I was waiting to change flights at the airport a few weeks ago and made an interesting observation. While watching the gate for Southwest Airlines, I noticed that the time from the last passenger departing to the first passenger boarding the next flight was about 10 minutes. Having flown many of the legacy airlines, I know that the time between last on and first on can be upwards of 30 minutes. While this is NOT an endorsement of any airline, it appears that Southwest has recognized that planes do not make money while sitting at the gate and has taken action.
It started me thinking of print and mail operations. The same can be true for our printers and inserters. If they are sitting idle, they too are not making any money. In fact, like the airlines, they are costing money in terms of lost productivity.
What can we do about this?
First, we can look at our operations. Many Standard Operating Procedures have not been updated to reflect current equipment. Batch sizes are arbitrarily sized based on equipment that no longer exists. Some jobs are batched based on inserters capable of 5,000 – 10,000 envelopes per hour, not the current duty cycles of 18,000 or more we have today. The same is true of print. Many job sizes are based on cut sheet capabilities or worse yet, paper handling capabilities (carts).
Today with roll–to-roll inkjet (or even toner) based printers, the job size can be increased and “downtime” decreased. It is estimated that the time between jobs (for an inserter) can be upwards of 10-15 minutes. This can translate to over an hour of lost productivity per shift.
What can you do? Change the job size. This sounds simple, but too often isn't done. There are tools available that let you take post-composition jobs and concatenate them and adjust the job size to reflect today's hardware.
Take a look at a case study from a mid-western service bureau and what actions they took as they migrated from cut-sheet to inkjet. You don't have to be in the market for a new printer to modernize your operation workflow.
- Adjust print files for maximum printer and inserter optimization
- Adjust inserter barcodes and control files to reflect new print files
- Tweak the position of the mailing information to fit standardized envelopes
- If you are using color, replace pre-printed shells with inline color forms and onserts
- Save postage dollars with more address-dense mailings.
These are a few of the things you can do today to reduce “downtime”. Measure your downtime and determine your MTBJ (mean time between jobs) and see what you can do now to lower your MTBJ.
Click on this case study and see how that Mid-Western Service Bureau saved time and money.
About David Day, EDP
David Day, EDP brings over 32 years of experience in the document management & mail industry. As an active member of Xplor for over 17 years, David frequently presents at local and global Xplor meetings. He has also been a guest speaker at various company user and industry groups including National Postal Forum, Graph Expo and Mailcom. David, Product Marketing Manager at CrawfordTech, is responsible for worldwide for their Enterprise Output Management Products. He works with customers, prospects, sales and product development to identify customer requirements, evaluate solutions and make product recommendations