The challenging economy was the backdrop for a recent workshop on lean manufacturing concepts attended by more than 35 members of the Xerox Premier Partners Global Network. By using lean techniques to eliminate waste and optimize performance, print providers can gain efficiencies that boost profitability, a promising proposition in the lean economy, said Ken Rizzo, director, Technical and Lean Services, Printing Industries of America, who led the workshop.
“When I talk about lean, it’s about looking at a perfect world,” Rizzo said in kicking off the “Demystifying Lean Manufacturing for Those Who Print for Pay” workshop. “You may never get there, but lean engages you in a process of continuous improvement that drives you towards that.” He went on to describe the basic concepts and tools in lean’s systematic approach to eliminating waste – then led an interactive exercise that simulated a lean initiative.
The session included a panel of Xerox Premier Partners, a global network of leading Xerox-equipped print providers, who have had success deploying lean techniques. Patrick Jayne, chief executive officer, Digital Quickcolor, Charlotte, N.C., reported a 39 percent improvement in performance, an eight percent reduction in paper costs and a 10 percent improvement in turnaround from a lean initiative the company ran with Xerox. Nearly four years later, Jayne said, “We continue to benefit from it.”
Mercury Print Productions, Rochester, N.Y., has been on a lean path for more than five years, according to panelist Linda Jung, quality manager at Mercury, initially with an external consultant. “We made huge strides the first year, but when the external consultant left, we weren’t able to sustain it,” Jung said. “Now we run it internally, and we’re having a resurgence as lean becomes ingrained in our culture.”
“I’m here to look for tools that can assist the part of our business that needs to improve margins and reduce waste,” said attendee Barry Yarkon, senior vice president, Product Management, HammerIQ, the digital marketing solutions business unit of The Hammer Company, Parsippany, N.J. “We are FSC- and ISO-certified, but we don’t have a robust lean initiative, and obviously that’s going to be more and more important if the economy keeps heading in the direction it’s been.”
Kenneth Brant, research director at Gartner, Inc., responsible for manufacturing industries research, also attended. “Lean manufacturing practices are extremely valuable to commercial printers in this economic environment and may well be a necessity for survival,” he said. “Value stream mapping, kanban, line balancing, overall equipment effectiveness and theory of constraints are among the many concepts that are important to print operations.”
The workshop on lean manufacturing is one in a series of more than 40 Thought Leadership Workshops Xerox runs annually at the Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation on the Xerox campus in Webster, N.Y. Last year, more than 2,500 graphic communications professionals attended these events.
The Xerox Premier Partners Global Network of the world’s leading print providers has about 800 members from 48 countries and is dedicated to developing new business opportunities with digital technologies.