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Making Lean Work

(February 2007) posted on Sun Feb 25, 2007

Committing to lean manufacturing can be an intimidating proposition for those who aren't prepared for change. This article explains how implementing lean step-by-step can benefit print providers.

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By Les deHamer

Another data-analysis tool is the spaghetti diagram. It's used to collect the distance a person (or people) travels in a specific task or time frame. The diagram shown in Figure 2 represents the motions that the lead press operator makes in production. Following the operator around with a Lufkin measuring wheel during a shop visit revealed that he alone travels in excess of 4378 feet during an average print run.

The term 5S is another that companies hear quite often but sometimes have a slight difficulty in grasping conceptually. 5S is a method to improve and sustain the workplace organization. It represents the five disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace (visual controls and information systems). These are sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. These are foundational to continual improvement and a manufacturing strategy based on lean manufacturing (waste removing). The benefits of a 5S Program could be any or all of the following: reduction in clutter, reduction in the time it takes to look for tools and equipment, making sure there's a place for everything and everything is in its place, and improving how the operation appears to customers. A lean operation strives to be tour-ready at all times, which has the added benefit of creating pride in the workplace. A perfect score in a 5S assessment is 5, so we can see in Table 2 that, with a score of 0.4, the company has a lot of room for improvement.

The goal is to create a changeover sequence that eliminates time and distance traveled. Let's begin with the time study (Table 1). By using various lean techniques we can estimate a conservative reduction of 66:00 minutes. The press studied has a burden rate of $305.00 per hour. Potential amount saved per changeover could be $335.50. With an average daily job docket of five jobs per day and a five-day work week, we can calculate an $8387.50 of available press time created. Using a 50-week-peryear standard, we see that this single project can create a potential of $419,375.00 of press time that can be sold, creating opportunities to service new and existing clients. This project can be repeated on other presses in the facility, creating an even larger press capacity for possible sales.

The company on which this case study is based will have the chance to open a capacity of more than $800,000 in press time alone. With additional projects identified in areas of both manufacturing and service operations, we can see the low-hanging fruit is available and ready.

With a success such as this under their belt, the manufacturing staff will sustain the progression and take pride in their own victories. Their motto going forward will be “Work smarter, not harder,” and the staff will be instrumental in creating a system that is sustainable and will continue to drive out waste.


You can go lean

Does lean manufacturing work in the printing industry? Yes! But try it before you buy it. Get your people excited about it through some successful projects. You will never look back. By choosing the correct opportunities and creating a success story that involves your entire staff, you can enjoy a winning journey to lean manufacturing. Just like saving money for retirement, the key to lean implementation is to start small, early, and make contributions regularly.



Les deHamer is a Chromatix consultant for Nazdar Consulting Services. He has 23 years of experience in the printing and manufacturing industries and is a Six Sigma Black Belt trained at Motorola University. Certified in lean manufacturing methodologies, he has expertise in color management, prepress, quality assurance, and workflow-management systems.



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