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Garnering Better Shop-Floor Workflow

How five shops have re-arranged their equipment array, and people, to expedite the flow of materials

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By Jake Widman

"Workflow" has been a hot topic and buzzword for about a decade now. From PDFs to JDFs, preflighting to post-processing, the focus has been on streamlining the flow of digital data. But there’s another aspect to workflow that’s much older, if less sexy, and that’s streamlining the flow of physical materials from station to station on the production floor.

Printing, after all, is still a manufacturing business that processes raw materials through a series of machines to make a physical product. In an industry in which margins are becoming ever slimmer, finding the best arrangement of those machines to support the manufacturing process is critical.

This topic becomes even more critical, of course, as shops look to expand their printing arsenal by duplicating their current equipment, or by adding larger equipment, such as a flatbed machine. The following five print providers have wrestled with that question and share some of the techniques they’ve used to make their workflow work.

Designing for Speed and Convenience
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Time at current location: 1 1/2 years
Size: about 10,000 sq ft (shop area)
Equipment: "There are about nine pieces of equipment on the floor, everything from an Epson Stylus Pro 9600 to an Oce Arizona T220 UV flatbed to a Nur Expedio 5000 16-ft printer."

Resolution Graphics has been in business since 1997, and until a couple of years ago the company operated out of a 4000-sq ft space. "We were really crammed in," says owner Chris Ruddy. Things only got worse in 2000, when the company "got into the really big machines-such as the Nur Salsa 3200 and Nur BlueBoard HiQ," Ruddy continues. "Our space was inadequate for a long period of time, but it allowed us to think about exactly what we would want."