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FLEXO Magazine : September 2012
FLEXO: Do LEAN manufacturing principles have a place in your plant? Why/why not? MUENZER: Spear applies LEAN Six Sigma methodologies globally across all business functions. This process has been around for many years and is engrained in Spear ’s DNA, due to success in driving cost out of the business by making our processes more efficient and less wasteful. This includes production, support and administrative activities. FLEXO: Have you moved, or do you intend to move to a completely automated workflow? How will that enhance your firm’s competitive position? MUENZER: Spear has implemented internal automated workflow in our integrated graphics departments and we are actively reviewing the best avenue to expand its application. We anticipate this will be a critical implementation as we move into more digital print and have the need to align it with our flexo and alternative processes. FLEXO: What other steps are you taking to maintain a path toward continuous improvement in your plant? MUENZER: LEAN Six Sigma is the cornerstone of our con- tinuous improvement process and includes an aggressive expansion of our black, green and white belt certifications. Spear has experienced YOY (year over year) top-line savings in excess of 2 percent through manufacturing, quality, pro- curement, product development and engineering programs. FLEXO: Have you attained FIRST, ISO, ANSI, or environmen- tally related certifications? Do you expect to in the future? MUENZER: Spear facilities are ISO 14001 and Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI) Label Initiative for the Environ- ment ( L.I .F.E .) certified. We are pursuing global corporate certification similar to our ISO 9001 global registration. In ad- dition we are pursuing Food Safety FSSC 22000 certification. Our New Hampshire facility ’s clean-room environment meets American Institute for Bakers (AIB) standards for food grade manufacturing, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and additional food safety testing. FLEXO: How do you assess and enhance the skills of your pressroom personnel? MUENZER: Spear has taken a level up approach to hiring, training, and advancing personnel. We believe hiring the right personnel at entry level positions and training them to advance to their highest potential increases productivity and improves moral. By incorporating regular training into our operations, our process continuously improves. We have structured our hiring practices, our training process, and job functionality around this concept. Highlights include a Train the Trainer Program, metric driven annual performance ap- praisals, a Work instruction Training and Audit program, and a structured onboarding process that includes weekly evalua- tion of new employees. FLEXO: How does Spear leverage its expertise and history in the label industry to the “new ” green thinking? MUENZER: Spear is seen as an environmental leader in the label industry. It’s received TLMI’s Environmental Award and is the current chair of its recycling solutions committee. We assume active ownership in our customers’ liner recycling initiatives, along with taking a leadership position in finding alternatives for production matrix waste including waste to energy (WTE) options. Spear’s ultimate goal is to be land-fill free with two of our facilities already achieving this distinction. We are first to the table with network partners, such as Avery Dennsion (beta-test partner for ThinStream ultra-thin lin- ers) and Mitsubishi (beta-test partner for re-process liner to liner recycling). Our collective sustainability centered efforts have provided behind the scenes access to the entire label network—from resin manufacturers to waste management companies. FLEXO: Can you provide a brief statement on how smart/ interactive labels and QR codes, combination/multi-process printing, digital printing as a complementary technology to flexo, and expanded gamut printing are impacting your plant? What likely effects will they have on operations in the years to come? MUENZER: Interactive labels are not only the wave of the fu- ture, but the wave of the present. Applications include QR code randomization, hidden augmented reality video and games along with more traditional peel, scratch, smell, etc. technolo- gies like Anheuser Busch’s Bud Light “Make Your Mark” cam- paign deemed its most successful innovation of the year. The majority of Spear ’s non-gravure labels include multi- process printing for both clear and opaque materials. Flexo, screen, stamping combinations have become the norm. Spear is actively expanding its digital offering as a direct complement to, and not replacement for, traditional flexo Pressroom floor, Spear USA, Mason, OH. Spear’s proprietary combination presses (11 total in operation) combine UV Flexo with rotary screen and hot-stamping. 36 FLEXO SePteMber 2012 www.flexography.org