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Implementing Changes in Production without Creating Chaos

(December 2008) posted on Wed Dec 03, 2008

This month, Roberts offers some non-threatening strategies and solutions that new managers can use to implement necessary changes throughout the shop.

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Once you have established your management style as one of constant improvement, it will start to become a natural part of the daily work cycle and hopefully filter down to the people that you guide. A good rule to follow is never go home at night without knowing that you have implemented at least one well-planned, non-disruptive improvement somewhere in your workplace. Often, you can get lost in the day-to-day details, but if you follow the logic of this rule you’ll soon find that, over a period of time, you’ll accomplish far more than you thought was possible.


Information is the key to success

I am amazed at the number of shops I visit where little or no production control exists. Can you tell me right now where every job on your schedule is at this moment and where it will be precisely at this time tomorrow? If you can’t do this, you can’t do your job. Computer scheduling programs can help you gain production control, using bar code scans and other features.

These days, it’s possible to have operators enter information into a computer at the beginning and end of every process and update a database in real time. It’s simple but very effective. If you don’t have a production schedule running and updating for you every day, then you need to get one. In a small shop, a production schedule can be as simple as a clipboard placed at every workstation, where operators enter start and finish times. You can collect the information several times a day and enter it into an Excel spreadsheet. In a larger shop, you will have to decide whether it is worthwhile to spring for a commercially available program. Whatever you decide, you need to have this information on hand at all times to minimize any surprises that will steer you away from your main focus.

In my next column, I’ll discuss how to find and implement improvements that will bring the biggest returns in the shortest time. I will explain what is necessary to have in place before adding new presses and how to use employee incentives correctly to improve production figures without hurting the bottom line. I know it sounds crazy, but let’s look forward to the morning when we walk into our shop and realize that the strange, unfamiliar feeling we experience that day is not panic. It might actually be boredom. You’re right, it’ll never happen, but it’s still nice to dream, isn’t it?


Gordon Roberts has a history in screen-printing production management that spans more than 25 years. He has held supervisory positions in shops that represent a broad spectrum of application areas and markets, including printed electronics, apparel, signage, and retail graphics. Roberts has presented training courses on the basics of screen-printing production and on shop management for the Screentech Institute and is presently a consultant for the screen industry. He can be reached at 





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