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Polishing Production for Greater Profit

(July 2003) posted on Tue Aug 12, 2003

Create a larger and more immediate impact on the bottom line by focusing on optimizing your current processes and procedures.

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By Carol Swift, Peter Kiddell

As with many situations in life, screen-printing businesses need to look inwards to achieve the greatest gains. A company is just like a living organism--it develops patterns of behavior, some of which are good, others that are bad. By contemplating how all the systems in your organization work individually and together, you can start to make adjustments that will lead to real gains in profitability. And you don't have to be an accountant to do it. All you need is eyes, ears, experience, willingness to suspend judgement and remain objective, and the ability to regularly ask the question "Why?" Oh, and one more thing--never make assumptions.

The goal in this exercise is to consider small modifications you can make to systems, procedures, and workflows, enhancing work methods and conditions to improve efficiency, which will translate into increased profits. For example, if your typical reject rate is 5% of your output, and you reduce rejects to 4%, you've just improved your reject rate by 20%. Focusing on these sorts of improvements add up quickly in savings and, inevitably, profits.

To find opportunities for improving your business, start by booking a day off. On this day, you are not available. Switch off your mobile phone, and give instructions to the receptionist that you are not to be contacted. Then go into work.

Start to walk the floor of your operation. Begin in shipping and continue through to finishing and production into art and order collection. Include all departments, except the commercial sections of sales and administration. They will be left for another day. You will see the process in reverse, which will make you less likely to be caught up in the flow of assumptions that you make daily.

You will take notes throughout your journey as you look, question, and listen. Your aim is to discover leaks in the production pipeline. Don't expect to find areas where profits are being drained in a torrent; instead, focus on the cracks and drips that are incurring extra costs and reducing your margins of productivity and efficiency.


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