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The Road to Automation
A word about the JDF Hype
Production Management Software 1

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In Scope Solutions, Inc. offers a variety of Consulting Services to help you grow your business, increase you productivity and reduce the time you need to spend in the office. We can help you achieve the state where you can focus on running and growing your business as opposed to fighting fires and doing the work yourself. From overhead reduction through employee training to IT Management services. We use tried and true methods to save you time, effort and money. Contact us and Give us a try.
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Printing Industry Articles:
The Road to Automation - Is 0-100 the Only Way?
by Wolfgang Blauen
A Better Way

Moving to an automated production environment can and often should be a long-term plan. The methodical approach is to follow some simple rules and the 6 steps outlined below:

  1. Analyze first
    A thorough analysis determines the benefit of spending the time, effort and money to transform your shop.  
             Ask yourself:

    • What typically goes wrong in my shop and why? 

    • How much does it cost when things go wrong? 

    • Is there any way to keep things from going wrong?

  2. Build workflow models
    Creating models that visualize the flow of work throughout your production capabilities helps identify dependencies and possible bottlenecks.  Use these models to make good decisions and prioritize investments.
    To start, simply identify the key processes in your environment and document them. Then map them to a floor plan of your production environment. Is the flow straight forward or does it look more like a plate of spaghetti? Are steps repeated? Are there too many staging areas? How many times is material moved during the production process? How many people are involved in the process? There are many more questions to ask and you'd be surprised how "lean" your production can become even without heavy use of technology.

  3. Sell the solution to your employees
    New solutions mean change.  Communicate early and often about the new directions and make sure employees understand the impact.  Ask for their participation in decisions and implementations where possible.  Without involvement, employees can and will subvert the new directions. Give your employees the feeling of ownership in the solution by asking for their views and their input but don't let them direct the activities. You set the goals and they help you get there.

  4. Computerize in phases
    Not everything has to or can be computerized immediately. Starting with the Management layer may be more beneficial than initially investing in equipment integration tools. Slowly grow the skill set needed to operate the new environment.
    An IT budget helps you plan when to install or replace a piece of hardware and/or software and spread the investment over multiple years.  Remember, IT components become production equipment and will be critical to the function of your operation. Don't underestimate the importance of a stable and scalable computer infrastructure (Refer to "Information Technology Digest" for more information)

  5. Collect data
    Develop and implement data collection methods.  Use the data to adjust your investment strategy as you go. Not only production data of daily output is important. Try to establish as complete a picture as possible. Your intension for every step of the deployment of any new piece of process or technology must be to set expectation and be able to verify that the solutions meets (or exceeds) these expectations. Apply the principal "You can't manage what you can't measure". Be aware of the benefit of your decisions and investments and how they impact the day-to-day activities and productivity.

  6. Integrate components
    Once you have “islands” of computerized solutions working reliably and productively, integrate them into an end-to-end solution.  This is where JDF as a data exchange standard brings real value because it normalizes the communication between the devices to a common "language". 

(read on ...) 

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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