Benchmarking Productivity -- Pursuing Profitable Pressrooms
With intense price competition eroding the profits generated by recent sales growth, many firms are scrambling to maintain and increase profits. One time-proven method of helping the bottom line is to make sure your pressroom is operating at peak efficiency. Minimizing waste, spoilage and production downtime, while simultaneously maximizing run speeds, are a requisite for profitability in any sheetfed shop.
PIA/GATF is currently helping sheetfed printers improve productivity by releasing a productivity benchmarks report that will allow them to compare their operations against similar firms, as well as productivity leaders.
An important indicator of productivity are run speeds (total impressions for a particular job divided by the total amount of time required to complete the job). According to preliminary results from PIA/GATF's current survey, sheetfed run speeds vary significantly from job to job based on the size of the job and the number of colors used. Median run speeds ranged from 325 impressions per hour (iph) for a process color, short-run job (under 1,500 total impressions) to 5,105 iph for a one-color, long-run job (more than 20,000 total impressions).
Median Run Speeds
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Run lengths have remained constant over the past few years, while run speeds have been gradually declining. Median run speeds in 2004 declined by an average of 5 percent across the board from 2002, and declined by an average of more than 10 percent from 2000 figures. This decline can be attributed to the increased complexity of the jobs being examined.
Print jobs submitted in 2004, when compared to jobs submitted in 2000 and 2002, typically have more press forms, more colors, heavier ink coverage, more critical registration, as well as more perfecting and/or coatings. The heightened complexity increases the amount of time needed to prepare and properly run the job, thus lowering the total run speed.
Waste Not, Want Not
Similar to run speeds, the amount of planned waste (amount of paper consumed to bring the job up to acceptable quality as a percentage of total paper consumed) and unexpected spoilage (amount of paper lost in production due to quality problems after makeready was completed as a percentage of total paper consumed) vary from job to job based on the run length and number of colors used. Median planned waste for a six-color, very-short-run job (less than 500 impressions) was close to 240 percent and the median amount of unexpected spoilage was 30 percent.
On the other side of the spectrum, the median amount of planned waste for a two-color, longer-run job (more than 10,000 impressions) was just 1.5 percent and the median amount of unexpected spoilage was a mere 0.6 percent.
The median planned waste figures of productivity leaders (firms in the top 25 percent of productivity) were just one-third of the median planned waste figures for the industry as a whole. The differences in planned waste figures were most dramatic for two-color jobs, where the average productivity leader only encountered one-fourth the planned waste that other printers experienced.
Differences are even more evident when examining unexpected spoilage; productivity leaders encountered median spoilage figures that were just 20 percent of what other printers encountered. This indicates that productivity leaders were on average five times more productive than other printers with regard to unexpected spoilage. For six-color jobs, in particular, productivity leaders were almost 10 times as productive as other printers.
Planned waste and unexpected spoilage figures have been declining since 2002 for just about all types of printing. When compared to 2002 waste statistics, planned waste figures for all printers are down by an average of 4.6 percent for jobs of all sizes and colors. Unexpected spoilage figures for all printers experienced a comparable decline of 0.8 percent for all job sizes and colors in comparison to 2002 spoilage statistics.
Productivity leaders—plants already operating at peak efficiency—also improved on waste and spoilage productivity performance from 2002 to 2004. Across the board, average planned waste numbers declined by 0.8 percent from 2002 to 2004 for all jobs generated by productivity leaders. Moreover, during the same time period average unexpected spoilage figures declined by 0.9 percent.
Time Is on Your Side
In addition to minimizing waste and spoilage, sheetfed printers can increase productivity by minimizing non-chargeable time. In 2004, 20 percent of production time for the average sheetfed printer was non-chargeable. This figure has increased slightly over the years since 1999, when non-chargeable time averaged just 16.1 percent of total production time.
For sheetfed printing productivity leaders, approximately 8.2 percent of production time could be classified as non-chargeable. This figure too has increased slightly since 1999 when the average downtime for productivity leaders was under 5 percent.
For most printers, the main sources of non-chargeable time was waiting for press repairs/maintenance and for the production of plates. Together, these two problems were regularly responsible for almost 50 percent of total non-chargeable time. For productivity leaders, the leading sources of non-chargeable time were delays associated with waiting for customer approval and for repairs/maintenance. Combined, these two quandaries accounted for more than 60 percent of the typical productivity leader's downtime.
PIA/GATF is releasing the "2004-05 PIA/GATF Productivity Benchmarks Report for Sheetfed Printers" in the near future. Don't miss your chance to compare your pressroom operations against peers and industry leaders. The report contains comprehensive statistics on job profiles, run speeds, waste and spoilage, as well as non-chargeable time. Detailed tabulations for all respondents and productivity leaders are provided by job type, size of firm and market segment.
To purchase the report, go to the "Bookstore and Products" section of the GAIN Website at www.gain.net and click on the "benchmarking" section in the middle of the page. You can also get a copy of the report by calling the PIA/GATF fulfillment center at (866) 855-4283.