Dickeson–“Ground Truths,” Sound Advice

It never ceases to shock me, for example, that printers store paper supplied by publishers. By and large, publishers appear to have scant regard for low turnover—a costly application of scarce capital resource. They pile up stocks of paper worth millions of dollars in printers’ warehouses.

Printers accept the occupation of scarce and precious warehouse space for this stockpiling—mostly without charge to the publisher—to retain the printing contract. Printers thereby encourage the practice.

Paper manufacturers sell publishers on nightmares of historic scarcities. They disregard the demand imbalances thereby created for themselves. This is all sheer foolishness. It must stop now, Mr. Davis, or electronic screens, without wasteful stockpiles, will eat our lunch!

How shall we shift this industry paradigm? How shall we bring the supply chain for our basic raw material to a semblance of balance?

You’re right about neglect of manufacturing processes, Mr. Davis. We don’t even acknowledge limits to our process capability. We’re politicians. We promise anything—whether we can deliver it or not.

We deal with processes involving three ink colors: cyan, magenta, yellow. Black we toss in for contrast. We can only print a limited spectral range with that limitation—far less than the human eye can distinguish.

Those inks are “filtering” out wavelengths of white in the paper. The properties of the paper define the color response. This is a limitation on our process we must concede honestly. We don’t.

“We can match that lipstick,” we cry. We can’t. We lie. We decline to submit to the capability limitations of our process. Television and our computer screens transmit all their color using red, green and blue phosphors as their process limitation. But the television deception is so ephemeral on a flickering screen that the limitations are not perceptible.

We claim our presses and binders will deliver uniform product. T’ain’t so. They are susceptible to mechanical/chemical fluctuation—another process capability limitation. True? Well why don’t we measure the limitations of mechanical/chemical capability of our process and state them as standards? We must measure first and then accept—or change.

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