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Critical Success Factors for the Screen Making Department

(May 2014) posted on Mon May 05, 2014

These five key process areas present opportunities to reduce the price of raw materials and more.


By Mike Ruff

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Verne Harnish, known as “the growth guy” and one of the top business consultants in the world, has a great piece of advice in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. In explaining a principle he calls “The Rule of One equals Three,” he contends that you may have to pay 50-100% more to get the right person for a job, but they will produce three times more than an average candidate. The point he’s making is that price does not equal cost. It’s a principle I’ve seen in watching successful companies grow over the years, and I think it can be applied to every function of a printing company’s workflow.

Perhaps no department better exemplifies this principle in our industry than screenmaking. In this article, I’m going to cover what I call critical success factors, or CSFs, for any screenmaking department. It doesn’t matter whether you are printing for graphics, industrial, textile, or even specialty applications: The individual factors will vary from one shop to the next, but the process of identifying and prioritizing CSFs is the same. These are principles that, if ignored, will cost more than what a typical accounting manager thinks.

Throughout this article, I will be pointing to cost. You will see that I don’t define cost as the price you pay for material, equipment, and labor in your screen department. The real cost is how your screenmaking operation affects the productivity of your plant and the quality of the printed parts that drop off the end of the press. I will point to this reality in each of the five key process areas in any screenmaking department, all of which present opportunities to reduce the price of raw materials, but only at the expense of your true operating costs.

Screen frames
No type of screen frame is the “best,” but some will meet your needs better than others. Some applications have critical registration requirements; some don’t. Some jobs require frames over 12 feet in length, but others used in industrial applications may only be a few inches. So, what are your CSFs in frame selection? It’s a simple matter of selecting the right frame for the application (which may not be the type of frame most commonly used by other shops). You may need several different frame types depending on your requirements and the products you produce.


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