Do You Measure Up? — Dickeson

BUT, ROGER, you said nothing about the need for measuring to control when you said farewell to the database you’d kept for many years for web presses. (Riding Into the Sunset, November, 2005.) I want to protest this oversight! It was your steely-eyed declaration of many years that we had to measure, even when measuring the wrong things, to get control of the web press printing process that kept us going and helped bring us to where we are today.”

OK, Buck Crowley, dear friend and colleague of many years and inventor of the Autocount for web presses, I hear you loud and clear. (Forgive me if I have taken some liberties in paraphrasing your e-mail comments.) I did overlook my oft-repeated metaphor of many years that “Until you measure, you cannot control.” You’re quite right.

If you’re not measuring something there’s no way you can forecast a result of an action and, therefore, control the response. Measuring is the first step—the essential step. We must have that metric. Let’s say it another way: Until you measure something you can’t forecast a result of some action.

Miracle of the Internet! Buck cited me to a couple of URLs I can’t disclose. One was to a camera fixed on a live web press operation. I watched the single operator running a web press, smoothly, not fast, but without stoppages, referring to his control panel for signals.

The other URL was to a camera on the live operator of an envelope inserter. It was more often stopped than running. It was stopped while the operator rushed to fix jams, remove waste, solve problems and get the machine restarted.

Bucking the System

I got Buck’s point in a flash. There were no metrics—no opcodes (operation codes) for the inserter. It was without metrics of any sort—no measurement—no control! Shades of 1980—unbelievable today. The envelope inserter was without any operation codes and, therefore, totally without predictability. Yet there it was. I was seeing it live in February of 2006. Where’s my soapbox of 25 years ago? I’m ready to go again. We just don’t live that way any more. It was like seeing a Model T next to you at a stop light. You’re pleased that it’s still operating, but you certainly wouldn’t want to drive it any distance.

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  • http://BuckCrowley Buck Crowley

    As you may know Roger died shortly after this. We are carrying on the work of developing standards for metrics or “operation codes” for the inserter.
    If you would like to know more, please email me. Thanks