Lean in to profitable in-house print production

When you look at ways to make productivity improvements in your operation what is your first consideration? For many, the answer is likely to be new hardware to increase capacity as the best option for a quick win, and it can be easy to overlook the opportunity to make productivity gains by applying some lean manufacturing techniques.

Print: Lean in to profitable in-house print production

Today’s in-house print room or CRD production environment requires the flexibility to handle an increasing number of shorter, fast-turnaround print jobs. A speedier press will help an operation only so much. Intelligent front-end workflow and streamlined lean print production techniques are essential to creating the most efficient end-to-end process.

That all sounds great in theory but in reality where does a well established, busy operation start? How can you assess every step without impacting current operations? Where do you find the time and how can you be sure the outcome is worth the investment?

Our Lean Print Services team has more than 30 years’ experience of getting under the skin of businesses, evaluating them from an external perspective and creating an approach to help them transform while they still deliver their everyday operational responsibilities.

There are five main things to consider:

1.   Workplace organisation – Are printer operators spending too much time looking for the right paper? Are there dedicated areas for storing print that’s waiting to be finished or boxed without causing obstacles to others?

2.   Understand your capacity and how able you are to take on more work. Can jobs be better managed and is the operation as streamlined as it can be from job receipt to fulfilment?

3.   Are you effective or efficient? You may be effective but at what cost? Being efficient requires a total understanding of your entire print production process and the financial impact it has on your operating costs.

4.   Is your equipment in good order? How much time is being lost to production downtime and during maintenance?

5.    Are your Key Performance Indicators driving staff behaviour and commitment to improve? Does the team know if they are meeting targets? Are you successful in implementing continuous improvement initiatives?

For example, with point two the Ricoh team often finds that ‘busy’ companies have no idea how their capacity is impacting their bottom line. Our experts ask key questions such as are the jobs profitable? Have the correct costs been factored in? When are the busy periods in the week and can they be evened out? Can work be scheduled so that certain presses run certain paper stock and sizes, eliminating time wasted in setting up or changing jobs?

These types of questions are asked at every stage of the lean print service review process and after the review the team develops a plan that can have an immediate impact.

One such evaluation was completed at a major university print room when it ordered new Ricoh presses to replace units from another supplier. Immediate time and cost savings were made when it was suggested that the new presses should be relocated in a way that better supports the flow of their work from print to finishing, and that paper that was being stored in a variety of locations should be held in one place.

The next steps in the study with the university have been to fully understand why some outsourcing is still required. The team is considering how to better manage KPIs and open up capacity and enable the department to, not only improve its throughput, but also to consider taking on new work, maybe from outside the organisation.

Very often print operations need to take an outside view in, examining how they work now to operate more efficiently in the future. Many are not broken they just need a plan to develop this leaner operation – and in most cases, there is a strong link between being lean and green, as energy and waste can also be minimised for example.

If you want to make a plan for your operation contact your local Ricoh representative who will introduce you to our Lean Print Services experts. They will be delighted to help you create a more efficient and profitable production environment.

For more information, visit www.ricoh.co.uk.

Craig Lewis

Head of Enterprise Printing at Ricoh Europe Production Print

Read all articles by Craig Lewis