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  • Production Capacity

    When you have 9 automatic presses, 3 manuals, and a pair of DTG machines it becomes incredibly difficult to determine what your production capacity actually is. Completing and shipping anywhere between 50 and 400 orders per day and accurately being able to tell someone you have the time to get it all done is nearly impossible. When your workflow brings you jobs with inconsistent qty's or strange print locations. 2-color jobs for 22,000 pieces or 14-color jobs for 72 pieces. How do you create a workflow that coincides with what your actually capable of producing? How do you know when you've reached capacity?

    You guys with the larger shops, how do you keep it all straight? How have you determined your capacity?

    -Josh P.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jpool
    You guys with the larger shops, how do you keep it all straight? How have you determined your capacity? -Josh P.
    Josh, welcome to the board. Most of the larger shops have production software of some sort that helps to present an overall view of the situation. But, there are some who pride themselves on having it all under control without software.

    If you do a little research you will find the term "Gantt Chart" that keeps coming up. This is a common tool for project planning of all types. The Gantt Chart was invented in 1910 by Henry Gantt, a mechanical engineer and it forever changed the way in which production managers look at things. In the pre-computer days, we got by with bits of paper on the wall. Then we moved to corkboards and thumbtacks followed by white boards and then magnetic boards. Then for those who are not digitally challenged we entered into computerization and relational databases which can track tens of thousands of tasks.

    While Excel is a popular tool for the DIY crowd, some find that Microsoft Project fits the bill a bit better. However, for those who want the best you will not find a more robust program than Filemaker Pro. Most of the more advanced Production Management Software on the market is built on Filemaker Pro and then converted to a stand-a-lone program. And still, the best will have a Gantt Chart built in because of the great visibility of seeing how things are progressing.

    We really have it easy in the screenprinting industry compared to some of the very large manufacturing concerns or distribution companies. I was in Golfsmith recently and was given a tour of the distribution facility. Almost everything is controlled by bar code and conveyor belts. There are 25 tractor trailers backed up to the loading docks and they are constantly moving in and out after being loaded. It was simply amazing how much product was being brought in and stored on the shelves by one crew, while another crew was busy filling orders and loading trucks up with product. It seemed like the products were hardly on the shelves before they were sent right back out the door. They literally ship tens of thousands of items daily!
    May all your impressions be great,

    Bill Hood
    Consultant to the Screenprinting Industry Worldwide since 1983
    Austin, TX and Cuernavaca, MX
    World Phone: (0011) 512.481.2465

    http://solutionsjournal.com
    http://schoolofscreenprinting.com
    http://screenprintstore.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Hey Josh..

      The bigger question is how does a company acquire 9 autos, 2 to 3 shifts and NOT have a system already in place to know what it can and can't do...

      If this place is looking to you to implement a system, you have your hands full my friend.

      John Sheridan
      Blacktop Graphics Screenprinting
      619.933.9053

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bill Hood
        I was in Golfsmith recently and was given a tour of the distribution facility. Almost everything is controlled by bar code and conveyor belts. There are 25 tractor trailers backed up to the loading docks and they are constantly moving in and out after being loaded. It was simply amazing how much product was being brought in and stored on the shelves by one crew, while another crew was busy filling orders and loading trucks up with product. It seemed like the products were hardly on the shelves before they were sent right back out the door. They literally ship tens of thousands of items daily!
        Years ago I toured the Columbia Sportswear distribution center and it was similar to this, but on a larger scale. The building is basically a 3 story multi-acre robot. At least 30-40 containers are being unloaded at a time. (up to 100 at peak) One thing to note when distro centers get to this size, no one person knows where anything is at all. In fact, only the system knows. Product is not categorically assigned space on the shelves - it is dynamically stored in the facility as it comes in. Space is filled in order of receipt, not type of product. The shelves are only labeled w/ barcodes designating location and available space. When an item is to be picked and shipped, the system knows where each case, pallet or individual SKU is located and retrieves it automatically from wherever it is in the facility. (we are talking MILES of conveyor)

        As to the original question, I would agree that to get to the point of 9 autos you better have a damn good handle on running each on it's own to add up the total production capacity.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bill,
          We are using Filemaker Pro. From every department we have a total of 39 users daily. It's not a problem to book all the presses for a day or so, but it starts to become more and more of a logistics nightmare the farther you go out.
          Has the scheduling module been used effectively in such a large scale production facility?


          John,
          I am well aware of what each press is capable of. Don't forget you have to add the human element. With about 25 different operators they all have there own skill level and individual capabilities. We run production logs everyday for every press. This information is used to maintain the accuracy of Filemaker Pro's built in scheduling module. However, with the assortment of different types of jobs it still remains difficult to be able to tell your superiors when they've booked or under booked the shop for more than a week in advance.

          If you claim your capacity is 5000 impressions for just 1 press/1 shift. Is the 5000 impressions a 1-color design or a 12-color design. You will have less impressions per hour on a job with more colors. Your capacity for that press can't stay the same can it? How do you account for the difference in time because of the complexity of the artwork?

          more later .....

          -Joshua P.

          Comment


          • #6
            I built and managed a large cut & sew facility in Romania producing about 2,500 - 3,000 dozen tees per day. Though I have never seen this system used in screenprinting, it should be. In sewing, every operation has a specific number of SAMs (per dozen), standard allowed minutes. If there are 11 operations involved in sewing a specific style, the sum of the SAMs of each operation equals the amount of time it takes to sew the shirt if each operator is operating at 100% efficiency. Some operate at higher and some at lower efficiency (and are paid accordingly). The SAMs are developed by the engineering department and take into account such things as stitches per inch, number of inches to sew, flywheel RPMs, materials handling, etc.. To the screenprinter those things would be more like stroke length, squeegee speed, flash time, loading/unloading time, etc..

            If you run an 8-hour shift with a total of 1-hour of break time you have 7 hours of potential production time or 420 SAMs per press. At the end of the shift, or at any moment during the shift, you can add up your SAMs produced vs. the time in which it took to produce them and calculate your efficiency. In the same way you can add up the SAMs from all the machines combined and the total SAMs produced and see you efficiency for the entire shop for the hour/day/week/month, whatever. Over time you will have a clear picture of your operating efficiency. Once you can measure and monitor it, you can truly begin to manage and improve it. This also makes it much, much easier to accurately schedule your capacity with work and gives you a great advantage in your costing.

            Hope I articulated this clearly and you find it helpful. If you have questions about it, please ask...
            David Permenter
            Educational Director
            DCC Print Vision LLP

            India Mobile: +91-704-569-1290
            US Mobile: +1-904-808-5301
            Skype: davidpermenter
            david.permenter@dcc.co.in
            www.dcc.co.in

            Comment


            • #7
              Part of the problem we are all faced with in shops big and small is that at the end of the day we are mass customizing operations. Taking a blank raw material and decorating it in an uncountable number of ways. Not an assembly line or sewing factory. The number of factors that affect throughput are exponentially staggering. As their is ink software that can estimate coverage and usage there is also software such as Shopworks and Impress that contain scheduling modules. Unfortunately neither are very helpful or accurate and can be time burdensome. Unfortunately the best way in my opinion to accurately estimate capacity is to do what you appear to be doing already........put the factory under a microscope; breakdown the jobs into different categories and study them in real time and even study each presses throughtput and even study different capacities on shifts (as approvals may become difficult at night. I say unfortunately because in order to do so accurately this requires time and I am picking up on a sense of urgency down there. Also compiling analyzing, and extracting the useful data can be a bit overwhelming but must be done.
              Welcome to the Big Top!
              tp

              Comment


              • #8
                The accuracy of a computer is many times that of any analog system. The computer works with what information is entered into it and how that information is interpreted. The results of any computerized production management system is in direct reflection to the input. A proper computer system negates double entry and can gather information from a wide variety of resources to compile information that can be extremely useful in analyzing the entered information.

                The burden of entering the information into the computer far outweighs the antiquated use of handwritten forms, gathering the information from various sources and then spending an enormous amount of time with a calculator (read human error!) to arrive at proper statistical information that will indeed prove beneficial to anyone with the most rudimentary computer skills.
                May all your impressions be great,

                Bill Hood
                Consultant to the Screenprinting Industry Worldwide since 1983
                Austin, TX and Cuernavaca, MX
                World Phone: (0011) 512.481.2465

                http://solutionsjournal.com
                http://schoolofscreenprinting.com
                http://screenprintstore.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  No one said anything about handwritten forms. As in my response to Marshalls scheduling post last week if I were T-Formation I would have custom software designed for my specific needs. I've done it the past and although the process was far from seamless eventually we had a good working module.
                  tp

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is one reason why I have NO desire to ever have more than 1 or 2 autos. I put orders on the production schedule when they are approved works for my little shop and easy as hell to keep up with. I can't even begin to fathom having to schedule 9 or 10 autos, let alone keeping up with all the costs associated with the manpower/equipment needed to keep those autos running 2, 3 shifts a day. My hats are off to the guys that do it well, there needs to be a modern marvels show about you.

                    I would think after the second auto, it would be hard to even know if you were making a profit or not with all the support staff you need.

                    Cool topic.


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have 4 autos 2 manuals 40 heads emb. Any more than that is quite the headache indeed.
                      tp

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tonypep
                        No one said anything about handwritten forms.
                        Tony, this was not meant for you individually, but addressed to the forum in general. Don't take it personal.
                        May all your impressions be great,

                        Bill Hood
                        Consultant to the Screenprinting Industry Worldwide since 1983
                        Austin, TX and Cuernavaca, MX
                        World Phone: (0011) 512.481.2465

                        http://solutionsjournal.com
                        http://schoolofscreenprinting.com
                        http://screenprintstore.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I want to find out what running a shop with 9 autos is all about. We currently have 1 auto, 1 manual and 72 embroidery heads and it's really easy to lay out a few weeks to a month of production with what we have. Next step will be another auto and maybe another 18 head embroidery machine.
                          http://srimonogramming.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jpool
                            John,
                            I am well aware of what each press is capable of. Don't forget you have to add the human element. With about 25 different operators they all have there own skill level and individual capabilities. We run production logs everyday for every press. This information is used to maintain the accuracy of Filemaker Pro's built in scheduling module. However, with the assortment of different types of jobs it still remains difficult to be able to tell your superiors when they've booked or under booked the shop for more than a week in advance.

                            If you claim your capacity is 5000 impressions for just 1 press/1 shift. Is the 5000 impressions a 1-color design or a 12-color design. You will have less impressions per hour on a job with more colors. Your capacity for that press can't stay the same can it? How do you account for the difference in time because of the complexity of the artwork?

                            more later .....

                            -Joshua P.
                            That's good to know. I recently left as production manager, a shop in NY that had 6 autos and a manual and ran a single shift so I know the pressures you're dealing with. My single biggest headache every day was trying to answerer those booking questions and usually resulted in some sort of shouting match and me being told to just get the facking job done asap. The company was 25 yrs old and only in the past years did they invest in Shopworx, but they didn't use it correctly nor did they do proper tracking of time or SAM's as David brought up. It made my job only that more difficult due to never having the time to work on the system as I was always caught up in dealing with floor issues. My biggest problems were setup time and human element.

                            Taking the SAM's a little farther, David is correct in everything the shop does can be tracked by minute and used to forecast. Assign each step a SAM and then add it all up; you'll know what your target production time is. If you have a 3000 pc order, 10c Full Back, 4c Left Chest and 1c inner necks its 9k impressions with 15 screens. Full back print at @ 10pcs a minute. LC runs 14pcs minute and necks run 12pcs a minute. You're looking at 13.5 hrs of production time (includes 15 screens @ 3 min color setup time) If you have different setup times or don't use a registration system like Tri-loc or Newman Pin system, then your ability to accurately predict setup time gets really frustrating. What should have taken 25 minutes to set up an 8 color ended up taking 2 hours and sent that print job into the next shift/day.

                            If a press can produce 5k impressions per shift, that number should only differ due to stroke length, not colors. A 1c chest or 14c chest should print the same speed for a normal print, the amount of colors doesn't mean the press runs slower, only as slow as the slowest print stroke or flash if using one, even then a hot run with quartz flash runs @ 1.8 - 2 sec, or faster than the average loader. it's when you print a full back or a left chest you have to account for that in your SAMs. Assign different stroke lengths different times. A LC can print 14 pcs a minute whereas a full 24" back print may only produce 8 pcs a minute. Thatís where your magic happens and a little time with a stop watch timing stroke lengths pay off. Then you can take your production orders, plug them into FMP with goods, screens, stroke, colors, tagging, folding, packaging and get a production time to ship.

                            Good luck down there, I donít envy what you deal with on a daily basis.
                            I now run a 1 press shop, have full control to take it to the next level and am now implementing production systems that will grow and develop with the company. Anyone tasked with production planning has a hard enough job in this industry as is, itís only compounded when you add machines.

                            John Sheridan
                            Blacktop Graphics Screenprinting
                            619.933.9053

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              John, all good points. There are, of course, other points to consider. While the squeegee stroke is one thing, it is the dwell time that counts most. I have seen many press operators set up to have a very fast stroke speed, only to have to painstakingly watch the press sit idle until the platen is moved to a new head. Granted some press manufacturers have done a much better job at building in a dwell time that is tied to the speed of the slowest squeegee stroke / flash time.

                              One of the problems lies in a shop having a single production manager who seldom has the time to work on a system. The production manager is often given far too many roles outside of what they are truly supposed to working on, i.e. managing production. I've seen production managers setting up the jobs because the company has yet to train a press set up crew or having to solve a color matching problem - again due to poor training.

                              Yesterday, I was in a very large, high production shop and found the owner of the shop, wearing a t-shirt, shorts and a bandana on his head, sweating profusely while loading the automatic. His production manager was unloading and meanwhile no one was working on managing the production or running the business.

                              The owner had called earlier with a problem. He had accepted a job that was supposed to be on burgandy nylon running shorts, only to find out when the goods arrived that they were actually 100-percent polyester. Even though they put a white polyester ink on the press, it was turning a nice shade of pink after only one pass through the dryer, which had been turned down and the belt speed turned up. The ink was barely drying, but the dye from the polyester was migrating into the ink rapidly.

                              It didn't help that the temperature in the shop was over 120F, or that they were being forced to print/flash/print because the screens were coated too thin. And, the substrates were to printed in three locations, which meant three trips through the dryer.

                              We had a conference call set up between my business partner, Roberto, in Mexico City, myself in Austin and the client. We made some suggestions, which were quickly put aside as the shop didn't have time to remake the screens with a better Emulsion Over Mesh (EOM) ratio. He didn't want to block the migration as it would mean adding another screen, more ink, and more time. Time was what he didn't have as the job was on a deadline.

                              The owner was up against the wall, having accepted the job with a short delivery time. He wanted a quick fix and he needed it now. We were able to deliver some ink and additives that made the job print much better. While this was a partial solution, it certainly should not be the end to the story. The shop has a management problem, actually many problems in that they are:

                              Working with too tight of a deadline to deal with issues
                              Accepting jobs that are problematic
                              A staff that is untrained in handling problems
                              A lack of a standard operating system to eliminate problems
                              An owner working IN the business in lieu of working ON the business
                              A production manager who runs the press

                              And, there are so many more that it would take pages to list. This is so familiar that it is beyond comprehending. How many screenprinting shops, or for that matter, businesses in general that have opened their doors ill-prepared to deal with the problems that will arise. Few, and I mean less than 5-percent, have any sort of training other than on the job. This means that they know what they know and have learned this from working in only one or two (perhaps a few) shops. They learn to coat screens the way they did it at Shop 1 and take that information to Shop 2, with no regard as to the "best" method. Far too many are working in what they think is "printing-on-demand" and accepting whatever comes in the door with no game plan what so ever.

                              As Pogo has stated, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"


                              May all your impressions be great,

                              Bill Hood
                              Consultant to the Screenprinting Industry Worldwide since 1983
                              Austin, TX and Cuernavaca, MX
                              World Phone: (0011) 512.481.2465

                              http://solutionsjournal.com
                              http://schoolofscreenprinting.com
                              http://screenprintstore.com

                              Comment

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