-sized companies in the local region will open up attractive business prospects.
An established part of the workflow
The Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System has replaced two older black-and-white toner printing systems at T-Systems DDM. Like the other continuous feed printing solutions, it produces from roll to roll because the entire finishing technology is designed for offline roll processing. The inkjet colour printing system connected seamlessly to the existing digital workflow. The Kodak Versamark CS300 System Controller, which controls the printing system, accepts press-run data in AFP format. Owing to the order make-up, most of the paper used on the VL2000 is normal quality with a surface weight of 80 g/m2.
Peter Dehm’s prediction is that in 2009 full colour production will still only account for a modest share of total business. He estimates that approximately 20 percent of all pages produced on the Kodak Versamark VL2000 Printing System will be four colour and the remainder black and white. For next year a major breakthrough is expected: “Out of a planning volume of more than 150 million pages, we are reckoning on 60 percent full colour.”
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About T-Systems DDM GmbH
T-Systems DDM GmbH is a leading European provider of document management services. The company has been a successful market player for more than 15 years, serving a broad spectrum of international customers from a variety of industries and demonstrating its considerable transformation expertise in a series of takeover projects. Existing document processes have been migrated in minimal time, then efficiently executed and finely optimized. Its international activities are focused in the UK and the Benelux countries. As recently as 2008, T-Systems DDM acquired the document processes, personnel, and real estate of a major British insurance group.
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