Davis describes how process standardization can help your garment-printing operation survive dramatic shifts in the marketplace.
Many shops shoot to limit press downtime for automatics to 45 minutes, from the moment the last garment is printed on an order to the first sellable print unloaded for the next order. This time limitation can vary based on the number of colors and type of press (manual or automatic). Also keep in mind that accurate garment counting is another process that must be standardized to minimize downtime. As soon as the count is confirmed, the job responsibilities would be as follows. The press operator should check the work order and confirm the design, garment style and color, and screens and inks for accuracy. The operator can then start setting the screens in the press and registering the screens.
The assistant press operator removes the old screens from the press and places any residual ink into containers (while the press operator checks the production order) and returns the inks to the ink department and the used screens to the screen-cleaning area. The assistant then returns the dirty squeegees and floodbars to the to cleaning area and returns to the press to assist with the setup of the next job.
The dryer catcher finishes up the unloading of the goods to be sent to either the packing or shipping area. The catcher also completes the paperwork and forwards it to the next appropriate department. Finally, the catcher returns to the press to assist in any remaining setup task that may be required.
The registration devices available today allow garment screen printers to easily set up their automatic or manual presses in 45 minutes or less. Also keep in mind that no standardized process can be successful unless the supporting functions are also standardized and running smoothly. Those support areas include inventory management, ink room, dryer catching, supply processes, and equipment maintenance.
A fat marketplace has made it too easy for many garment screen printers to get by without standard operating procedures. Now that the garment-printing market has changed and become much more competitive, the standardization of processes within each area of the shop can really make the difference between surviving or perishing.
Rick Davis is the president of Synergy Screen Printing in Orlando, FL. A 27-year veteran of the textile-printing industry, Davis is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology and has a background that spans production management, artwork engineering, application testing, and industry consulting. He is a frequent contributor to trade publications and a speaker at industry trade events.
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