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Plant Layout and The Bottom Line

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

Four shops discuss how to improve facility layout and workflow.

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The pressure to boost production efficiency, reduce waste, improve quality, and increase safety are just a few of the factors that are forcing graphics producers to take a careful look at the layout of their operations-and its effect on workflow.

Whether it’s triggered by the acquisition of new equipment, relocation to a new facility, or expansion of an existing plant, the process of assessing workflow requires careful analysis of various factors, including each step in the production process; the interactions that occur between departments; and the physical limitations of the facility. Often, this kind of analysis can reveal problems and challenges that weren’t initially apparent and, importantly, can lead to improvements that exceed expectations.

At the recent Signage and Graphics Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida, four print providers gathered to discuss their experiences in addressing inefficient shop-floor workflows, redesigning production spaces, and even starting from scratch to build new facilities. Tom Frecska, the editor of Screen Printing magazine, sister publication to The Big Picture, served as moderator and interviewer, while additional questions presented here came from session attendees. The four panelists participating included:

Jared Smith, vice president of Bluemedia (, which specializes in vehicle graphics-primarily buses and fleets-environmental graphics, wall murals, signs, and stadium graphics. The company has a mini-campus of three connected buildings in Tempe, Arizona.

Kirk Green, president and CEO of Ferrari Color (, based in Salt Lake City, with additional facilities in San Francisco and Sacramento. Begun as a commercial photo lab, Ferrari Color moved into larger-format retail signage and graphics, and now, according to Green, "produces almost everything in two basic groups: UV print and traditional print such as Lambda."

Tom Rieger, president of Rieger Imaging (, based in Clarksburg, Maryland. The shop’s primary focus is museum graphics, creating interior fitouts for museums around the country, with a secondary business niche of interior P-O-P.

Craig Furst, vice president of AAA Flag and Banner ( in Los Angeles, a screen printer and digital printer servicing special events, P-O-P, and various retail markets, established in 1970.

Q: What prompted each of you to modify the layout and workflow of your production floor?