Linney Group place Prism Production Management at the heart of their print production facility.
With the march of JDF technology at the fore front of most of the print industry’s leading suppliers, it is not surprising that many of the pages of today’s trade press have been filled with news of the latest developments in this key area of our business.
Prism Europe Ltd are aware of the importance of keeping their MIS products at the leading edge of these developments. However, they are also acutely aware that they need to fulfil the requirements of forward thinking customers now, rather than “sometime in the near future”.
One such customer is Mansfield printer, the Linney Group. Like most major players, Linney see the eventual benefits of the JDF format as an important tool to underpin business growth. In the meantime, knowing it was essential to have tight control of their production process, they decided they needed information from existing equipment and they needed it now.
With Prism WIN being their MIS over the last six years, Linney looked to Prism to supply the solution. Within 3 months Prism, in conjunction closely with the Linney personnel, had produced a solution based on Prism WIN’s Production Management (Scheduling) and data capture modules, which is now delivering everything Linney had demanded – and more.
Linney Print runs a 3-shift system with weekend overtime across printing and bindery, and employs a combination of permanent full time, permanent part time and a range of temporary staff. Most of the jobs are high quality, multi section work that requires careful control to maintain the reputation Linney have built over many years.
Communication was the key to the success of the project.
Both Linney and Prism saw good communication as the pivot to the success of the project. They knew that to introduce production scheduling, a key part of production control, the system must be fed from the MIS jobbing system, updated directly from the shop floor, and the resulting schedule communicated to everyone, from account handlers to through warehousing, machine operators and on to dispatch.
Key steps in the implementation process -
- Estimating standards were checked to ensure realistic times were fed to the scheduling module.
- The production resources were defined – from pre-press through to individual finishing staff.
- A network of Virtual Time Manager (VTM) terminals were set up to feed production actuals back to the MIS from the shop floor – to be used for both status updates and for costing.
- Prism’s VTM Work-to List functionality was installed as the centre-piece of the two-way, timely communications between the scheduling department and the Shop Floor.
- Wireless bar code scanners feed material issues and receipts back to the Prism WIN stock and scheduling modules.
- Prism’s “diary note” system was set up to include sales staff, account handlers, purchasing department and production staff in the communication process.
- The “business rules” were defined to reflect Linney’s preferred methods of scheduling.
- Looking at bottlenecks and smoothing the schedule, but also examining where spare capacity will appear.
- Back schedule first then forward schedule on final confirmation of job specification.
- A suite of reports was created from the Prism/Linney database, which provides work-to lists and key performance data to staff.
Once these steps were in place, Linney and Prism were able to fine-tune the production control system to provide the real benefits that the Linney management were looking for, and found additional advantages from the increased communication now taking place.
- Each account handler has his or her own job progress list on screen – dynamically updated from the system and providing full job visibility. Production prerequisites including paper, plates and passed for press, can be updated by the account handler or directly via the MIS back to the schedule. This reduces production problems and scheduling errors.
- Via the VTMs the schedule provides a “Work-To Summary” for each machine, giving the operator a list of upcoming jobs, quantities, estimated start times etc. The window can also show whether jobs are ready, for example, a press may be waiting on plates or paper to be available (colour-coded red). This increases productive time and ensures key jobs are completed in the correct order.
- Linney production staff use the VTMs to input diary notes or records held against a job, customer, etc. This feedback is used by the Customer Service Team to reduce repetition of mistakes, and maintain job quality. “Kit failure” messages are also added to inform all relevant staff of breakdown incidents and to help reduce downtime.
- The VTM system gives full and accurate cost reporting on every job, enhanced by the inclusion of important diary note information from the shop floor. This vital data is also fed to the sales department, providing a full set of reports by customer giving performance against budget. Linney adds to this the spare capacity information from scheduling, providing valuable selling tools to the sales team.
- The schedule provides important feedback to all departments, including a material work-to list for just-in-time purchasing. This has radically reduced the Linney raw stock storage times and values. The plate department use the schedule to plan plate production, reducing waiting times on presses and increasing plant utilisation.
Linney has also taken full advantage of the MS SQL database used by Prism WIN to create customised reports alongside the Prism WIN reports, many of which are published on the Linney intranet. These web-based reports can be easily accessed both internally and, by staff remotely, to take maximum advantage of all the real-time information collected by the Prism system.
Linney now plan to implement the latest iQTMS shop floor data capture modules in both the press and bindery rooms, adding further accuracy and automation to job performance data as well as providing workflow and pallet tracking visibility to the full life cycle of jobs being produced.