Over the years, all the gurus in manufacturing and the print industry have preached efficiency. It was all about establishing effective systems to maximize output. Along the way, many in the printing industry, didn’t get the message.
We were a custom manufacturer, because every job was different. Consequently, how could you measure and set standards when every job was unique. And over the years our customers were demanding more and more along with shorter and shorter delivery times. We weren’t manufacturers. We were in the service business.
Then came ISO and then TQM (or was it the other way around?). For most printing companies who dabbled in these management tools, the results were poor. Now we have Lean Manufacturing, and many in the industry still have memories of ISO and TQM; so, they aren’t excited about another “system,” but they need to explore Lean and its concepts.
Why? We’re no longer driving our Dad’s Buick.
If there’s any question of printers being manufacturers, just take a look at today’s automated workflows and pressroom and finishing technologies. Add to that today’s pricing pressures and one quickly comes to the conclusion that we MUST find ways to reduce costs.
Lean Manufacturing can help. And in my mind, the beauty of Lean is that you can adopt the entire Lean process, or you can take bits and pieces which fit your company. So, printers need to stop thinking they’re service providers. Printers are in the manufacturing business and it’s time to get fit, and Lean might be the solution.