Easy-to-implement strategies can help improve bindery results. Part 1.

As a sales consultant for Muller Martini, I have the opportunity to visit regularly with many different companies in many different locations.  And, that’s allowed me to see that results with the same machine can vary from good to better to best.

As your partner, Muller Martini wants to help you achieve the best results with your print finishing investments.  That’s why I would like to share strategies I’ve seen from binderies that achieved best results. While these strategies may seem obvious, it’s the commitment to their execution which ultimately helps deliver good, better or best results.

1.  Communicate clear goals/expectations.

We all understand the advantages of batching jobs for efficiency gains.  But has Estimating clearly communicated these advantages?  For example, does your job ticket tell the bindery team what the average makeready expectation is on the binder, or what the makeready expectation is for that particular job?  In other words, has Estimating communicated to the Crew Lead that he has a standard 30-minute makeready expectation, or does the Crew Lead clearly know that this changeover is expected to only take 10 minutes because the book format remains the same with only variation to the book’s thickness?  The same came be said about communicating expected run speed. Because of varying stock, book make-up, etc., not all jobs can be produced at high rates of speed. If Estimating has not established clear expectations, don’t expect best results. 

2.  Visibly promote achieved performance versus established goals.

While I have seen elaborate large screen HD displays, one of the most effective ways to show print finishing results is with a simple easel, white board and black, red and green markers.  At the beginning of the shift, the Bindery Manager records the six jobs to be bound by the Day Shift and the five jobs for the Swing Shift. As the day progresses, the Crew Lead fills in the board in real time using the green marker when expectations are met or exceeded, and the red marker if they fall short.  For example:

Day Shift         

# of Jobs Expected Makeready Actual Makeready # of Books Expected Run Speed Actual Run Speed
Job 1 EMR – 30 min AMR – 25 min 5,000 books ERS 5,000 bph = 60 min ARS – 80 min
Job 2 EMR – 10 min AMR – 14 min 2,500 books ERS 5,000 bph = 30 min ARS – 35 min
Job 3 EMR – 15 min AMR – 15 min 10,000 books ERS 7,500 bph = 80 min ARS – 75 min
Job 4 EMR – 12 min AMR 10 min 1,000 books ERS 6,000 bph = 10 min ARS – 10 min
Job 5 EMR – 10 min AMR – 12 min 15,000 books ERS 6,500 bph = 138 min ARS – 130 min
Job 6 EMR – 20 min AMR – 18 min 3,500 books ERS 6,000 bph = 35 min ARS – 32 min
Total EMR – 97 min AMR – 94 min 37,000 books ERS – 541 min. 353 min ARS – 362 min

Swing Shift

Job 1 EMR – 10 min AMR – 5,000 books ERS 5,000 bph = 60 min ARS –
Job 2 EMR – 20 min AMR – 20,000 books ERS 7,000 bph = 170 min ARS –
Job 3 EMR – 15 min AMR – 10,000 books ERS 7,500 bph = 80 min ARS –
Job 4 EMR – 15 min AMR 7,000 books ERS 6,000 bph = 70 min ARS –
Job 5 EMR – 10 min AMR – 1,000 books ERS 6,000 bph = 10 min ARS –
Total EMR –  60 min AMR – 45,000 books ERS –  min. 390 ARS –

With the white board displayed next to the binder, anyone walking by can get a quick snapshot of how production is going.  In the example above, the Day Shift achieved a great day of production versus the communicated expectations. So, when the Swing Shift arrives, they see a predominantly green production board from the Day Shift. This sets the standard as they know they will need to perform well to match or beat the Day Shift’s results. Often this type of visibility results in friendly competition between crews.

3. Evaluate results with regular feedback.

Naturally, this strategy is designed to be a work in progress. Regularly scheduled meetings with Estimating and the Bindery Manager, and the Bindery Manager with the Crew Leads, are paramount. It will take time, patience and understanding to establish achievable expectations. And don’t be afraid to feel some growing pains. Adjust as you go, and your bindery teams will quickly taste success. Track progress, set new goals, offer compliments, and reward with fresh, inventive recognition. (More about ways to do that in another blog.)   Be mindful that if you stop evaluating and rewarding frequently, the program will likely fade.

In summary, for the minimal expense of an easel, white board and markers you can kick this program off.  Start with easy concepts and don’t overcomplicate. Take the time to work together to set and communicate clear expectations, measure success, and reward. Then re-evaluate to establish new goals.  As you go through this exercise, you will become more productive and competitive in your estimating.  Tracking expectations versus actual results will provide valuable information that hopefully earns more business.  Most importantly, have fun with it. 

And, stay tuned for Part 2 which discusses our current Connex 4.0 System.

ConnexInfo 4.0 automatically provides real-time monitoring and reporting statistics for your production lines—making it even easier to track activity.

What ways do you track and measure results within your bindery? Let us know below.

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