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FLEXO Magazine : May 2010
Plants & Processes MAXIMIZE YOUR HUMAN CAPITAL FOR FLEXOGRAPHIC EXCELLENCE MAXIMIZE YOUR HUMAN CAPITAL FOR FLEXOGRAPHIC EXCELLENCE The most valuable asset in any flexographic production environment is your Human Capital. But, without a preventative maintenance plan for your Human Capital, you begin to experience unexpected downtime, decreased productivity, increased waste & spending, lower customer satisfaction scores, and valuable time lost. To avoid such costly outcomes, a plan needs to be put in place quickly and measurably. That’s where TEST (Technical Education Services Team) comes in. TEST supports your business goals through innovative approaches to training for individuals and organizations. Whether it is a customized Virtual Campus to meet your company’s professional development objectives or on-site training and advisement, TEST offers a vast array of courses utilizing a variety of innovative learning methods. Choose from: • Online training via the TEST Virtual Campus • Co-sponsored seminars & events • Customized, in-house training and advisement Visit www.flexography.org to learn more. 36 FLEXO may 2010 www.flexography.org Our Lean/Six Sigma journey began Q1 2008, and to date we have had more than 70 percent of associates directly in- volved in one project or another. The first group to go through the process was reluctant. This is to be expected. However, after seeing the results, those who had been uninvolved were requesting to participate. We have completed many different projects and the dol- lar savings have been material. Still, some of the intangible results have been equally valuable. Our employees are engaged in what they are doing on a daily basis. They are writing their own SOPs and they are now asking, “Why?” Additionally, we have had a sizeable increase in employee suggestions, and who better to make the suggestions than the people completing the tasks? Our increased employee en- gagement has also improved our safety and our quality, while reducing the number of customer complaints. Furthermore our employee tardiness and absenteeism has decreased dra- matically. Unmistakably, asking “Why ” has had a very positive effect on our organization and our employees’ engagement. It has helped us not only clean up the low hanging fruit, but also get to the root cause of more serious process issues. FIRST ThoughTS Thinking outside the box, asking the obvious questions and improving employee engagement are all things that you em- brace internally at your organization and do not really involve any external support. There is support out there though, so why not use it? Take advantage of industry organizations and partner with your knowledgeable vendors. There is no need to go solo. In a previous article, we discussed the process improve- ments FIRST 4.0 (Flexographic Image Reproduction Speci- fication and Tolerances) has helped our organization with, specifically decreased downtime, better communication and overall process control (see FLEXO Sept. 2009, page 12). For minimal investment, the FTA and FIRST 4.0 provide remark- able value. Utilizing industry organizations and support is fundamental to success for you and your enterprise. Get involved, become a member or at the very minimum at least know what is out there and what they have to offer. Our experience with implementing FIRST 4.0 has been “ FIR ST-class” (pun intended). We have multiple volumes of the book in the plant and in the office. We use it as a press- side reference, like an all inclusive flexo encyclopedia. We have trained our prepress department and pressroom on these specs and tolerances. Our sales force has been through a seminar on introducing FIRST to our customers, and how we can use it together to get better results. Most importantly, FIRST 4.0 has provided us with the guidelines to control our processes. Between FIRST and our Lean/Six Sig- ma program, we now use statistical process control software to track and analyze multiple variables in our organization. Our documentation has increased tenfold. We track and monitor our proofers, our platemaking equipment, our press downtimes, our inks and many other variables. Doing this provides us with control over variables that can cause major problems in production. We no longer have to play the where- is-the-problem game. We have the data to tell us there is a problem before it interrupts production. Since we have started to think this way, we have seen a change in employee culture. They say it takes two to three years to change a culture, and we are well on our way. No longer are we doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results and improvements. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and pushing forward. We are thinking outside the box. We are asking, “Why?” Our employ- ees are engaged and we are utilizing the outside resources available to us. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses—sometimes we mis- step—but the overall experience is positive. We are not going to be left behind, the economy will not get the best of us and, for the most part, we aren’t crazy. n ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cayleigh Nichols currently works as a project specialist at Prairie State Group near Chicago, IL, handling all of the firm’s color management needs as well as being one of the Lean/Six Sigma trained green belts on staff. Part-time, she teaches Introductory Color Management and Advanced Color Management at Harper College. Nichols is a graduate of the Graphic Communications Management program at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, Canada. She will also co-chair FTA’s Fall Conference with one of her val- ued vendor partners, Richard Black,All Printing Resources, in Louisville, KY, Nov. 8-10. Before (left) and after: Prairie state Group (PsG) applies the 5s’s—sort, set-in-order, shine, standardize, and sustain. Photos courtesy Prairie state Group. FLX_May10_sec1.indd 36 4/19/10 1:11 PM