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How to Get More from Your Floor

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Find out how shop-floor efficiency can carry your business toward increased profitability.

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By Rick Mandel

Cubicles are acoustic sieves that intrude on your thoughts and conversations. Usually, you can’t see the person in the cube next to you unless you stand up; therefore, you can hear as if the walls were not there but have a tendency to want to see what you hear. The dilemma is the ability to do distraction-free work for teams and individuals versus the ability to have easy, frequent, informal interactions. The answer relates to the personalities of the team. There’s isn’t one answer for every shop, though I believe that our printing business is assisted by the open concept.

Create a physical workflow that mirrors the changes in day-to-day activities that locate critical people within earshot and eyeshot. Classic horizontal layout of admin to sales to customer service to prepress to print to finishing to shipping (Figure 1) leaves gaps in collaboration. Prepress and digital cutting will not interact effectively when the job comes to the shop to figure the best way to layout the finishing system. If the location is close, the operators will not have to make a significant effort to evaluate the methodology. We call it putting two eyes on the file.

The linear structure of the horizontal workflow can morph into a shape that emulates the business units of modern manufacturers. The unit consists of production, sales, and customer service in one location to serve specific clients or business types. The business has multiple teams to manage the workflow that is unique to their talents. And this is our goal, which is to manage the workflow of large-format digital printing. The challenge is to position each person to promote interaction while allowing plenty of space for the large imagery we all produce.


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