In-Plant Graphics May 2016 : Page 16
PHOTOS BY TERI ALVERSON, SUGARINK DESIGN Urban Fulﬁ llment Services: The management team at Urban Fulfi llment stands between the in-plant’s two Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 GP inkjet presses (from left): Daroah Powell, print fulfi llment operations manager; Stephanie Higgins, VP business solutions; Brett Birky, senior VP operations; and Steve Wilson, senior VP business development. Bringing the Printing Home Luis Alvarez, lead inserter operator, on the Mailing Systems intelligent inserting line. By Patrick Henry sw To better control the security and turnaround time of its documents, Urban Lending Solutions bought two production inkjet presses and started a new in-plant. MORTGAGE IS a document, and as a document, it has a life cycle: a time frame in which its contents can be modiﬁ ed as the relationship between the lender and the borrower changes. Those modiﬁ cations mean more documents must be created and the updates redistrib-uted. Lending institutions originate millions of mortgages every year, and millions more are reﬁ nanced. For the mort-gage industry, it’s a vast and data-intensive exercise in record-keeping that generates correspondingly vast quanti-ties of printed matter. Helping mortgage providers keep their document life cycles under control is one of the main reasons that Urban A 16 I N -P LANT G RAPHICS tXXX�f;*O1MBOU(SBQIJDT�f;DPNt MAY 2016
Urban Fulfillment Services: Bringing the Printing Home
To better control the security and turnaround time of its documents, Urban Lending Solutions bought two production inkjet presses and started a new in-plant.
A MORTGAGE IS a document, and as a document, it has a life cycle: a time frame in which its contents can be modified as the relationship between the lender and the borrower changes. Those modifications mean more documents must be created and the updates redistributed.
Lending institutions originate millions of mortgages every year, and millions more are refinanced. For the mortgage industry, it’s a vast and data-intensive exercise in record-keeping that generates correspondingly vast quantities of printed matter.
Helping mortgage providers keep their document life cycles under control is one of the main reasons that Urban Lending Solutions exists. As a provider of title and settlement services, the Denver-based company used to outsource its printing and distribution requirements. That all changed about a year and a half ago when Urban Lending Solutions added two Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 GP continuous- feed color inkjet presses and started printing inhouse. The company created a secure, automated production center where it can achieve the high levels of efficiency and oversight its customers insist upon.
Brett Birky and his team of 15 document specialists run the in-plant from a 25,000-sq.-ft. facility near Denver International Airport. Birky is senior vice president of operations for Urban Fulfillment Services LLC, the Urban Lending Solutions business unit charged with printing and shipping everything that banks need to keep their mortgage relationships productive and securely administered.
Hard Copy Still Vital
Founded in 2002, minority-owned Urban Lending Solutions has built business process outsourcing for mortgage lenders into a $100 million enterprise. Birky explains that the print production workflow is about making sure the banks can send their borrowers hard copy to certify whatever changes of status may occur during the course of a mortgage relationship.
This often begins with what Birky calls “consumer inbound document processing”: scanning paper forms and archiving the resulting images and data. The stored information then can be used to populate templated documents that are automatically created and sent in response to events that trigger communications with borrowers: for instance, a missed mortgage payment deadline.
In the same way, a refinancing agreement or a change of payment terms would give birth to a paper trail of its own. Birky says that the recession and the housing-market crisis that followed it led to a great deal of activity in the form of loan mitigation aimed at keeping mortgage borrowers out of default — all of it increasing the volume of paperwork that Urban Fulfillment Services was called upon to print and ship for its customers.
For about five years, the company jobbed out this work to a document services provider in the Denver area. But eventually, says Birky, Urban Fulfillment Services realized that the only way it could assure its customers of the security and the uninterrupted throughput they required was to do it through a captive printing operation.
The goal, says Birky, was to build the in-plant on a “foundation of security” that the outsourcing arrangement was unable to guarantee. Mortgage documents are full of confidential information that is subject to strict rules of privacy protection. The thought of placing this non-public content into the hands of an unaudited third-party service provider had become a point of concern for some customers. Allaying that concern was “a huge component” of the decision to set up the in-plant, Birky says.
Another was the desire to stay on top of the workload. Everything done for customers is governed by service level agreements (SLAs) that dictate not only how much the in-plant has to produce, but when the work has to be turned around. Birky and his team typically get no more than 24 hours to process, print and ship whatever volumes of data they receive each day from the banks. This is complicated by the fact that the day-to-day workload can be hard to predict. Birky says that the flexibility of captive production is the key to keeping it manageable.
The in-plant has been doing this with steadily increasing efficiency since it first came online in January of 2015. Working 24/7, the shop prepares, prints, inserts and ships mortgage-related transactional documents in sets consisting of flat 8.5x11" sheets or sheets folded to 6x9". A set of documents can contain two to 80 sheets. All of the printing is digital, and all of it contains variable content.
The output is formidable: 200,000 to 400,000 document sets per month containing an average monthly total of two to four million pages. Turning them out are a pair of Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 GP continuous-feed color inkjet presses with in-line finishing systems from Hunkeler. Three intelligent mailing systems — two in a 10x13" format and one for 6x9" material — use in-line 2D barcode readers and other closed-loop technologies for precision inserting. The custom-built inserters use Mailcrafter frames and were engineered and rebuilt by IM Connect in Australia and designed, installed and serviced by Mailing Systems in Denver.
The in-plant utilizes a set of integrated tools from Sefas that allow it to address workflow requirements throughout the design and production process. Sefas Open Print Producer customer communication management software acts as a command center for automated document factory operation and enables the in-plant to define and manage steps in the print production workflow. Sefas Open Print Designer supports document composition and post-composition.
The in-plant is set up as a “hardened” facility that minimizes the risk of interrupted production with its own diesel generator and a 48-hour fuel supply to power a backup electrical system. Birky notes that backup is the reason why there are two load-balanced InfoPrint 5000s at work when one would have been enough to handle the monthly volume. The second machine provides redundancy, and its spare capacity will be ready to use when the volume goes up — as Birky fully expects it to do.
Secure, Transparent Workflow
He describes the in-plant as a scalable production environment in which the workflow is secure, transparent and auditable from beginning to end. That’s highly advantageous, because the facility is subject to frequent inspections by customers and must undergo periodic onsite compliance audits.
As a business unit, the in-plant is entirely separate and distinct from the parent company’s enterprise fleet printing resources, and all print orders for customers must be sent to it. The SLAs, says Birky, “preclude us from doing it any other way.”
Enhanced security and process optimization have been the main benefits of insourcing for Urban Fulfillment Services. As a bonus, operating costs are also under tighter control. Birky says that because captive printing is more automated and seamless than coordinating production with an outside provider, “our ability to contain costs has been greatly enhanced.”
Although a small shop running 24/7 to print two to four million pages per month might appear to have reached the limit of its productivity, Birky says that the in-plant is ready to tackle more work.
Urban Lending Solutions has its eye on the health care, insurance, utilities and government sectors as potential customers for its outsourcing services, and Birky says the parent company will move aggressively in the direction of soliciting print orders from them. This might include marketing materials and transpromotional documents — types of work that the in-plant doesn’t currently produce but could if requested.
On Birky’s technical wish list are expanded inserting capabilities, MICR printing add-ons for the InfoPrint 5000s, dynamic perforating, and, if a demand for transpromo and marketing-related documents materializes, cut-sheet inkjet equipment. But for now, he’s concentrating on getting everything he can from the existing resources so that customers can be sure they are getting everything they expect from Urban Fulfillment Services.
“You can’t say no to an SLA,” Birky says.
High Praise for High-Output Inkjet
The Urban Fulfillment Services in-plant does 100% of its printing on two Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 GP continuous-feed inkjet presses. The InfoPrint 5000 GP platform prints rolls of paper from 6.4" to 20.4" wide at top speeds of 210 or 420 feet per minute in full color simplex, depending on the model. Its 720x720-dpi resolution can be boosted to an effective 1,440 dpi with stochastic screening and dynamic variable drop sizing. Although the predominant color of the in-plant's output is black, every document is a four-color job. All contain variable content.
Birky says that Urban Fulfillment Services chose the InfoPrint 5000 GP primarily because of its reputation for reliability and cost efficiency. He cites Ricoh's "thought leadership in inkjet" as well as its record as a press supplier to market segments similar to the one that Urban Fulfillment Services operates in.
Birky, who gave several presentations about his operation at the recent Inkjet Summit, believes that continuous-feed production inkjet has more than demonstrated its merits as a solution for the kinds of printing that Urban Fulfillment Services' in-plant cares about. He says that although the process doesn't have as long a track record as toner-based systems, it's become a mature technology in its own right for shops that need high throughput, media handling versatility and consistent print quality.