Screen Printing - June/July 2016 - (Page 12)

E XPERT A P PA R E L EXPERT APPAREL PRODUCTION: TORTOISE OR HARE? M any of you know the old fable, "The Tortoise and the Hare." It's a very old story that has been retold countless times with many different interpretations. The most common version tells the story of a race between a confident, speedy hare and a slow, methodical tortoise. The hare, while very fast, takes his speed for granted and takes a nap during the race, figuring the tortoise is no match and he has all the time in the world. The tortoise, on the other hand, proceeds diligently and in his slow but sure manner, wins the race. For whatever reason, this story has stuck with me. As a textile/apparel screen printer, I side with the tortoise. I know this probably sounds ridiculous in this highly competitive market where speed is pivotal, but hear me out. Yes, the ability to deliver a respectable volume of goods is critical. Unless you're blessed with customers who love to pay double the going rate, then you cannot make money with an automatic press that only produces 150 shirts per hour. A shop with more of a hare's mentality might consistently yield 500 or more quality shirts per hour from an automatic press, and that's easy to like. But the race is not merely about press speed - it includes everything that precedes and follows the actual printing. Nailing down these pre- and post-printing systems is where profits are made. If you're one of those rare printers who is continually booked with large jobs that tie up a press day in and day out, then output is understandably your focus and what happens in the rest of your shop might not matter as much. Good for you. However, most printers are faced with a mixed bag of large and small jobs, and their ability to get them through the shop efficiently is critical. The reason I like the tortoise is because he is methodical and never stops. He also keeps on the shortest route. This is the mindset I've taken with my own employees over the years as well as with the companies with which I've consulted. But I've come to understand that in successful printing businesses, you'll find a mix of tortoises and hares. The hares in your organization are usually the press operators, but they're only as good as the systems that feed them. Yielding 750 shirts per hour when the press is humming is meaningless if he or she stands around for a half hour between orders checking their Facebook messages, waiting for screens and shirts for the next job to arrive. (If they're checking Facebook at all, of course that's a problem in itself.) 12 SCREENPRINTING Tom Vann has been in the imprinted sportswear and promotional products business since 1987, when he founded the company now known as Target Decorated Apparel in his parents' basement. In 2009, Vann formed Tommy's T-Shirt Factory with his wife, Ellen, providing contract screen printing, digital printing, and embroidery from three production facilities across the country. He also consults for printers on subjects such as efficiency and process-color printing. Ideally, your press operators should be setting up the next job immediately without missing a beat. Who's the tortoise? You, the owner or production manager. Relying solely on fast press operators is fool's gold. If your entire system is not running like clockwork, you are losing precious time. Your job is to make sure the rest of your operation runs as efficiently. I recommend starting by spending a day or two in production, hands off, evaluating your team. How long does it take to set up a job? What about different types of jobs, like a one-color versus a six-color run? How much time is spent reviewing the work order? How often does the press stop to clean a screen, fix registration, or add ink? How often does a job stop because a screen needs to be remade, and how long is the press down when this happens? When the job is done printing, how long before the staff completes packing and teardown? How long before shirts, inks, and screens arrive for the next job? Document all of this. What I often see in shops is a lot of misguided talent losing precious time. Add up 15 minutes waiting for materials, 45 minutes to set up a four-color job, 15 minutes of downtime waiting for a print to be approved, and 15 minutes to complete packing and tear down the job. That's an hour and a half that your press wasn't making money. Now let's assume the operator is swift and yields 500 shirts per hour (stops included) and the order is for 500 shirts. With 90 minutes of press downtime, the order took Antonio Jorge Nunes / Tom Vann

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - June/July 2016

Screen Printing - June/July 2016
Editorial Insights
Pressing Issues
Industrial Printer Expands with Inkjet
Production: Tortoise or Hare?
New Products
What’s Next for Single-Pass Inkjets?
DTG: Life in the Fast Lane
DTG Sourcelist
Distributor/Dealer Directory
Classifieds/Ad Index
Print, Flash, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Screen Printing - June/July 2016