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FLEXO Magazine : August 2010
Plants & Processes FIRST & Continuous Improvement smyth Boosts Productivity by 50% By ann Warzecha and Kim Madigan The Smyth Minneapolis flexo printing facility has used different continuous improvement and process control tools and philosophies for the last seven years. We have Six Sigma black and green belts on staff, as well as Lean leaders. We actively participate in FTA and operate our busi- ness adhering to FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances) guidelines. Color control using FIRST as a foundation was introduced at Smyth in 2004. We started by putting optimization into the hands of our people, meaning we had our employees decide on the best way to complete tasks, cutting out variance, in all areas of our workflow. The mission was to ensure all of our equipment was running under optimal conditions. During this phase, we choose the specific anilox rolls, inks, plates, mounting tape, etc. that would be used in our normal production environment and then used the teams agreed upon process and procedures as starting points. Once the optimization process was complete, we moved onto fingerprinting, process control and characterization while still keeping all of our employees involved. During the fingerprinting process, we established our goal densities and adjusted our curves controlling our dot gain to the same space every time. During the characterization, we take a snapshot of the controlled processes coming together to create this gamut. The information gathered during this step is used in our proofing device. The opportunity to prove our process everyday is in the numbers, returning to the output devices’, specific conditions every time. We take read- ings and document the curves applied during inspection in prepress. We take readings and document the plates and we read and document the press density and dot area for each run. This process needs to be supported with data collected in all areas as a verification that the product is within the defined tolerance. In addition, audits need to take place to watch for any variance that may creep into the process over time. The data collected in all areas of the process allows us the ability to trou- bleshoot effectively and adjust quickly when we run into issues. The numbers help us to understand which area may have caused an issue. When we do adjust, we can make a change based on a number, not a feel, such as lighter or darker. Overall, we have been able to establish a consistent process, acceptable tolerances and documentation to sup- port the process. We need to prove that our process is under control every day. In 2008 and 2009, Smyth worked with a Lean consulting firm to train our Lean leaders and facilitate several of our Kaizen events. Each of Smyth’s three production facilities now have leaders in place who continue to hold Kaizen events and other CI activities on a regular basis. (con’t . on page 79) • FIRST things first: optimize, fingerprint, characterize. • Establish Lean leaders and conduct Kaizan events. • Regular audits help maintain existing improvements and identify new opportunities. Kim Madigan, smyth’s director of corporate color (front), discusses continuous improvement and FIRST with Press operator steve schultz (back, left), and Pressroom supervisor Greg Fikse (right). MAXIMIZE YOUR HUMAN CAPITAL FOR FLEXOGRAPHIC EXCELLENCE MaxiMize Your Human Capital for flexographic excellence • Maximize efficiency • Boost productivity • Obtain color accurate & consistent results • Give your plant a true competitive advantage • Satisfy your customers faster than ever before • Keep repeat orders flowing • Promote enthusiasm, initiative & innovation among employees The end result? Proficiency –demonstrated by high-quality, repeatable & consistent results. FFTA’s FIRST Operator Certification Program, administered online via the TEST Virtual Campus, is the flexo industry’s standard of excellence. Contact us at 631-737-6020 to setup a demo and begin your journey to a FIRST Certification today! Visit www.flexography.org to learn more. FIRST_Impl_ad_mech.indd 1 6/4/10 1:16 PM 72 FLEXO auGust 2010 www.flexography.org August2010_mech.indd 72 9/7/10 1:44 PM
Sustainable Summer 2010