Digital Change requested


Posted: 18 Oct 2005 01:44 pm


Hi Hal, I have a suggestion and would like to know if it would be practical or not. We do A LOT of short run full color on Canon CLC's and would like to see a change in the pricing if I could.

We run a ton of mailers that are printed 4/k and I have found that pricing them on MF is not quite working. I have two mailer products, one is 4/4 and one is 4/k set in the digital heading. When I run MF to price the two out they are almost the same price.

My solution would be to make the digital press have two separate prices, one for full color and one for just K-Black. The reason for this is that my maintenance prices for the two are different.

Also, I ran into another pickle. I was pricing a mailer on a 12x18, 100lb gloss cover sheet, but MF would not let me select that sheet for the product, it would only let me select a 100lb uncoated and an 80lb coated sheet. Is there something I'm missing?
. . . . . Craig Hofer
Loris Printing  Joined: 05 May 2005  Posts: 79  Location: Sandusky, Ohio


Hi Craig,

Let me start with the pickle: The reason Morning Flight won't let you pick anything heavier than 80 lb Cover is because most digital press and copier manufacturers recommend you don't pick it either. For their CLC 1180, Canon suggests a maximum weight of 110 lb Index (75 lb Cover). The CLC 4000 extends that to 140 lb Index (93 lb Cover, if there were such a thing).

Actually, MF removes all weight limits when you select Multi-Price Vendor Paper with the Shift-F3 custom entry window. Why the seeming inconsistency between what you can pick from a list and what you can enter into a custom window? When we designed Morning Flight, our aim was to simplify basic, everyday estimating to the point where anyone in the office could handle it. That would free the resident expert to deal with the hard stuff.

I know you've visited the Unitac web site (, so you're familiar with our Electric Price List and the "Annual Printing for Peanuts Sale." The Unitac print shop has been mailing a stripped-down, pick-list-only version of Morning Flight to its customers for years. That's where the distinction between pick-lists and custom entry windows first came into clear view: Windows for seasoned estimators, pick-lists for everyone else.

Getting back to paper, the pick-list weight limits aren't hardwired into the program, they're stored in a file (WRNFile.TPS, located in the C:\ProgramFiles\PrintFire\MorningFlight directory by default). Every value in that file will someday be accessible to MF users with a special utility code-named the "Wrench." Since that utility is still under development, let me know what limits you think are appropriate for digital and copier paper weights and I'll post a modified WRNFile.TPS on our web site. Replacing that file will not affect any data you have already entered. It's a small file, only 11 KB.

If you don't mind, I'll get to the digital pricing question in a separate post. When you print the 4/1 digital mailers, I'm assuming you're duplexing them, not running them twice through on the same CLC. Because of the maintenance/wear issue, I would have thought it would be cheaper to use a high speed B&W copier to print the back. Or does that depend on the length of the run?

Thanks for your suggestion, Craig. Definitely worth looking into.
. . . . .  Hal Heindel


Wow, did I just open a can of worms for you? Our CLC 4000 will run 100lb coated cover very well as will our ImageRunner C3200.

"The reason Morning Flight won't let you pick anything heavier than 80 lb Cover is because most digital press and copier manufacturers recommend you don't pick it either."

The strange thing about that comment is that MF will let me select Hammermill 100lb Color Copy Cover (uncoated) but not StoraEnso Futura 100lb Coated.

As to running 4/1 on a CLC: We manually duplex the sheet due to both speed and registration. It is faster to manually duplex and the sheet registers better front to back. Also I have one maintenance fee of .075 for color and the black is .01. If someone sends a file with the back of the card an RGB black then I can simply tell the driver to to use K-Black, not CMYK when manualy duplexed. Unfortunately, you can't run the front on a CLC and the back on an ImageRunner B/W or visa-versa due to the difference in fuser temperature, and the CLC uses a wet fuser as well, so it tends to screw the whole thing up.

As far as paper weight I would say 100lb cover would be a max. Even though most manufactures say 140lb index is a max, most people (like me) will run whatever the machine will run and the customer wants, after all that's why I have a maintenance contract.

Thanks for all your effort in this program, I really appreciate it!
. . . . . Craig Hofer


Not a can of worms, Craig, but a lot of good, from-the-trenches digital background. Just the kind of stuff we're looking for. Again, I'll deal with the digital issue in a separate topic. About the paper weight limit:

"MF will let me select Hammermill 100lb Color Copy Cover (uncoated) but not StoraEnso Futura 100lb Coated."

That's something I couldn't duplicate. The weight filter in the pick-list doesn't distinguish between coated and uncoated cover, and shouldn't. Is there any possibility that the Hammermill 100 lb Color Copy Cover you mentioned was added as Book/Text instead of Cover? Or maybe added in the Cover category, but sub-categorized as Index or Bristol? Both would pass the filter. If it wasn't, forget I suggested it.

There is a modified WRNFile.TPS (with higher weight limits) available on the printfire web site. Click here to download it.
. . . . .  Hal Heindel



As I mentioned in my e-mail, the screen shots you sent me showed that you did enter both cover stocks in the right category. I should have known. Although we couldn't duplicate it, the problem should have disappeared once you installed the new WRNFile.

Following your recommendation, the new My Paper and One-Price Paper pick-lists now let you select cover weights up to 300 gsm (110 lbs) for digital and up to 280 gsm (100 lbs) for copiers.

Because of the weight increases, we also expanded the paper sub-categories for digital and copiers. They now include Index, Bristol, and Tag. In fact, the only paper types not available for digital and copiers are Diecut Labels and Blanks. They're a pain to run even on an offset press, and I can't imagine any printer desperate enough to want to retrieve loose sticky labels from the inner regions of a copier.

You may be right about the digital pricing issue being a can of worms after all. Technically, your Canon CLC 4000 is considered a Copier, at least the way Morning Flight looks at it. But then there is so much overlap in this field that it doesn't really matter where you put it, as long as the pricing works for you. Which in this case it doesn't, or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

If I understand your problem, what you need is sort of a hybrid, a machine that has both an hourly machine rate (operator's salary, depreciation, maintenance, overhead), and a click rate. Your cost per copy would be made up of the hourly rate, plus the click rate, plus consumables.

In a nutshell, the hourly rate would stay the same whether you run color or black, the click rate would change depending on whether you run color or black, and the consumables would change based on the number of colors and ink coverage.

If you don't mind itemizing the costs of a sample run, I can get a better idea of what's involved and then let you know whether the product-based version of Morning Flight can be tailored to accommodate it.

Not giving up on this just yet.
. . . . .  Hal Heindel


Let me get a few things cleared off my plate and I'll come up with something for you. As you say it's going to be a little tough because the CLC4000 is a "copier" but we need to have two click rates, one for BW and one for Color. We don't need anything for consumables because they are all included in the maintenance click charge.

I'll work on a few typical job costs and get back to you later this week. Thanks again!
. . . . . Craig Hofer


"We don't need anything for consumables because they are all included in the maintenance click charge."

Craig, I think you've already answered my main question. Does Canon really ignore ink coverage? In other words, do consumables cost the same for a solid four-color bleed as they do for a small multi-colored block of text surrounded by white space? Would seem extremely profitable for Canon for the text job and "about to lose my shirt here" for the solid coverage.
. . . . .  Hal Heindel


I wouldn't say Canon ignores coverage, I'm sure they are aware of how their machines are used. But OUR maintenance contract "click" charge is inclusive of ALL toners, starters, drums ... all consumables except staples. Also our click charge is the same for 8.5x11 AND 12x18, there is no "double click" for sheets larger than 8.5x11. REMEMBER that this is not true for all users. When we were shopping to replace our old CLC, almost all suppliers were double clicking over 8.5x11.

Here is what I would consider as costs for COLOR machines (CLC4000 and IRC3200): We average about 24,000 clicks per month color and 10,000 BW. Our maintenance charge is .075/color and .0015/BW. Right now, to figure pricing for these machines, I work backwards from a minimum price per click and go up.

I think it would be more productive to have an hourly rate which would cover overhead and labor (not really much labor, for the most part they run themselves, the CLC4000 is running a job while I'm typing this) then to be able to add in a click charge for both color and black. This way when I have a job that is 4/K MF would figure the price much the same as a 4/K press run, one price for Color, with a lower price for Black.

To compensate for the double clicks I think adding a check box would be needed so you could tell MF if anything over 11" is double clicked.

Sorry to make this one so complicated, but I think in the end it will be more productive for "hybrid" shops like us who offer offset and digital. I hope this doesn't come off sounding like I want you to make MF fit my shop. I just think that to be more competitive with longer runs, you should treat digital machines more like a hybrid press (with the exception that you can only price so low per click).

Knock yourself out!
. . . . . Craig Hofer



Generous of Canon not to double-click you for 12x18, but not surprising. The marketing and pricing in this industry is really going to the wall. Last week, Unitac was told by XPEDX that there is now a $4 surcharge on all orders placed off-line. Not a problem. Except that 20,000 sheets of 24 lb Classic Laid 8.5x11 in our XPEDX on-line shopping cart would have totaled $788. At the local XPEDX Paper Shop, the same paper goes out the door for $620.

I see nothing wrong with trying to make the program fit your operation. If a feature makes Morning Flight more usable without sacrificing simplicity, we'll try our best to accommodate. Printers who offer both offset and digital will soon be the norm, not the exception, so what you need in your shop will likely come in handy in other shops as well.

At this point, if we do include click charges, we'll probably add them to digital presses, not to copiers. And it would definitely call for check boxes for "double clicks > 11" (8.5x14) and "double clicks > 14" (11x17), with ISO equivalents. You would also need the option of charging $0.00 for consumables. What I'm not clear on is, how do click charges relate to quantity? Not in terms of what Canon charges you, but what you charge your customers? If you can elaborate on that, the pieces might fall into place. Thanks for the help.
. . . . .  Hal Heindel


Well I guess when I started with color "copiers" 5 or 6 years ago I tried to come up with a maximum run length when it no longer would make sense to run digitally. At that time it was 5000 sheets, so I took my average monthly volume divided that by my lease payment and then added my click charge and a small profit margin to come up with a low price point. I would use this as my 5000+ per piece (plus consumables of course) price and start working toward single piece copies until I had something that made sense, and the market would support.

Since then the click charges have been cut in half and consumables are included with it, and I have Morning Flight, I had to refigure pricing somewhat. I have tried to take a "hybrid press" approach. A lot is by trial and error (thankfully not much error). I have a large hourly rate, I think it's something like $200.00, I have adjusted the properties to bring my more popular runs to spec (usually 1000 - 2000 sheets). Then when I have to quote something longer I will check what MF comes up with to make sure it's not less than my bottom line per sheet price (usually figured n-up on 12x18).

Most of the run lengths are in the 500 to 2000 range 12x18 but I have had runs of 10000 12x18. Right now I have to quote 66,000 mailers 4/1, 4 up, that's a 16,500 sheet run. This is the kind of job that fits my equipment perfectly, it's somewhat of a variable data job with 220 different mailers at 300 pieces each, but my client needs it quoted per piece.

So to sum it up, I need to take my click charge into account much like labor on the press, but to set it up as a copier in MF is too restricting. A digital press works fine EXCEPT with Black Only, that's my hurdle to get over.
. . . . . Craig Hofer


Thanks, Craig . . .

. . . for all the work you've put into this. I have enough information now to start working on a prototype. We'll definitely need to change the press file (PRSFile.TPS) to accommodate click charges, but it's doable. Do you think the Startup Waste and Makeready input fields are necessary for Digital Presses, or can we just default them? Or maybe make them adjustable with the Wrench?

Give me a couple of weeks or so. There are a few projects I need to wrap up ahead of it (see Things we're working on . . . under Announcements).
. . . . .  Hal Heindel


"Do you think the Startup Waste and Makeready input fields are necessary for Digital Presses, or can we just default them? Or maybe make them adjustable with the Wrench?"

I'd say to make them adjustable with the Wrench, that way it would give another opportunity to fine tune the price if needed.

I really appreciate all the work you are putting into this product. It's nice to see a responsive software developer, too many times we get just the opposite.
. . . . . Craig Hofer