How to improve the print process profitably

Issam Luftiya from Baldwin Vision Systems at Shift_019

Issam Luftiya, director of global sales and marketing at Baldwin Vision Systems. Photo PSA

Issam Luftiya, director of global sales and marketing at Baldwin Vision Systems, spoke at the Shift_019 conference on ‘Process improvements – A pathway to profitability.’ Speaking about the key points for a profitable business in terms of quality, profitability, improvements and a defect-free workflow, he suggested the analogy of an airplane flight checklist.

Luftiya started by mentioning the importance of balancing the three aspects for conducting a successful business, “You have to control your costs, increase profitability and grow your business.” He explained that in order to produce a quality product, one needs to ensure fewer defects, which should optimize quality and minimize waste and thus lower the cost of overall production.

Using the analogy of an airline to explain to the audience that before investing in a plane, you need to have the right people for maintenance, cabin crew, investment in spare parts, a quality check team, and airline staff to ensure a good flying experience. Investing in a new technology is no different. The new and sophisticated controls that are meant to make a process better are often defeated because of the inability of operators to decipher the data. When employees are faced with such challenges, they abandon the technology and go back to what they know.

Lutfiya explained that the reason why a technology fails is the same which makes a plane crash. Mostly, it is the minor human errors that add up to the major glitches. The lack of communication between operators, ongoing training, leadership and maintenance, ignoring evolving business needs, failure to make the appropriate buy-ins and when trained employees leave the company to work for competitors are some of the areas that must be looked into. He explained the six sigma process improvement steps to overcome these errors – first, defining the problem in terms of targets such as analyzing why a customer is unhappy and how defective print products passed on to their converting lines resulted in costly rework and loss of customers. Second, measuring the number of jobs with defects, material with defective print and cost of rework. Third, analyzing the type of defects, the reasons behind them and the strategies to avoid them. Fourth, improving operator training, hiring expertise, material substitution, technology, automation and communication. Fifth, controlling baselines, document standards, monitoring progress, minimizing waste and addressing waste.

Another process according to Lutifiya is to recognize the critical defects and identify the root cause of those defects before eliminating them. Inspection systems are a very powerful tool to detect the defects. Another point made by Lutifiya was to ensure that there are absolutely no defects in a printing process. That is where automated inspection systems come handy. Nevertheless, he also pointed out that the inspection systems are only as good as the printers or the operators. In order to get the most out of the technology, one has to close the loop. One must use the data from the print process that helps understand where the defect occured, in which shift and how did that defect turn over to the operators in the next shift.

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  1. Congratulations on a successful project using the OpEx (Operational Excellence) methodology. My comments are limited to the information presented in the article and am open to being corrected.

    There 3 aspects in any process (no matter which process one looks at) – I call them the 3Ds – Defects, Delays, and Deviations.

    In the case of the print packaging it was deviations as in inconsistency due to human errors.

    Most organizations immediately conclude on training people and stick with administrative mistake proofing (mistake proofing is referred to as Poka Yoke, a Japanese term for fail-safe systems), while some delve into cautionary (an alarm or alert when a mistake occurs and yet can be overridden to the next stage) and the best in class choose “Engineered MP,” where it is fail-safe (or sometimes humorously known as fool-proof).

    Unless one recognizes that engineered MP systems is the way to go if you want zero defects.

    Obviously there is an investment and a return model (or payoff time) and each enterprise has to figure out what works for them. In some factories,I have observed where they create a space fo a buffer inventory as in “Just in Case” a defect occurs they can ship successfully and not let it impact the customer the third D, a “Delay.”

    This is a case where deviation occurs and definitely not one where the cause for the defect is unknown. Get Poka Yoked!

    Wishing this team their very best.


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