Tightening Operations to Increase a Printing Company’s Margins

Increasing capacity for the company color print-on-demand (POD) operation.

Client
A family-owned, operated and managed full service printing company with 40 employees. The printer owns a 100- kilowatt on-site wind turbine that run its presses. The company aims to be the greenest commercial printer in the U.S.

Objective
Increase capacity for the company’s color print-on-demand (POD) operation by 50% from 1.4M units/year to 2.1M units/year.

Tightening Operations to Increase a Printing Company’s MarginsWhat the Team Faced
The workflow to and from color POD was not efficient; 10+ trips per day across the entire facility were needed to support the color POD operation. Valuable time was wasted in order receipt and proofing processes. Color output on the existing printers had to be adjusted during runs. Inaccurate calibration and equipment warm-up problems led to excessive scrap. Because client proofs were not always made on the equipment that will produce the job, color accuracy problems have surfaced. Inefficient workplace organization contributed to excessive movement within the shop.

Requirements
Led by DPA senior consultant Mike Beauregard, the company’s Kaizen team planned steps to minimize the eight classic wastes in the company’s color POD operation: scrap/rework, over-production, inventory, motion, processing, transportation, waiting and under-utilized people.

Actions Taken
With support from Beauregard, the company’s Kaizen team created a layout and plan to move the main color printer into an air-conditioned color POD work cell located alongside the black and white printers. This eliminated employees’ multiple trips per day across the plant. The team changed the company’s approach to color calibration to make that process more consistent and robust. A press operator now comes in early to perform warm-up and do color calibration tests before the POD operation start time so that there is no production downtime in the morning.

The team recommended that the printing company purchase the new, higher speed color printer currently under investigation for the cell.  To streamline order processing and production and to improve communications, an “Action Needed” sheet is being e-mailed daily to the sales force; actions are discussed in each morning’s sales meeting. Color and black and white POD jobs have been organized into racks instead of piles and a prioritization approach has been implemented. Shelves for POD toner and spare parts have been reorganized and labeled. Plans have been made to organize the color POD paper supply after the color printer is moved to its new home.

Project Baseline to Benefits Comparison
By having the operator who comes in early perform start-up and color calibrations before the POD shift begins, company projects to save 45 minutes per day. At least 40 minutes per day will be saved by eliminating trips across the facility to recalibrate jobs. A more robust calibration program will minimize the number of times due to jam ups, color shifts and travel across the plant to clear paper from equipment and make color corrections. The team projects a net savings of two hours per day.

Productivity before Kaizen improvement activities with existing printer
60 cpm x 4 hrs/day = 14,400 clicks/day

Productivity after improvement, with existing machine
60 cpm x 6 hrs/day = 21,600 clicks/day, a 50% improvement

Productivity after improvement, with new printer
90 cpm x 6 hrs/day = 32,400 clicks/day, a 125% improvement. Based on the team’s calculations, the new printer should theoretically yield even more than 6 hrs of production per day.

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