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success story...

Vision in Print Masterclass

We don't usually look at branded services in the Survival Guide. But Vision in Print's Masterclass is unique. A package of practical efficiency measures focused around a key business area, it's helped many printers save millions of pounds

One of these was a general commercial printer based in the Midlands. It employs just over 60 people and has an annual turnover of nearly £4m derived from a mix of offset and digital presses.

A businessman from outside the print industry bought the company at a time when margins in general commercial print were about to take a nose-dive. Seeing the return on his investment about to hit the floor, he came across an advertisement for Vision in Print in a trade magazine and recognised a potential solution. 

More margin for profit
"We were producing far too much waste," he says. "I don't just mean waste paper and spoilage sheets. I mean wasted time, wasted effort and wasted overheads. I knew that if we could trim back, we'd have more margin for profit." He called Vision in Print and signed up for a Snapshot, sponsored by Howard Smith Paper Group - a process audit that identifies key problem areas. 

The Snapshot identified a key problem area of wasteful operating techniques on the company's sheetfed offset presses. The printer signed up for the ViP Masterclass, enrolling eight staff from management, shop floor and business planning areas. 

We were producing far too much waste - wasted time, wasted effort and wasted overheads. I knew that if we could trim back, we'd have more margin for profit.


The first stage of working with the ViP engineers was to film and time a press makeready. Analysis revealed some areas where best practice could be used. The staff wrote and tested a new makeready checklist that was rolled out across the company. This cutmakeready times by 22%, "which was good, more than we'd expected," said the MD. 

Visual matrix for overs
Next in the waste reduction checklist was 'overs': the company found it was printing up to 20% extra on each job, according to the subsequent finishing processes that the job would need. The team developed a visual matrix to help safely reduce overs at each stage of the post-press production chain. This reduced the company's average overs production by 7.2%. 

The final waste reduction measure was to increase the running speed of the presses, as a result of analysing the quality of consumables used on the press. A change of supplier and an increase in spend of just 4% on consumables resulted in an increase in the running speed of the presses, reducing performance loss from 33% to just 10%. 

For the MD, the key benefit of the Masterclass has been the enduring nature of the collaborative spirit that it put in place. "We are still making improvements now, and still seeing the benefits of our original investment," he says. 

what is...

Vision in Print Masterclass?

The Masterclass is all about making the most of your staff, your equipment and your fixed cost overheads, says Matthew Peacock of Vision in Print

  • The Masterclass typically follows on from an efficiency audit carried out by Vision in Print, known as a Snapshot, which identifies areas for improvement 
  • The process takes 14 days, which take place over a period of months, with hands-on work followed by periods of weeks in which the learning is put into practice 
  • An initial consultation day is followed by a management awareness day, vital to secure buy-in from managers. Then follows a three-day diagnostic phase. A one-day visit completes the groundwork. Then there follows a five-day practical workshop and three follow-up one-day visits to ensure your team is still focused on sustainable improvement 
  • ViP process improvement engineers coach a team of around 10 people, usually comprising a mix of management and shop floor personnel 
  • What to focus on? It's up to the printing company. Previously, ViP engineers have tackled areas as broad as improving makeready times - at Polestar Colchester makereadies were improved by 20% which saved the company £200,000 a year - or decreasing waste and downtime, or improving a bindery's working environment, or even a focus on a key machine such as a press or a perfect binder 
  • These days, as much as 30% of ViP's process improvement work focuses on improving office and administrative processes
PrintSpeak

who can benefit from...

Vision in Print Masterclass?

A surprising amount of profit is hidden in your company's processes - and a ViP Masterclass can reveal it

  • While any printer can benefit from the Masterclass's combination of lean techniques, best practice and process improvement, the Masterclass itself will most benefit print companies with over 100 employees in the commercial, newspaper or packaging sector
  • Companies that have made a recent key investment in a particular piece of equipment can particularly benefit, as a Masterclass can help that kit to run at peak efficiency, thereby optimising its contribution to the balance sheet
  • Companies who want to engage and motivate staff can also benefit - the Masterclass programme is designed to empower staff to understand their contribution to profitability and to promote a spirit of teamwork
  • Companies that need to maximise profitability can benefit. One Edinburgh-based printer said: "Get the sequence right and you could get a step change as opposed to a small improvement. We have seen a £330,000+ increase in added value." 
Email Key Factors...
Karen Charlesworth

Welcome to the PrintSpeak Printers' Survival Guide - helping you to ride out the recession

The pages of the printing trade press have recently read like a Domesday roll-call of print's great and formerly glorious. Who could have predicted the failure of Borcombe SP, Kelvin Print Group, Quebecor, Capital, Printhaus, Butler and Tanner, Celloglas and more? With margins on print lower than they've ever been, the current global economic crisis is magnifying the cracks in every print business model.

But for every bad news story, there are plenty of success stories. Here at PrintSpeak, we decided to pull together a weekly newsletter looking at printers who recently hit a sticky patch - and what pulled them through. We hope it will provide our readers with food for thought. A struggling business is not necessarily a failing one - and knowing who to call is half the battle. In the coming weeks we'll be looking at subjects including factoring, debt collection, credit management, VIAMBOs, cost rate reviewing, credit insurance, financial restructuring and more - building a library of business know-how and giving you the contacts and knowledge to ride out the recession.

Karen Charlesworth
Publisher, PrintSpeak
karen@printspeak.co.uk

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