Use Your Production Data to Improve Your Efficiency
One of the key steps to success for in-plants is to know your numbers. By that, I mean the operational and financial information you have about your operation, such as cost of goods sold (COGS), sales per employee, estimate versus actual costs, productivity by operator, and on-time deliveries/service level agreements (SLAs).
Knowing these numbers is important so you can manage and make decisions from information rather than intuition, identify potential problem areas, monitor progress, benchmark and plan, and develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and reporting.
Having processes and software solutions in place to collect and monitor your financial and operational information (data) will make knowing your numbers a lot easier than if you manually collect the information. Collecting and using this business-critical data for continual improvement such as automating workflow and taking corrective action will position you for success.
Where to Start
Where do you start if you are not collecting operational data? How do you automate the process so that you have the information continually at your fingertips? RSA recently shared three tips to start being more “data-driven” (managing by numbers and data):
- Determine the: what, why, how, who, and when of your data collection.
- Identify the tools you will use to collect the information and match the right software tool for the job to avoid duplicating efforts.
- Set the frequency for collecting the data.
Once you’ve set yourself up to collect data, ideally in an automated fashion, then you can begin tracking and analyzing so you can make improvements.
Optimize Production and Increase Efficiency
In RSA’s new white paper, “Using your In-plant Data to Improve Efficiency,” we show you how you can increase your efficiency by using your shop’s production data on an ongoing basis (our Web-to-print software, WebCRD, does this automatically) to optimize production. Having the information can help you get to the root cause of issues such as why you may not be meeting your on-time deliveries/SLA.
One you’ve collected your data you can generate your KPIs and analyze the data. Some examples of KPIs and data analysis that you can generate by using this kind of operational data include:
- Basic volume over time: black-and-white, color, wide-format, revenue, jobs, and orders.
- Operator interactions with the system to process jobs (touches).
- Orders and revenue by departments and customers.
By looking at the data in a graph or dashboard, you may be able to identify trends or issues that were not evident by only looking at the data.
Then, review your production workflows with the goal of removing any non-value add steps in the production process. Look to remove manual steps like reticketing jobs, printing job sheets, and imposing catalog jobs, and take advantage of automation that can be set up in your workflow software. For instance, In WebCRD there is a feature called AutoFlow that is an automation rules engine that can send a job to a printer without an operator taking any action.
Taking these steps will help you collect the data you need to “know your numbers,” optimize production, and improve your efficiency.
Elisha Kasinskas is Rochester Software Associates’ (RSA) award-winning marketing director. She is responsible for all marketing, public relations, social media and communications, and community building for the firm. Ms. Kasinskas joined RSA in 2010. She is a marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in sales, product management and marketing in leading product and service business-to-business and business-to-consumer firms, including Pinnacle (Birds Eye) Foods, Level 3, HSBC, and a number of regional high-tech firms. She holds an RIT MBA and a BS, Marketing from Radford University. Kasinskas is a frequent moderator for industry speaking sessions, an in-plant blogger, and has received industry awards including the IPMA Outstanding Contributor award. She was an OutputLinks Women of Distinction class of ’15 inductee. Her marketing work with IPMA has secured multiple awards from the American Marketing Association (AMA).