"I'm a huge Auto-Count supporter," Pilcher confesses. "We tried to push as much of the automation through that process as possible, even with the older presses (two of which have since been replaced). We had the system auto de-accelerate and shut down the presses once it made count.
"No manual counting is great and I'm a firm believer that math works. Before we put in the Auto-Counts, I'd say we were going back on-press one job every two to three weeks for a shorted job form. Ever since, it might be only once every six months that we go back to press due to an unknown shortage."
The printer has extended use of the Auto-Count system into its bindery. This has also enabled it to use the system for distribution of daily work schedules via instant messaging.
Part of the reason for implementing the PrintFlow scheduling component later was that it represented a radical change in thought for the plant, Pilcher says. "We are a production schedule-driven facility; we live and die by it."
Putting Data to Good Use
Freeport Press does a lot of short-run work, completing more than 10,0000 makereadies in 2009. Its scheduler was extremely proficient, even using the home-grown, Excel-based program that the printer ran previously. Implementing PrintFlow, which can dynamically schedule the entire plant based on the production updates fed back upstream, has now freed him to spend about half the day doing Crystal Report writing so the company can capitalize on all of the production data it is receiving.
"Having someone internally who can write your reports is critical. You need a person who can put the data into a form so you can actually make sense out of it," Pilcher says. "It's not like you put the system in and forget about it. If you do it right, it becomes part of your culture and how you do business.