Two senior academics and specialists in lean management workflows, Prof. Malcolm Keif and Prof. Kevin Cooper provided advice for packaging printers on how to drive waste from the workflow and adopt lean production methods during a seminar held at the drupa stand of GSE Dispensing.
Prof. Keif and Prof. Cooper, from the Graphic Communication Department of the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, USA , have researched and published extensively on lean management.
Professor Cooper, a professor of graphic communication, said: "We think lean management is portable and applicable to every industry. Printers too are driven to look for leaner production methods because of the increasingly competitive conditions facing their industry right now."
"Lean management is principled on two foundational items: continuous improvement and respect for people,” Cooper added. “Both of these are focused on finding ways to create value and to drive waste out of the business. To make printers more competitive at a time when printing runs are getting shorter, we think it is critical to adopt lean principles, reduce setup times and be focused on customer value, to remain competitive in printing."
Malcolm Keif, who specialises in flexography, quality management, lean thinking and printed electronics, explained that good colour management has an important role to play in the lean manufacturing environment: "So much of the preparation time is dedicated to colour-matching on press. We know of job changeovers taking over an hour because of the efforts needed for ink toning and getting the right match for a spot colour. It is impossible to maintain a lean environment unless one takes the colour-matching process off-line. The printer must aim to get the perfect colour-match on the first attempt after starting up the press. A robust process is needed to ensure colour perfection. GSE Dispensing brings that to the table with its dispensing systems, ink management software and proofing systems."
Prof. Cooper added: “The first stage in the adoption of a lean process is education because one has to understand the concept first, build teams, and empower and manage the workforce.”
Keif and Cooper, who have both worked in the graphics industry for over 20 years, have co-authored a book focused on lean management issues entitled ’Setup Reduction for Printers’.
Maarten Hummelen, marketing director at GSE Dispensing, comments: “The high level of competition, volatile raw materials prices and shorter production runs make the search for added value more acute than ever. Packaging print converters must adopt a lean management philosophy to combat these challenges. We share Prof. Keif and Prof. Cooper’s vision of a lean value chain. Everything we do is aimed at empowering printers to apply that vision in an ink logistics context as well.”
GSE Dispensing helps packaging printers reduce ink waste from the workflow with gravimetric ink dispensing systems that mix spot colours in less than three minutes, table-top flexo proofing systems and software that provides per-job ink costings, real-time stock analysis, tracking of all inks to original batches and various management reports.