South African companies have become increasingly aware of the benefits of introducing Lean Manufacturing procedures and attitudes. Lean is a business strategy whereby all aspects of operating procedures and systems are reviewed and revised, to increase creativity and productivity, yet also reducing waste.
Key Lean Manufacturing researcher, John Krafcik, describes this process as designing processes to “use less of everything compared with mass production. Half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in equipment, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time.”
This worldwide movement has given rise to an understanding of the 8 kinds of waste, and strategies are devised which proactively analyse how these waste factors can be minimised.
Leal Wright of brand visual experts, PFX, claims that “current challenges facing all world economies, and clearly our own in South Africa, demand that new ways of unlocking value, tapping into latent potential and operating sustainably, are thoroughly investigated.”
“At PFX” he continues, “we focus on ensuring that development of branded graphics follows the basic tenants of Lean Manufacturing. It’s an area which doesn’t often receive great scrutiny in a company, yet malfunctions in artwork systems can have huge ramifications down the line.”
Examples that Leal cites include delays due to too many reverts and changes in designs, incorrect placement on dyelines and worksmaps, bottleneck of sign offs by key personnel and ultimately delays at on press approvals. “The greatest wasted cost is then a missed product launch date, and a delayed promotional campaign,” he concludes.
PFX offers a range of services that offer brand owners support in getting their consumer-packaged goods efficiently and cost-effectively to shelf and on time. Chief among these are the automated artwork approval platform, the digital asset library and the product prototype. Stuart Baylis, COO of associate company, Polyflex, explains that the prototype is a contract proof.
“We fingerprint the converters printing press and input the results into our GMG software. This ensures that the colour proof matches the print result at the press.” However, Polyflex then prints the proof onto imported simulated substrates that match the final packaging substrate. “Our skilled staff will make up a final product, complete with folds, gussets, seams and glue lines in the correct place,” explains Stuart. “So the brand owner can inspect and approve the final completed packaging before it even gets to the press”. Changes on press and large volumes of make-ready waste can then be avoided.
Artwork development and printing of packaging now have the tools to contribute to the savings that are realised. As a researcher, John Krafcik comments on the lasting benefits of Lean Manufacturing, “it requires keeping far less than half the needed inventory, resulting in many fewer defects and produces a greater and ever-growing variety of products.”