Steckel Printing--Adapting and Innovating
What Steckel employees developed is called the Excel Continuous Quality Improvement Process. Excel works by making each individual a process manager with the responsibility and authority to search for better work solutions in each step of his or her job. When employees have an idea for progress, they present it to the Excel Steering Team.
If the idea is viable, a project team is organized to research it further and, if approved, oversee its implementation.
The project team defines the situation, collects and analyzes data, and collaborates on the best methods to employ. The team continues to meet after the change is in effect to evaluate success and offer continual fine-tuning.
"People are always going to talk about what they do, what works and what doesn't," says Cassandra Ord, a customer service rep at Steckel and a member of the Excel Steering Team. "So why not structure their input to benefit everyone, including our clients?
"And it doesn't really seem to take up that much time. The time is just more focused."
Other employees agree. Lead Estimator Dave Lehr worked on a team addressing pressroom efficiency, the results of which prompted a 75 percent drop in spoilage and thereby made Lehr's task of estimating an easier one. Ord led a team tackling the need for faster die production, and Hilbert found that team's solution to be both economical and efficient.
"This is about knowing that every printing company can buy the equipment, but other companies don't have us—the people who make the difference," Keener says.
"Initial buy-in wasn't immediate," O'Connor notes, "but in three years time the process has been accepted company-wide and proven incredibly worthwhile. We now have an on-time delivery rate of 95 percent, and our rework, more than 4 percent at one point, is now less than 2 percent."