Companies from any sector or industry would be able to see major benefits as a result of using lean processing methods in their workplaces.
According to Professor Kevin Cooper from the graphic communication department of the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, US, all firms would be able to make themselves more productive by taking advantage of lean methods.
Speaking to Labels and Labeling, he explained it is a "portable" management technique that could be used by companies in the ink management industry.
"Printers too are driven to look for leaner production methods because of the increasingly competitive conditions facing their industry right now," he said.
Professor Cooper and his colleague Professor Malcolm Keif from California Polytechnic State University have both written extensively on lean processing and how it can be used in a wide range of workplaces.
It was noted by Professor Cooper that there are two main facets to lean processing: continuous improvement and respect for people.
"Both of these are focused on finding ways to create value and to drive waste out of the business," he told the news provider, explaining reducing setup times is a way printers can use lean principles to get ahead of their rivals in the current economic climate.
All firms are always looking for ways they can become more efficient and save money, providing greater value for money to their clients, but it is particularly crucial at the moment due to the dire state of the worldwide economy.
Professor Cooper stated there is a need to keep the focus on providing the customer with good value from the product and this is why lean processing can be such a useful management technique for bosses to introduce into a company.
Flexography, quality management, lean thinking and printed electronics specialist Professor Kief highlighted the fact that a lot of the preparation time is dedicated to colour-matching on press for printing companies and this is an area they should target.
"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," he was quoted as saying, pointing out this can be reduced by adopting lean methods in the workplace.
Printing companies interested in learning about how lean can make a difference for them were told that they have to ensure they take the color-matching process offline if they are to make it a more efficient way of working.
"The printer must aim to get the perfect colour-match on the first attempt after starting up the press," said Professor Keif, noting that a "robust" process is needed in order to ensure colour perfection for clients.
Training is necessary for any companies looking to adopt lean techniques in the workplace, due to the fact the first step towards using them to become more productive and efficient is to achieve a thorough understanding of the concept and how it can be applied.
Bosses can then look to "build teams and empower and manage the workforce" once all the necessary lean processing training has been delivered to members of staff.
It is also important to make sure each and every employee is well drilled on lean techniques and how it is going to make a difference to the company, as if they are not all on board with the plan, it is destined to be a lot less effective.
Professor Keif and Professor Cooper are among the leading experts on how lean processing can benefit companies in the printing sector, as they have co-authored a book focused on lean management issues entitled Setup Reduction for Printers.
Although lean processing is growing in popularity among those businesses trying to find a way to stand out from the crowd and ensure they are as productive and efficient as possible, there are some within industry who have questioned its place in the modern world.
According to a recent report by manufacturing.net, even though waste is known to be an enemy of all companies trying to deliver the best value for money to their clients, some are unsure whether or not lean still has a place in industry in the 21st century.
This is despite the fact that Toyota - which was one of the first big worldwide brands to embrace lean processing on a major scale - recently stated it is continuing with its commitment to lean methods as it battles for a share in the market with fellow Asian car manufacturers such as Kia.
It was pointed out in the report by manufacturing.net that although it can take a while to get to grips with how lean can be applied in a workplace, since it is based on a "relatively simple methodology" it can be easy for staff members to grasp what it is all about.
11th October 2013
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