Reducing Costs Is Theme of Continuous Improvement Network Conference
Thursday, October 18, 2001
Pittsburgh, Pa., October 11, 2001 — The economic slow-down is presenting printers with an opportunity to re-evaluate operations and implement cost saving techniques. That’s the message at the 13th annual Continuous Improvement Network (CIN) conference sponsored by the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF). The theme "Driving Down Costs through Process Improvement" will be explored February 17–20, 2002 at the Monteleone Hotel in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The CIN conference provides a forum for the exchange of information about the use of quality management concepts, philosophies, and tools in the printing industry. Each year experts present a dozen case studies to share practical experiences in implementing these types of programs. "Over the past few years most companies were so busy that they had little time to make improvements. Now we should be preparing for the next boom economy," says Gary Conner, president of Lean Enterprise Training and author of the best-selling book Lean Manufacturing for the Small Shop. Presenting "Becoming Lean: How to Apply Lean Manufacturing Strategies," Conner will be one of two speakers focusing on "lean manufacturing." He continues, "I am not talking about buying new buildings or new equipment, but rather investing in employees and in improving the manufacturing process." Lean manufacturing, defined most simply, is getting more done with less, namely less waste. Originally intended for assembly operations, it can be more challenging to apply with a make-to-order manufacturing environment since these organizations need to retain their ability to respond quickly to the dynamics of their customers unique order patterns. The fundamental tools associated with lean manufacturing have shown remarkable results with companies, regardless of size, location, or customer ordering patterns. As customers become more and more demanding in regard to shorter lead times, smaller orders, and reduced product life cycles, Conner states that any "job shop" could benefit by incorporating a few key techniques. He suggests setup reduction, machine reliability and capability gains, cross training, workplace organization, teamwork training, standard work definition, and materials handling improvements. By taking time to learn and apply these tools, companies can shorten lead-times, reduce inventory, increase productivity and employee morale, and decrease material handling. Other keynote presentations will include "Determining a Printing Company’s Cost of Poor Quality" by Daniel Hanson, vice president and general manager, Branch-Smith Printing, Fort Worth, Texas. Founded in 1910, this commercial printer won the 1999 Texas Quality Award. In the past three years, Hanson has led the company through a technology upgrade and facilities expansion that has included moving to a 100 percent CTP workflow and the addition of two eight-color perfecting presses. Presenting actual case studies, Hanson will help attendees identify quality gaps in their system and how to bridge those gaps in a way that owners and top management will appreciate—by understanding the financial side of quality. For a fourth year, CIN will bring back expert John Compton, vice president of quality for Fort Dearborn Company in Niles, Illinois—this time to present "Driving Out Costs, Not People." As the competition gets tougher and the economy gets tighter there is tremendous pressure on companies in the printing industry to improve quality while decreasing costs and increasing work output. The goal is to find the waste, get it out, and keep it gone. "But, how do we do this without blaming our workers?" Compton asks. "Human error is a fact of life, but the way we respond can have a profound impact on the ability of a company to improve." This presentation will provide a framework for quality improvement and root cause analysis that focuses on processes and systems, not people. "The 2002 conference was planned to provide printing executives and quality managers with improvement ideas to reduce cost in the face of slower economic growth," says Jennifer Snider, president of the conference advisory board. Snider, also the quality and training director for Wikoff Color in Fort Mill, South Carolina, confidently states, "If you don’t take home several ideas for process improvement that when implemented will more than pay for your investment in attending, your entire registration fee will be refunded." Registration to the conference is $695 ($595 for GATF/PIA members). All companies can receive a $100 discount on their second registrant. Additionally, all people who register before December 15 can chose to receive a complimentary copy of one of three popular quality books: Lean Thinking (Womack and Hones), Six Sigma Revolution (Eckes), or SPC Simplified: Practical Steps to Quality (Amsden, Butler, and Amsden). To obtain a free brochure detailing the conference or a registration form, call the GATF/PIA fax-on-demand line at 888/272-3329 and request document number 13003. To register online visit www.gain.net and choose PIA/GATF and Technical Training.