Written by Jo Oliphant
Manager, Continuous Feed Europe
Xerox Corporation

Productive Print ShopWhen thinking about your business, if you ask yourself the question “how efficient is my business?”, what response would you give? There’s a reasonable chance it falls into one of three (or maybe four) categories…:

  • Its XX% efficient, and we’re on a track to drive that to XX% over the coming months by doing X, Y and Z
  • I need to ask the Production Manager
  • What do you mean by how efficient?
  • 100% efficient, as always (this was the 4th one and I have heard it played back to me countless times…)

There’s a relatively simple way of expressing the efficiency of the business, and that’s by looking at the total time available per year and then dividing into it the actual production hours.

If we step down a notch from a complete business and perhaps look at something like a printing press, then we can get a little closer to how this works. The entire years availability is 365 days (leap years excluded) or 8,760 hours. Take a print shop where the shop is open from 7am to 7pm, 5 days per week, or 60 hours. Take that over 52 weeks and we get 3,120 hours of possible availability. If the press was 100% efficient, then the Overall Equipment Efficiency, (OEE) value would be 35.6%.

Most printing presses I know need some time each day for operator maintenance, loading paper, changing plates, submitting new jobs and various other tasks. Occasionally a press will need some down time for maintenance too – so even the 35.6% is optimistic! In fact, one of the biggest impacts to the OEE value is the unexpected catastrophic stop, mostly because it’s just that…unexpected.

If you think about this further, it becomes pretty much impossible to hit 100% efficiency unless you have a machine that never misses a beat, and well, they’re fairly rare because invariably humans are involved and aren’t quite so efficient. That said, it is possible through a variety of techniques to improve the OEE of your business. And while we can’t prevent the unexpected stops from happening, we can begin to anticipate when they might happen and maybe reduce the somewhat large troughs in productivity that can and do occur (and usually at the wrong moment).

Now you’re probably thinking, “is that possible?” So, let’s take a situation that might occur in a print shop; think of a press running, the operator hears an unusual noise coming from the machine and it continues to run without any defects to the prints themselves. The noise isn’t so severe that it sounds like the equipment is in its death throws, meaning the operator is presented with three courses of action:

  • Do nothing
  • Call for maintenance
  • Note where the noise was, when it occurred, what jobs were running at the time and tell the service engineer the next time he visits.

Which one do you think has the least impact on productivity?

Of course it’s the last one, because we don’t want to take the press out of production unless we really have to, however, we do want the service engineer to proactively inspect that area in an attempt to anticipate the failure. It could even be that the engineer knows what is going to fail, but doesn’t actually replace it at this service event while proactively ordering a component to replace at the next visit.

Coming back to my original question:

“How efficient is your business”?  Are you interested in understanding how it might be improved?

We just might have some answers for you…

With Hunkeler Innovationdays fast approaching, Xerox will be helping customers answer these questions and many more. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay up-to-date on the latest news, as well as follow the conversation using #XeroxHunkeler on Twitter.

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