CTP--New Tools, Old Theories
Let's look at two examples. Some companies have very expensive digital proofers (about $100,000). If you look just at the utilization, it could be very low. Performing the math you find that your $100K proofer is used only eight hours a day in a two-shift shop (16 hours), resulting in a 50-percent utilization rate. Does that mean you should get rid of the equipment? What if one of the critical value-added services is based on digital proofing?
Digital proofing may be the only way to proof pages that are used with your computer-to-plate or direct-to-press equipment. Based on utilization theory, you might consider selling it. However, selling it would make it impossible to sell the added value of your digital printing service.
On the other hand, you may be considering the purchase of preflighting software. Performing research, you discover preflight is only performed eight hours a day, which, in a three-shift operation, results in a 30-percent utilization rate. Based on utilization theories, you may conclude that preflight software is not warranted.
However, what if preflight software helped you establish faster preflight? What if by using preflight software, you could preflight files and call customers back within four hours? What if one of the reasons customers preferred working with your company is that you got back to them sooner than anyone else? Fast feedback is a significant value-added service.
Theory of Constraint
The "Theory of Constraint" is a formal management philosophy that has emerged from books written by Eli Goldratt, in particular "The Goal." It contains many management ideas but, for this article, we will focus on the impact of bottlenecks and a strategy to synchronize manufacturing known as the "drum-rope-barrel theory."
This strategy discusses shutting down a resource when it adds to a bottleneck or exceeds the output of the bottleneck. A bottleneck is a place where demand exceeds capacity. Demand is how much work needs to be done. Capacity is how much work can be done. A resource is something that helps in the creation of the final product, which could be either a piece of equipment or a staff member.