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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Plants & Processes CREATIVITY AND EFFICIENCY Smyth encourages innovation among its employees. “ We’re a creative company. Management and the owners have always allowed us to present our ideas, and they give us a chance to put them in place,” says Madigan. The focus is on the big picture, however. The day-to-day ac- tivities—what Madigan calls “the normal stuff ” —are a matter of training, which is why Smyth has invested in Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) certification. “ We’re always looking for opportunities to sustain the processes that we have developed, because we don’t want to spend a lot of time going over and working on what should be a normal process,” Madigan says. When daily tasks such as recording numbers become second nature, it frees up time, she adds. The extra time gives employees the opportunity to use their creativity to adapt to new technology or generate ideas for handling new projects. Likewise, the extra time allows employees to advance in their training at their own pace. “ When you’re on-line with a program like FIRST, you can read through something 12 times and no one knows. It’s less inhibiting when you don’t have to be spotlighted in a classroom setting or worry about how you look in front of everyone else. ” FIRST creates a beneficial cycle: Better training promotes productivity and saves time, and saved time provides an op- portunity for advanced training. In fact, Madigan is so impressed with the way FIRST train- ing enhances efficiency and saves time that she hopes other segments of the printing industry enroll in the program. “One thing I am encouraged about is that it’s an option for separators and art houses,” she says. “ We still get files designed for sheet-fed processes, but if they go through the program, it would educate them. It’s a broad learning op- portunity.” n www.flexography.org april 2011 FLEXO 39 UNDERsTANDINg ThE PRoCEss Q&A with Kim Madigan, Director of Corporate Color Management Q: What prompted the decision to have Smyth staff go through FIRST training? Madigan: This opportunity seemed like a way to train employees and hold operations under control. Q: What was your goal in having staff enroll in the training? Madigan: It’s a way to keep our procedures in place and keep them strong. It helps when something is more in your face. The more people see it, the more they stick to it. We don’t want to spend a lot of time going over and working on what should be a normal process. The better educated people are, the more it becomes just a part of the process Q: How many people on your staff have been through FIRST training? Madigan: There are 40 of us in training. Some are in Level I, others are in Level II. Supervisors and managers started in the training a bit earlier in case there were issues with the website or if there were questions, so we’d be ready. There are about 100 employees in the flexo division. Q: How has the staff responded to the training? Madigan: People love opportunities to learn. They also see where being certified can further their careers. Should they ever go anywhere else, they ’re already certified. Q: How has the training improved your processes? Madigan: It’s easier to make sure all the pieces are in place when we’re auditing or evaluating our processes. It has also improved our paperwork. When something is working, people don’t want to have to write it down. But FIRST explains why you need to write it down, who uses the numbers and what they are using the numbers for. Q: If colleagues were to ask you about the pro- gram, what advice would you give them? Madigan: It is a school-oriented process and it’s designed for learning, so if you go into it thinking it will be a slam-dunk, you will be overwhelmed. It helps to remind everybody that understanding the whole process and its variations may help in doing the job.