by Noel Ward, Executive Editor of OnDemandJournal.com and Managing Editor of trade show coverage for WhatTheyThink.com October 3, 2003 -- There's a place for offset printing and a place for digital printing. And sometimes the place is the same, or at least the document can be. That's the idea at Sandy Alexander in Clifton, New Jersey. In three years the big commercial printer has seen personalization on printed documents zoom from about 10 percent of all documents to about 35 percent. “This is capitalizing on the growing trend for personalized mailing and promotional printing,” relates Roy Grossman, President and CEO. “And the volume would have increased more if we had more capacity.” Sandy Alexander has been doing personalization of high-volume direct mail documents and marketing collateral materials at both its New Jersey headquarters and at its facility in Florida. The shell document is printed on large 6- and 8- color, sheet-fed offset presses with extensive personalization added using inline inkjet printers from Scitex Digital Printing. The Dijit 6240 printers use a 4-inch print head to add not just name and address but extensive data-driven personalized copy for customers and prospects in a broad number of industries. Grossman says Sandy Alexander has added more Dijit 6240 print heads to increase throughput from 500 feet per minute to 1000 fpm. The new equipment duplicates what they have at present, effectively doubling capacity, but also provides redundancy to ensure they can meet or beat every deadline. Kazem Samandari, Senior Vice President for Global Marketing at Scitex Digital Printing says the growth in personalization at Sandy Alexander confirms what SDP is seeing at other customers using the Dijit narrow format inkjet printers. “Personalization is growing at 15–25%,” says Samandari. “Using digital color printing is becoming more attractive for some run lengths, but black-only personalization, especially for high-volume jobs, is very important and represents a big opportunity for traditional printers.” “Personalization makes the document a lot more impactful,” says Grossman. “It is much more effective than email, and being able to print in high-volume, on full-color documents, at high speeds lets us use direct mail head-to-head against e-mail using a much richer media with more personalization.” Inside FreeFlow FreeFlow, Xerox's workflow initiative launched at the On Demand show in the spring is steadily evolving and the latest moves were rolled out here in Chicago. Those steps were noted in Sunday's coverage, and I caught up with Mike Harvey, Vice President for Workflow Marketing and Mike Kucharsky, Vice President of the Workflow Business Team, to get some extra insights into how FreeFlow is fitting together. “The entire team is focused on customer requirements,” says Kucharsky. “Our field people gather information on customer needs that are often based on specific applications, or around using a particular FreeFlow component. We take those requirements, determine the engineering needed, and how it will fit into our offerings. It is essential to develop a visceral understanding of customer requirements so we can develop and deploy solutions against those needs.” “We also have to understand the customer's business objectives,” adds Harvey. “By paying attention to the big picture for a customer's entire business, workflow becomes an enabler and we can make sure each customer has the right combination of FreeFlow offerings to improve their business.” This is not just limited to the printing process. FreeFlow is intended to support documents from creation through production and encompass production scheduling and reporting to print management systems.