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FLEXO Magazine : November 2012
differences in pigments from what was used in the provided sample to the pigments used in your ink system. Samples must be usable, meaning they are not in a destroyed condition. The customer needs to let you know if the provided sample reflects the true quality expectation or is it for fit/form/function only. Quantify the sample by using measurement. It is considered a best practice to write out and execute a process of communication for customer/sales/ prepress/printer to get the right information. Book standards may differ, so consider assigning a custom color to a match if it does not truly match any known color. The last element to eliminate tinkering at press is to create a cultural change. There are five elements: management structure, support, process improvement technique, training and equipment analysis. Management must buy-in to the cultural change. If an operator reports that something needs to be repaired or done differently, management needs to listen and act. The essential elements of management can be split between supervisors and managers. • Supervisors should have control of communicating to those supplying all the press inputs. They should also be interested in developing the skill set of the operators and insist proper press conditions are maintained • Managers must communicate the results of these efforts, ensure support personnel have the necessary skills. Managers must also recognize and encourage the vital importance of press maintenance, which includes peri- odic shutdowns Process improvement is the mechanism for making things better. Original processes must be documented and any changes must be carefully monitored for determining the added value. Through these efforts, greater attention to detail is created and that alone is a justifiable reason for process improvement. Skill development is much more rapid and to the point if developed through training. For anyone to improve he/she must first understand; to understand, he/she must learn; to learn, he/she must seek knowledge. Get that knowledge from the FTA, schools, trade publications and suppliers. Training is reinforced through mentoring and skill demonstration. Incor- porate both in your training program. Also consider cross-training between departments to develop a much greater understanding of the entire process. Operators must adapt to their press culture the element of equipment analysis. How often do you find someone working with broken or substandard equipment that under the best of circumstances will not perform adequately? Worn and broken parts must be identified and eliminated. Whenever pre-operations don’t go as planned.... you will get experiments and manipulations at press. This dynamic is known as tinkering. Build yourself a solid foundation follow- ing the FIRST principles and then look at your processes. Knowing that print expectations can never really be achieved by constantly modifying from the script, we must address the upstream problems before they get to press. Give each mem- ber of the upstream process the responsibility to manage and monitor his or her area of expertise. Create a cultural change that discourages tinkering instead of enabling. Operators of presses must understand the limitations they face, how to recognize them and what their true roles are at press. These roles are limited to repeatable setups, following the recipe and sustaining the print capability. Anything else falls under the category of tinkering. Remove the obstacles to your printing process by getting rid of wasteful practices and become more competitive today! n About the Authors: Sean Teufler, technical graphics advisor, Harper GraphicSolutions, has been a part of Harper Corporation of America for more than nine years. In that time he has been “Tech of the Year” for Harper seven years in a row. Sean stays active in the industry committees, among them Flexographic Technical Association’s Supplier Leader- ship Council and Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC). Teufler, a familiar speaker at many FTA and other industry events, was recognized earlier this year with the 2012 FTA President’s Award for Leadership Excellence. He is a Level 3 FFTA/TEST Certified Implementation Specialist. Johnny Dye is printing operations man- ager, Accredo Packaging, Sugar Land, TX . He and Teufler served as co-chairs of last month’s FTA Fall Conference—Efficiency in Flexography: Connecting the Dots, where they collaborated in jointly present- ing a pre-conference workshop entitled, “Taking Tinkering to Task.” This article both summarizes and supplements their remarks and observations that were delivered in Milwaukee. He started his journey in the flexographic industry in 1991. During his 21-year career, Dye has worked for two of the larg- est and most respected converters in North America; serving multiple locations all over the country in the fields of press and prepress management. Johnny has been working for Accredo Packaging, Inc. for the last four years. He stays very active in the FTA, and served as a speaker at the 2012 Forum. Operators can only match within the realm of specification determined by process and press capability. Print samples may fall well outside those parameters. www.flexography.org nOvember 2012 FLEXO 43