ATLANTIC & HASTINGS PRINTERS -- Ironing Out a Schedule
Another area of growth is what Twilley classifies as corporate fulfillment services, as opposed to consumer fulfillment. “We don’t want to do the latter,” he says. “We have a Web-based system that enables a company’s brokers to order sales literature directly and to manage inventories online.”
The fulfillment system is an extension of Atlantic & Hastings’ Printcafe Hagen OA print management system. “We have moved very aggressively in adopting a computer-based management system as an underpinning for the company,” Twilley says.
“We’re using it to differentiate us in the market. The concept is a hard thing to sell directly but, when properly applied, it shows in your price and service structures.”
The company started down this road two years ago by installing a full-blown Hagen OA package. It recently expanded the system by integrating an add-on software product from Printcafe, what Twilley calls a “dynamic” scheduling solution, Printcafe PrintFlow.
“Our average job is in the low $1,000s, which is still relatively small for our size. As a result, we process a lot of work. That makes it very easy to miss a date and have something fall through the cracks,” Twilley explains. “Properly applied, PrintFlow plugs up lots of holes.”
What makes it a “dynamic” scheduling system is the way the display automatically changes as work gets done on a job, he says. The schedule is updated based on information from the shop-floor data collection system the printer already was using as part of the Hagen OA system. PrintFlow also integrates with other leading print management systems.
PrintFlow has been developed around the Theory of Global Optimization (TGO). Based upon Dr. Eli Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, TGO was adapted specifically for the printing industry by Udi Arieli, Printcafe’s PrintFlow product manager. According to Arieli, the key insight of TGO is that a manufacturing operation is a chain of inter-dependent links, and that only a few constraints control throughput, on-time delivery and cost of the entire manufacturing operation. Recognizing this interdependence helps companies solve complex manufacturing problems and optimize performance of the entire plant.