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Here’s the Wide-Format Pro’s Blueprint for Getting Leaner and Meaner

How implementing lean processes will build a culture of continuous improvement, ultimately leading to more sales.




IN THE BIG PICTURE Brain Squad January/February 2023 edition, Lukas Holland, an expert in Lean manufacturing, shares ways wide-format printers can continuously find small ways to improve and cut waste to create more value. The byproduct of implementing Lean and focusing on growing people and building a culture of continuous improvement is more efficiency and better quality, leading to higher sales with higher profit margins, as well as happier employees who enjoy work.

Here’s what the Brain Squad has to say about Lean manufacturing in their businesses:

  • Yes. We started a lean manufacturing program a while back and are actively refining it and updating it again now. We felt the efficiency and reduced waste, let alone the fluidity of the “process” was worth the effort and expense in a very big way! – Derek Atchley, Atchley Graphics

  • The primary thing we do in production and install is address flaws/errors immediately. Covering up an issue always results in a more expensive fix further down the line. – Rob Matthews, M3
  • We do our best to cut costs at all stages of printing. Having an MIS on the front and back end helps the business side, while having complimentary machines to reduce time and waste in production are game changers. – Jason Roberts, Futura Color
  • What is the opposite of lean? I want to fatten up inventories as I am sick of these shortages on every g*ddamned thing! Lol – Tim Bezner, Westmount Signs and Printing
  • Lean theory. Countless times you try your best, but one problem on machine or substrate, bam waste. I tell the crew, do your best to avoid waste, and continue forward. – Tommy Melendez, Master Graphics NYC
  • Yes, we inventory very little. Most materials are project-based ordering to reduce waste. – Tim Roe, Outspoken Sign
  • We have operated in an efficient manner since the company started. All managers are Yellow Belt and above. One partner is Black Belt and one is Green Belt. Benefits are reduced waste, safer operations, cleaner operations, and less costly production for improved profitability. Removing touchpoints and simplifying process for continuous improvement. – Brian Hite, Image Options
  • As much as possible, however being a small business sometimes this can be hard. – Kelly Mank, Time4Printing
  • Yes, always have been since day one. – Kristin Lanzarone, WrapStar Pro
  • We always think about productivity, but being such a small company making custom products, we do not have a specific lean manufacturing process or program in place. – Jim White, Go Graphix
  • Yes, we are preparing to make a big push in 2023 for 5S and Lean. We have hired an outside consulting firm to come in and provide a training session and will be implementing it company-wide. – Michael Greenwald, NextPage
  • Efficiency is one of the most common subjects discussed at ER2. We are always trying to refine our process to be being leaner and more efficient. If we see an opportunity to save some time on regular repeating tasks, we will almost always take it. The upfront work that goes into making your processes leaner or automating tasks always seem to pay off in short time. – Gary Schellerer, ER2 Image Group
  • We do. We are limited on space, and in doing so we have streamlined many processes, allowing us to configure our equipment differently and greatly reduce production times. – David Kaiser, Digitype Design
  • Yes. Basically, we keep our inventory as low as possible, keeping just enough on hand to keep working until our suppliers can restock us. – Jim Dittmer, JDA Creative Color
  • Yes. Every penny counts and minutes cost dollars. Moving material to where it will be used, moving finished goods near shipping, locating tools near the need, and any time saving steps that can be implemented all save minutes on hundreds if not thousands of jobs. Take the time, make the investment. It pays off. – Jared Smith, bluemedia
  • We absolutely leverage lean methodologies, but we are in such a custom business that full implementation is somewhat problematic. – Wade Neff, Strategic Factory
  • Yes, we are trying to minimize waste and use up everything on our shelves before ordering materials even if we have to reprofile, etc. It’s standard practice, but now more than ever. – Diana Herrera, AP Imaging
  • Not as a structured system or plan. We try to improve our processes to keep our labor touches down, and just make it easy to busy with us. – Rick Mandel, Mandel Graphic Solutions
  • We have other areas to work on improving. We are not ready for this challenge. It is vital that the team be educated and understand the concept. This will likely require outside leadership and coaching. There is a considerable risk if the implementation is allowed to fail. The team will lose faith in a valid concept and greatly resist future deployments. – Cain Goettelman, FLS Banners
  • We haven’t had time to implement. – Christine Walsh, Alpha Graphics
  • We are not currently applying lean concepts but are engaged in production cost-cutting. – Michael Elrod, Synnott Imaging

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. wide-format printing business, you’re invited to join the Big Picture Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting wide-format professionals. Sign up here.



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