Left to right with Linemark Printing’s Speedmaster XL 105: Adam Rutkowski (VP of Operations), Dave Ashton (VP of Sales), Steve Bearden (President), Joe Dodson (Senior Production Manager).
Linemark Printing based in Upper Marlboro, MD is among the vanguard of US printers who are putting the benefits of Heidelberg’s 2012 InterTech Award-winning Prinect Performance Benchmarking to work in their organizations.
Said President Steve Bearden, “We were looking for a way to measure how well we were performing, both in comparison with other firms, as well as internally, within and between shifts.” Equally as important, “We were prepared to take immediate action to improve in areas where we were falling short, down to the operator level.”
For the past six months, the company has been receiving data that compare the performance of its four-year-old Speedmaster XL 105 to that of similar presses operated by other firms in its peer group. This enables Linemark to determine whether that press is operating at, below, or above the average production of other print manufacturers in similar print segments with similarly configured presses.
Prinect Performance Benchmarking analyzes achieved production speeds, waste vs. good sheets, and time efficiency, helping Linemark to understand and identify performance optimization potentials in and around the press.
Knowledge begets quick action
With those data in hand, explained Vice President of Operations Adam Rutkowski, Linemark could readily see that it was performing “less well in some areas than we thought, and better than we thought in others.” The company quickly recognized not only the significance of this information, but also the value of putting it to practical use.
One result of this dynamic was the company’s decision to have its operators complete an online Assessment Evaluation to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and make suggestions for improvement. “We use it as a positive reinforcement tool to stimulate an atmosphere of friendly competition,” Rutkowski said.
The company ramped up quickly, he added, “Because if you want to be competitive in this business, you have to take every opportunity to make your equipment and your staff as capable and efficient as you possibly can.”
Accordingly, Linemark’s management team meets weekly to review and discuss the current results, then shares those results with the entire production team, with the aim of becoming a better company overall. The company also makes its customers aware of this new capability by discussing it during every one of the many plant tours it conducts.
ROI says it all
While Prinect Performance Benchmarking places Linemark’s performance in context with other print manufacturers operating similarly configured presses, the company previously had enlisted Heidelberg’s Print Color Management color consultation program (PCM) to ensure reliable continuous operating performance internally.
“With that effort, we focused on reducing our makeready times and makeready waste,” reported Dave Ashton, Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “As a result, we’ve been able to slash our makereadies on the XL 105 from 45 to 15 minutes, and we’ve gone from 500 sheets to 300 sheets to come up to color. We received a significant return on our investment. Prinect Performance Benchmarking adds a layer of assurance that we are performing with or above our industry peers in every way.”
Linemark Printing is a fast-growing, $20 million commercial printer specializing in rapid project schedules and on-demand production. Markets served include promotional and association work, as well as verticals like healthcare, finance, banking, education, and more. Services range from creative and prepress to offset and digital printing, to bindery and finishing, mailing, database management, and shipping.
Halfway through its free 12-month trial of Prinect Performance Benchmarking, Linemark fully expects to become a paid subscriber in due course. In the meantime, the company is reviewing the metrics and making hay of the valuable information the program has yielded so far.
“We anticipate a very favorable cost-benefit ratio once we’ve completed our analysis,” Ashton said.
OEE methodology yields results
Prinect Performance Benchmarking is a subscription-based application for printers that have adopted lean manufacturing and continuous improvement initiatives based on the concept of Overall Equipment Effectiveness or OEE. This approach has been highly successful for increasing numbers of progressive printers who want—not only to stay in business—but also to sharpen their competitive edge, improve their sustainability, and increase profits.
The cloud-based application enables printers to determine whether their presses are performing below, at, or above the average production of the peer group. Grounded in OEE methodology, the easy-to-use, secure, web-based tool for capturing and analyzing production data is the first and currently the only such tool available to printers.
Because the Prinect Performance Benchmarking application is cloud based, there are no software or hardware components to install or license. All that is required is that the Speedmaster press be configured with a Prinect Press Center operating console running a current version of Speedmaster software, and be connected to Heidelberg’s web-based Remote Service portal. Activation occurs within 24 hours after the application has been submitted.