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Boosting productivity in the pressroom

Dec 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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All printing companies have different equipment of various ages. This makes target numbers very difficult to write about. With that said, there are definitely ways to improve productivity in YOUR pressroom.

Benchmark your presses. Pick a job or type of job that you print every month, and record the time for every aspect of the makeready and the run. For example, I would suggest you record run speed, run waste, number of trip-offs, number of times the press had to be stopped for blanket washes, blanket smashes, hickeys, etc. Record the reasons for every stop and time. Look not only at time but also paper waste and materials used. You need to benchmark every shift and drill down to every press operator. Now you have established a baseline from which we can measure improvement.

Clean up your pressroom. Put in a 5S program and do all five of the steps. Before you start this, clean up your own office. You need to set the example.

Ask the equipment manufacturer to inspect and fix anything wrong on the press. Yes, it costs money. But do you want to have a press that has worn or broken parts? Now, measure your productivity again. Put on that job you print each month and do the measurements again. You should see a marked improvement.

Involve your people. They do have ideas and suggestions. Listen carefully and try to implement their ideas, even if you disagree.

Ensure accountability. What about the employee whose productivity does not improve, even after you've taken all of the previously outlined actions? Consider posting the productivity figures for all to see. Nobody wants to be far off the mark or far lower than anyone else.

Raymond J. Prince is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. He is vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ). Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or e-mail