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FLEXO Magazine : May 2010
Plants & Processes From the FIRST Print Run to the Last – Always Consistent FIRST 4.0 gives you the tools you need to: • Optimize your processes • Improve color consistency • Minimize waste and downtime • Increase throughput and productivity FIRST 4.0 has expanded coverage on: • Methodology for print optimization, fingerprinting, characterization, and process control • Process color calibration • Process control test elements • Near-Neutral Calibration (G7TM) • Color management • Color measurement and tolerancing • Substrate attributes and testing • Specialty inks and coatings FTA Members: $99.00 | Non-members: $198.00 (Quantity discounts available. Call FTA at 631-737-6020 for more information) Order your copy today at www.ftastore.com New features of FIRST 4.0 include: • Updated best practices & technical information – nearly double the size of the 3rd Edition • Improved organization with tabbed section dividers and individual table of contents for each section • A 1,200 word Index • Enhanced graphics and images throughout the book • A CD with many new process control test elements and tools 34 FLEXO may 2010 www.flexography.org Define “crazy ” in the business environment: Insane? Deranged? Senseless and impractical? Sounds about right. The age-old definition of crazy is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Con- ducting business like that is definitely impractical, not to mention unprofitable. In today ’s economy, we must constantly be reinventing ourselves. We cannot continue with outdated practices and patched fixes to address more challenging problems and situations. We need to think outside the box, ask questions and utilize all resources available. The results of doing this may be discovering that what we have always thought of as the “best” way of doing something really isn’t. Once we avoid holding on to ideas just because they are comfortable, a whole new world opens up; a world which nurtures efficiency, production gains and profitability. Our customers expect consistency, predictability and repeatability. They demand that their printed work look the same every time—without surprises. It truly is a miracle that flexography can do this given how many variables we face. We’re fortunate for the many technological advances which have eliminated redundant variables and made this task easier for us, all while increasing our quality to be compa- rable to offset. Improved quality and fewer variables are beneficial however, they must also be married with thinking outside the box, asking the unusual questions and utilizing all the resources available to you. Change is good A colleague of mine and a Lean/Six Sigma black belt uses this statement whenever our teams are brainstorming methodology: “The only thing not negotiable is the support beams.” Status quo may be fine and may get you by, but is it the best way? Many people are firm believers in the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it mentality.” I challenge you to change that way of thinking. Examine your processes and workflow. Know where your bottlenecks lie and where improvements can (and should) be made. Push to make your processes lean and streamline your workflow. Adopting this way of thinking can make a world of difference. After examining our processes and identifying the “low hanging fruit” we have made vast improvements in a variety of areas. We no longer have CSRs fill out multiple sheets of paper with each job; the pressroom now does it when they need them. We check our plates for damages before putting them away after a job, rather than when we pull them prior to run- ning the job. We have a new all-encompassing quote request form, rather than a different one for different products. Most recently, one of our associates posed the question, “Can we eliminate our spec cards and solely use our MIS generated job tickets?” Undecided, we remain considering whether this would be the correct move. It would definitely change our process, which could cause hesitation and fear, but if the analysis confirms the benefits we will definitely adopt it. While none of these changes are monumental in the grand scheme of the company, they directly affect and improve the day-to-day operations for many positions. Thinking outside the box is a good way to go about analyz- ing existing processes. However, it is not always going to result in implementation. Sometimes your theory will not pan out as anticipated. Nevertheless, learning from your failures and stumbles can be very gratifying. I do agree that analysis and discussion can yield some valuable insights, but only action produces results. Regardless of the context of the results, positive or negative, you will have learned a valuable lesson from your action and you will have challenged yourself and those around you to think outside the box. ThaT age-old QuesTion When working on process improvements and efficiency gains, the most effective and obvious question I ask is, “ Why?” It can be viewed as an unusual question by many em- ployees. Frequently, the answer to this question is somewhere along the lines of, “That is the way we have always done it.” Complacency breeds inefficiencies, and boredom spawns complacency. Employees need to be engaged and inter- ested in the role they play at their workplace. So, how do you increase your employee engagement? Ask them unusual questions, get them thinking about how and why they perform their job, and encourage groups talking amongst themselves about an alternative way to do things. Who You Callin’ Crazy? efficiency Gains through Production standards and soPs By cayleigh nichols • Ask, “Why?” • Learn from failure. • Document your process. • Follow FIRST guidelines, establish SOPs. • Don’t be “crazy. ” FLX_May10_sec1.indd 34 4/19/10 1:10 PM