Our readers may remember that HP Indigo closed its largest deal ever with photo specialty printer Shutterfly. After an aggressive installation at three sites over the summer, Shutterfly concluded a successful peak season and has now come back for more.

I had the opportunity to speak with COO Dwayne Black, who told me that the company has now standardized on HP Indigo presses for production of its photo speciality items. With this deal, Shutterfly now has even more HP Indigo 12000s across its three plants, displacing competitive digital presses. “This was a relatively easy internal sell when I explained that these presses run twice as fast as the ones being replaced and give us better quality,” Black says. “This gives us more efficiency, labor savings, scrap reduction – all kinds of benefits.”

The decision last year to acquire the first phase of HP Indigo 12000s was based on Shutterfly’s long-term relationship with HP and an appreciation of the roadmap HP has laid out to carry the product line into the future. “The first units demonstrated that moving to a full fleet of 12000s was the next logical step,” Black explains. “We were on the receiving end of exceptional support as well. In a business like ours, you always worry about putting a lot of eggs in one basket with one supplier, but HP really proved itself over this last season when we installed the first phase of units. The service, the press dependability, the project team – everyone came through. It was one of the best executions I have ever seen.”

Black adds, “For us, what it came down to is that HP is planning for the future and has a deep roadmap that is far superior to anyone else out there. We are looking at this from a long-term partnership perspective, trying to set up our platform so we are not continually switching out equipment, and therefore reducing the disruption that comes along with that. And we need a partner that is focused not just on print but the entire workflow and robust partnerships with finishing companies. Quite honestly, anyone can print, but getting the work through efficiently and making sure there are finishing solutions for all of their presses is where HP shines.”

Black reports that in addition to the fleet of HP Indigo 12000s, the company has a wide range of other HP Indigo models, both roll-fed and sheetfed. Its Shutterfly Business Services operation, primarily serving the healthcare industry with transactional printing, uses two HP PageWide T410 production inkjet presses.

You may also recall that WhatTheyThink visited Shutterfly in Minneapolis last November, where we saw the operation in action mid-peak, including several HP Indigo 12000s. At the time, the company was also testing two Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM1 UV inkjet sheet-fed presses for undisclosed special applications. In our most recent call, Black explained that these presses are being used for some specialty (niche) products where the sheet size has an advantage. “They do solve for a niche project and  they deliver some of the best inkjet quality out there,” he says.

Shutterfly is also in the final stages of moving from traditional to digital foil and looking at other digital embellishment techniques. “You can’t beat the quality of analog foil,” Black commented. “But digital gives us – and our customers – much more flexibility. They can put foil anywhere on the product without the need to make plates, which is required for analog foil. Plus, there is less labor required, less scrap, and so it is more cost effective and efficient overall.”

On our November visit, we also were able to observe the CMC Machinery CartonWrap in action. “We initially used it for books,” Black explains, “but we are now adding new products. In my opinion, it is a unique way to get a perfectly fitted package for any type of product.” Shutterfly was the first multi-site multi-device installation of the CartonWrap, and there is at least one at each of the company’s three sites.