We all have the same 24 hours a day to work with. No more, no less. So why do some people always seem to get more done?
Here's a simple strategy that will boost your bindery or print shop productivity. Most printers are pretty good at scheduling. When there's work in the shop, it's scheduled and prioritized. So far, so good. When we are busy it often seems that we will never get a break. Then when it slows down our natural response is to relax a bit and finally take that break.
Make a Plan for Staff Downtime
However, this is valuable time that should not be wasted. According to Kevin Carey of DieInfo Inc., "The problem is few companies plan for these periods and as a result, this valuable time is squandered on non-critical activity. Professional companies have contingency plans for slack times and immediately implement a prioritized list of activities and scheduled projects, already allocated to individuals and teams."
The common response to downtime is typically to clean the bindery equipment, sweep the floors, maybe oil something and generally just look busy. While somewhat useful, it's too casual to be a productive use of staff time.
Instead, create a plan of slack time activities that will help to improve production for the next busy time. This can include administrative, production or training activities. Some examples:
Create a list of questions for brainstorming in each department and schedule the sessions
Conduct a tool, parts and supplies inventory
Set up a standard maintenance procedure and schedule
Create standard operating procedures for all processes in the plant
Organize a tool and parts storage system
Inspect and repair equipment
Throw out old knives, worn parts and useless stuff which seems to always accumulate
Cross train staff on different equipment and in different departments
Conduct departmental training
There is no limit to the list of activities. The important thing is to pre-plan for the down time with a prioritized list on display for each department. When it slows down, each employee goes right to the list of clearly defined duties and responsibilities—no discussion, no unnecessary dialog.