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FLEXO Magazine : February 2008
36 FLEXO FEBRUARY 2008 www.flexography.org Production Estimating -- used in the creation of estimated costs with a view to convert to a production job. Master Estimating -- a template design from which both sales and production estimates can be generated. Furthermore, defining the finished product on an estimate, including the substrate, ink and packaging material, permits the system to calculate the time necessary for each task and the gross material required. Additionally, the software provides a very pow- erful and flexible estimating tool. Within an estimate there can be multiple versions, which could vary by quantity, production route and even by plant. SCHEDULING & FLOW As customer orders are booked, they can be scheduled based on order due date or other criteria. A scheduling module receives customer orders as they are booked, thereby allowing early vis- ibility to demand on capacity. The scheduling algorithms are flexible and comprehensive, so that organizations can schedule to level production and stabilize spikes in production; sequence jobs to minimize the setup time; and schedule around the availability of resources needed to complete the job. Displayed on a graphical planning board with full "what if " capabilities, the scheduling application is designed around the dynamics of the printing and packaging market sectors in which there are numerous changes to customer orders and short lead times in any given day. Key benefits of Lean Manufacturing in- clude simplicity and visual control. Another module presents data to the shop floor operators in an easy-to-access manner. The data includes the current work-to-list, as published by the schedule, an online view of the work instructions, and a graphical view of the product being produced along with any special instructions or quality tests. Consumption can be recorded at press side for high-dollar ticket items, such as substrates; or the application can backflush items, depending on preferences. Substrates can be tracked from consumption through work in progress all the way to finished goods. The use of hand-held devices to scan bar codes speeds up this process and also removes the potential for keystroke errors. Recording actual quantity produced can be automatically picked up using a direct machine interface, in which the count is picked up from sensors located on the manufacturing equipment, re- moving the potential for keystroke mistakes. All of the transactions recorded are visible to authorized users on a real-time basis. This allows customer service representa- tives the capability to view where a job is, at any given moment, and reduce cost-added activities like having to physically talk to the scheduler. All of the transactions recorded on the shop floor are transferred to the job costing module, where comparisons on estimate and actual standard e analysis is generated by job, , material usage variance or scrap CTURING Another concept of Lean Manufacturing is "High Velocity Manufacturing," a step above Lean, as it follows the same basic principles, i.e. reduction in waste, streamlining business process- es, reducing or eliminating cost added functions and providing value-added functions. But it doesn't stop there. High Velocity Manufacturing extends to a company-wide philosophy, which includes a commitment to the continuous pursuit of excellence in all phases of the business. Typically, a new implementation of ERP software is geared around solving the business issues that are present today. However, high-end systems are designed around best practices in all aspects of printing and packaging organizations worldwide. As such, the application is continually evolving with the needs of the market for which it is designed. Regular releases of the product allow organizations to re-evaluate existing procedures and imple- ment improvements. The way printing and packaging organizations interface with their customers is extremely different from the traditional "man- ufacturing environment. Customers now initiate policies such as supply-chain or vendor-managed inventory, and organizations that try to shoehorn these new processes into the "way we have always worked," will most likely fail. A successful and disciplined culture, requires adopting revolutionary ideas, new attitudes and technologies. While many companies have embraced a number of Lean Manufacturing concepts, many have yet to fully realize the bene- fits of a fully-integrated Lean environment. In a recent survey for the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute Inc., many of whom are also members of Flexographic Technical Association, 57 per- cent of the companies surveyed said that they were planning to initiate a Lean Manufacturing project in the next three years. The reality is many of these companies cannot afford to wait to implement a Lean environment. Using tools that are disconnect- ed from the business systems already in place will lead to inflex- ibility and errors. The bottom line is utilizing new ERP software will not only improve efficiencies, quality and reduce waste; it will enable printing and packaging companies to survive and thrive in today's very competitive and ever-changing marketplace. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Taylor is president and CEO of Radius Solutions Inc. Taylor is responsible for all global strategy, com- munications and business development. He has more than 18 years of professional and managerial experience in software applications and the packaging and printing industry. Taylor is an active contributor in many industry associations and has been quoted in a number of publications in the printing/convert- ing industry. Prior to joining Radius Solutions in 1997, Taylor ran a division for a software tools development company. He has a degree in Computer Science and an MBA from Cranfield University. TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES