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How to Get More from Your Floor

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Find out how shop-floor efficiency can carry your business toward increased profitability.

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By Rick Mandel

The ways in which work flows through your plant influences efficiency. If the flow through the shop creates natural interactions between staff in prepress, printing, finishing, and shipping, success is inevitable. But before you completely rearrange your plant, decide how you would like your teams to interact and how the flow of communications will mold the final product.

Our world of custom, large-format, digital printing allows and requires a number of planners to throw ideas out on the best way to produce a project. The materials and print methodology is not so cut and dried. Quotes are expected in hours, not days, and projects are turned same day. The natural progression is that certain people develop an expertise in one area and others get good at different elements of the business. The work environment becomes the conduit for interaction.

Digital print production has evolved within the skill sets of our people—sales expectations, production coordination or customer service, prepress people, the printing department, and finishing. Solid knowledge is expected in prepress, while prepress people are also doing the printing. The critical part of the digital cutting process also relies on that original file. Wouldn’t it be great if communication were effortless within the prepress, printing, and finishing environments? All three are intertwined and depend on the original digital files. Even the sales group deals with files. My company arms sales with the capability to grab files from the FTP server, view them for an initial evaluation, and then place them on our production server. Our clients expect the sales group to be consultative not only in printing and materials for the final product, but also with digital imagery within the file.

Experts agree that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for designing the ideal workplace. However, they fall into two divided camps when it comes to a fundamental aspect of apportioning space. One group looks to a return to private offices; the other promotes completely open offices. Interestingly, these groups are united in their disdain for what some might consider a compromise position—cubicles, the office environment most commonly used by employers. Currently, an estimated 70% of workers spend their time in cubicles. They provide pseudo-privacy at best and are terrible for spontaneous communication.


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