The Heidelberg Business Consulting team helps printshops sharpen
their competitive edge and boost their profit margins, as potential
savings are often found where you least expect them.
Friedhelm Spohr and Josef Miebach from Moeker Merkur Druck
GmbH & Co. KG are clearly amazed by the results: "We never
thought there was quite so much room for improvement," they said.
Although the management team at this full-service printshop in
Cologne knew that some of the company's processes were not perfect,
they never for a moment thought that optimizing the processes would
raise productivity by 20 percent and cut production costs. "The
potential for increasing productivity is usually much higher than
expected," says Fritz Jaeger, Head of Heidelberg Business
Consulting. A printshop often buys a machine without adapting its
processes accordingly, thus wasting valuable potential to lower
costs or cut throughput times, for example. However, the current
economic situation is encouraging companies to take a new approach.
"Many customers are now optimizing their processes in order to get
ahead once the crisis has passed," reports Jaeger.
Getting Staff on Board
"No one knows the workplace better than the staff
themselves. That's why it's important to integrate them into the
change process - from the initial idea right through to
implementation," emphasizes Jaeger. In this way, they can define
their own day-to-day tasks and standardize their workflows
themselves as part of an improvement process. "Poorly defined
responsibilities and processes that have developed over time are
the main causes of inefficient procedures and time-consuming
decision-making processes between departments," explains Jaeger.
"It is important to define clear, achievable goals and to divide
these into small steps. Immediate signs of success motivate staff
to drive forward further improvements in the long term," he adds.
Pinpointing and Eliminating Weaknesses
The Heidelberg Business Consulting team first takes a
close look at a printshop's business processes before working
together with company representatives to analyze the pinpointed
weaknesses and draw up an action plan with measures for improving
performance. "They determine where it is possible to achieve quick
wins and which processes have to be completely overhauled. "Thanks
to our experience and objectivity, we can take a multi-pronged
approach," explains Jaeger. For example, we can focus on the
information and material flows and logistics processes, analyze the
machinery or job-processing sequence, implement tailor-made
training for the printers and/or standardize the makeready
Continued Improvement in the Long Term
To ensure that the agreed measures really take hold, managers
must lead by example. It is also important to continually measure
results and to inform staff regularly of successes or shortfalls.
"This is the only way to ensure a continuous process of improvement
and to establish a successful corporate culture that lasts,"
The "5 S" method is a first step on the way to sustained
Identify all the objects that are not needed at the workplace
and, after a grace period, either store or dispose of them. For
example, is there any need to store old operating instructions or
faded color swatches in the desk drawer?
Store all materials with a clear structure and in order of
importance (used frequently/infrequently). The outlines on the
"shadow board", for example, show which tools are required at a
machine and, above all, when they are missing.
Keep the workplace clean. A maintenance schedule detailing
minor regular maintenance tasks for each shift increases the
service life of the machine in the long term and reduces the
likelihood of failure.
Make tidiness a rule and document the progress. Clearly
labeled pallet spaces cut search times and reduce the risk of
damage during transportation.
Comply with all four points and seek to continually improve
As a first step for printers looking to improve, Heidelberg
Business Consulting offers a "company barometer" for printshops
that are not sure of the full potential of their business.
Consultants spend a day examining the company's business processes
and drawing up suggestions for improvement that the printshop can
then implement independently and promptly. "We were impressed with
how quickly the consultants pinpointed unproductive processes and
helped us boost performance in the short term with their practical
suggestions for improvement," said the management team of Moeker
For further information:
Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG
Phone: +49 6221 92 4800