Featured on Howard Direct

Featured on Howard Direct


By:  Nick Howard  |  Date: January 2012  |  Contact the Author
Part 1 | Part 2

Cont'd from Part 1

Have A "Wish List" Of Machinery Or Devices You Consider Important
Trade shows, manufacturer presentations as well as your own staff can help in this regard. Most everyone has an opinion; some may be worth looking into in developing your list. What are your competitors doing and what are they running? This can prove very useful, if available. The general consensus is that digital based print is growing. Possibly you have not spent time to add this to your wish list.  Putting new processes on the table can make you work at determining if there is something you need to invest in.

Rate Your Staff
Not necessary to make more paperwork but judging the productivity of those you employ as well as their maintenance factor, leaves you with a better understanding of what you have and if new technology will be an asset or a burden. There are many examples of highly advanced machines going into shops with staff not able to digest and use the equipment to help grow the business.

People tend to like a comfort zone and some don’t appreciate a challenge of, say, a new brand machine or operation environment. When this happens the first to be blamed is the machine or process. So, knowing what you really have in terms of personnel is key to advancing your business.

Push The Envelope
The claims made by the people who make your machines are usually grandiose. But, don’t assume that they cannot be achieved. Empower your workforce to push the benchmark limits you have somehow developed. Simple things like running speeds or more difficult to master technology as with make-ready can all be improved. Some slowly but none-the-less crucial. The make-ready issue is one that everyone, including manufacturers focus on and you should too.

This will also help you in your “Wish List”, as clearly defined problems in make-ready reduction will be more apparent when you push that frontier. Take a test pilot who pushes his machine to the max actually wanting something to fail. This example on a printing press exposes problems and difficulties much easier and therefore makes for a clear understanding of where you want to go.

Reduce Paperwork
We discussed this earlier and best to explain. If one can build a process that requires a minimal amount of documentation this will prove significant. Most machines today have all sorts of information built in. This information should be all you need to know the performance of that equipment. The information should range from things like running speed, total sheets, how many stops, waste, errors, good sheets, even ink used.

By reducing paperwork you actually are forced to develop a simple easy to follow environment that lets people concentrate on the basics. In my discussion about lubrication, this is a very good example of simple and repetitive work that has very little paperwork if applied correctly. But, one must realize that to build a minimal paperwork environment will involve healthy amounts of structure analysis at the beginning. When deciding on implementing this system, work very hard at taking steps out of procedures that can be incorporated into others.

The next few years will continue to put pressure on our industry. Sometimes looking back or going back to the basics can be an important element of extending the useful life of your key assets. Even though the cost of print has been reduced due to new technology it is really important for us to know that this does not mean we are at the bottom. Those that do not continue to strive for further cost reductions in their operations will continue to be faced with dwindling opportunities ahead.

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