by Zhenya Dean, Business Analyst, Enfocus
To be able to deduce where productivity and accuracy need a boost, first look at cost of quality. If the cost of quality (CoQ) is not one of the metrics that a print production manager looks at, it’s time to start. Find out how much it costs the business to rerun a job. Obviously, the further into production an upstream error gets, the more costly it becomes. CoQ, when accurately calculated to include manhours, device hours, and materials will provide an eye-opening revelation.
Getting CoQ under control comes down to accuracy and productivity. Accuracy directly affects productivity, both positively and negatively. It’s possible to sacrifice productivity at the cost of accuracy, but high accuracy improves productivity. This balance plays into the CoQ equation, as well, even though it can be more difficult to measure when things are going well.
Factors that degrade productivity
- Mistakes – human and mechanical error
- Inaccuracy - job information and files
- Skill level – staff experience and training
Humans make mistakes. There’s no way around that. The most experienced, reliable person will make a mistake. Expecting people not to error is unrealistic. Machines make mistakes, too. Mechanical failures, chemical imbalances, environmental conditions fluctuate. Maintaining equipment and personnel keeps them in the best condition for accurate productivity.
One of the easiest things to control in the CoQ formula is job file and data accuracy. People can make mistakes and machines can be set up incorrectly when job instructions are unclear just as simply as problems arise when job files are lacking.
Where to put quality control software
- Color management
Investments in prepress software can be very high. There is an array of applications that prepress teams need to do their jobs. The one critical piece is a preflighting tool. They need a reliable solution that inspects files on a granular level for possible downstream issues. In the “old days” prepress talent was firmly planted in experience and skill. There were mountains of things to manually check before passing a file on to proofing and imposition. Today, tools exist to make those checks, fix the issues, and create reports with the click of a button. Get one and use it religiously.
Color management software is another worthwhile investment that should not be overlooked or done without. They cost money. They require training. They are a prerequisite to get anywhere near a G7 objective. Combined with a reputable measuring device, color accuracy is far simpler and more reliable than ever because the software deals with all the complexities.
Imposition software from the top developers borders on artificial intelligence. It’s fast, it’s reliable, it’s automated and it integrates with quoting. Most importantly, it can drive the setup of output and finishing equipment using JDF/XML instructions. Again, good software is expensive. Great software is worth every penny.
In conjunction with JDF instructions, which drastically reduce setup time, presses and bindery equipment are capable of producing books of one. Given the nature of print customer needs via web-to-print and customization, having the ability to efficiently produce one-off jobs is advantageous. Presses have onboard spectrophotometers and control loop software to automatically adjust the press for color consistency across a press run. Finishing equipment incorporates barcode readers both for job setup and for quality control.
Repeatable, expected results at press and bindery are a direct result of properly applied software. Accurate job information and job files bring the cost of quality down dramatically. When calculating ROI, always consider the effect that a smart software choice will have, not only by reducing production costs but by helping to get CoQ under control.