A big part of success in the screen printing business has to do with organizing your shop to run efficiently, churning out quality prints in a timeframe that keeps your customers happy and allows you to move quickly to the next project. If you’re working to improve your shop’s production flow, there are a few steps you can take to increase your efficiency.
As you bring in new equipment or new materials, it’s often easiest to set up your new machine or stash goods wherever you have the space for them. A little foresight and planning as to your shop’s setup and storage can have a big payoff in terms of efficiency. Make sure your machines and prep areas are set up in the order in which they are used, and make sure materials are close at hand. A lot of time can be wasted crossing the shop to fetch ink, emulsion or fresh screens. Even more time can be wasted toting freshly printed shirts across the shop to the conveyor dryer. It might mean a little rearranging from time to time, but ensuring an efficient shop setup will help to decrease your production times.
Of course, you’ll have your go-to suppliers, the places you always turn to for blank shirts or plastisol ink. Don’t rely only on one supplier for each item you need, always have one or two backup suppliers for all of your materials. You don’t want to delay an order because your usual supplier has the raglan shirts you need on backorder. If your usual supplier can’t get something you need to you quickly, have another supplier waiting in the wings so you can get your job done in your usual turnaround time.
Your production schedule should be more than the day’s to-do list. You should have a spreadsheet of all scheduled projects, and that spreadsheet should include a calendar of which projects will be taking up which machines at a given time. The calendar also should have a lineup of which team members will be working on a given machine or order at any given time. Don’t forget to include things like lunch breaks and machine maintenance. Your entire team, from your sales staff to your printers, should be aware of the production schedule and how it impacts them.
Don’t forget the production schedule once projects have been wrapped up: Make sure you’re evaluating your production times to see how accurately your production schedule is holding up. You might find that it takes more or less time or more or less personnel to complete projects than you had originally predicted. Keeping track of this will help you to keep a more accurate production schedule in the future.
It’s important to realize that you might need to tell your customers no from time to time. If your production schedule is maxed out and someone comes to you with a new project, you just might have to turn them away. Make sure you have a plan for doing so: Always be polite and speak positively to your customers. Check to see if a longer turnaround time would work for them. If their project can’t be delayed, have another shop you feel comfortable referring them to.
If you find yourself regularly turning away business because your machines are running at full capacity, it might be time to take a hard look at your operations. Does the demand call for growth, and is a bigger print shop in line with your goals? You might find that the demand for your work is steady enough to warrant higher-capacity presses and additional staff. No shop wants to turn away good business. If you’re already doing everything you can to run efficiently, it might be time to grow your business.
Looking for the right equipment to meet your shop’s demand? Not sure when is the right time to upgrade? Let’s talk about getting the most out of your shop!