Staging is the key to proper production planning for garment screen printers. This primer will help you start staging your garment jobs effectively.
Staging is the gathering of required tools and materials in a physical location in readiness for the succeeding steps of the production process. Staging a garment-printing run involves an assembly of screens, inks, substrates, and press accessories in a designated area. Staging a garment job allows you to move bottlenecks, point out capacity shortfalls, check job components for process control, plan rather than react, shorten press-changeover times, and destage.
It may sound crazy, but having a bottleneck isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you can choose where it occurs. There will always be a bottleneck in any workflow. It’s the step in the process that limits the amount of finished product—in this case, printed garments—that can be manufactured in a given time frame.
The press is usually the most critical piece of equipment for screen printers, and this is where you want to have a bottleneck. For example, if you have a prepress department that can produce more than enough finished screens for your presses, then the bottlenecks is at the press. The press is the one piece of equipment in the shop that produces decorated garments that can be shipped and invoiced. If the press runs at full capacity, you will make more money than if the press runs only part of the time. None of the other departments can claim to produce finished goods that immediately available to increase cash flow.
There are different approaches to moving and controlling a bottleneck. Sometimes, adding a shift to a particular department will suffice. Other times, additional personnel, equipment, space, or all three become necessary. The decision is based on the amount of additional capacity you need and how long you need it.
A staging system, when properly carried out, allows one production run to leapfrog another in a set time schedule without an impact on press downtime. It keeps the presses running when a screen breaks or other unscheduled interruptions occur.
A working staging system is the only way to obtain efficiency when there is production imbalance between departments. It smoothes the production peaks and valleys of the supporting organizations and ensures the opportunity to use each press to its fullest capacity at all times.
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