Relatively minor improvements now can make a significant difference to the bottom line, and the process will help identify the focus of your next major capital investment.
Among key questions are these:
• Are inventory and work-in-progress levels as low as they can be?
• What’s the average lead time from order placement to delivery? Would you gain incremental business if you could cut this in half?
• How long does prepress and platemaking/cylinder imaging take? Is there a way of improving efficiency or reducing costs?
• Are you able to run your press at optimal speeds? If not, why not?
• Where are the bottlenecks in your workflow? What will it take to reduce or eliminate them?
• Have you analysed your product mix? How has it changed since your last major capital investment? Are you losing money on some jobs in order to retain key customers?
• If average run lengths all dropped by 50%, could you still make an acceptable margin?
• If you were starting up a business today, would you make the same equipment/process choices?
A simple principle to keep in mind while examining the workflow is this: ‘If it isn’t moving, it’s costing money.’ This includes inventory and printed materials stored between processes – onsite or off.
Another addressable cost is that of outsourced processes. Can any of these be brought in-house and carried out more cost-effectively? Be sure to include time and delivery costs, too!
Finally, when was the last time you visited your suppliers? Are they working optimally, or are you paying for their inefficiencies?
Examining your business can be a positive exercise. Invite your suppliers to help with the process; engage them and let them help you develop solutions; or invite potential new suppliers who can help you to discover something new.
[Ed’s note: To learn more about the productivity gains of web offset for packaging printing using Goss’s Sunday Vpak, turn to page 36.]