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FLEXO Magazine : February 2014
PLANTS & PROCESSES Successful Implementation Of Workflow Automation In Prepress Question Current Processes, Identify Weak Points, Weed Them Out By Tyler Mills Automation infiltrates our daily lives. ATMs and indoor thermostats are just a handful of the systems that we use today with built in automation, designed to per- form tasks with reduced operator intervention and a higher degree of accuracy. The benefits of establishing automation are clear and you’d be hard pressed to find any company executives not in support of automating aspects of the business whenever possible, provided the costs of doing so are kept in check. Au- tomation has the potential to remove wasted time, reduce the number of errors, refocus employees on value added tasks and provide better records of activities. The problem, though, is that automated solutions are not an out of the box panacea for lack of efficiency. Automation will not fix a broken workflow, but standardization, careful planning and proper project coordination will provide a higher chance for a more successful deployment and a more productive operation. DO YOUR PREP WORK As with all projects, the ideal first step before deploying automation should be to complete the necessary prep work in what the Project Management Institute (PMI) describes in its Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as the Initiation Phase: • Create a project team to address the project idea • Develop a project scope and a project charter • Put together a communication plan CHARTING YOUR WORKFLOW • Consider each separate step where a job changes hands • Within each step, determine all of the major tasks done to complete that step • Within each task, list each piece of software and each piece of data used to complete that task • Find any potential errors that might come about from operator error in that task • Use the above as a guide for determining where automation will have the biggest impact • Remove wasted time, reduce the number of errors, refocus employees on value added tasks and provide better records of activities 48 FLEXO FEBRUARY 2014 www.flexography.org Your automation team will establish project scope, communication plans, cost analysis and risk assessment.