I was sitting at the airport a few weeks ago (changing flights) and made an interesting observation. While watching the gate for Southwest Airlines, I noticed that the time from the last passenger departing and the first one to board the next flight was about 10 minutes. Having flown many of the legacy airlines, the time between last on and first on can be upwards of 30 minutes. All the airlines also are making sure the planes are full to take advantage of capacity.
While this is NOT an endorsement of any airline, it appears that Southwest has realized (and taken action) the planes do not make money while sitting at the gate.
It got me to thinking of print and mail operations. The same can be true for our printers and inserters. If they are sitting idle, then they are not making any money. In fact, like the airlines, they cost money in the form 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 the newer equipment. Batch sizes are arbitrarily 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 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 “down time” 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 there are tools available that let you take post-composition jobs, concatenate them, size to reflect today’s hardware.
Take a look at a case study from a Midwestern Print Service Provider and see 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 it.
Click on this success story and discover how that Midwestern Print Service Provider saved time and money by migrating their workflows to an inkjet press.