By Mark Hinder, Responsible for Business Development, Graphic Communications Group, Ricoh Europe
Commercial printers consumed by the day to day running of their operation can struggle to assess if their business is functioning as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For many, the pandemic provided an opportunity to review what they do and challenge deeply held practices, processes, and beliefs. It gave them the push to question if their manufacturing processes are fit for the future.

And certainly now too, an operational review should be on the radar for all progressive print business leaders. It should flag any issues, whether process or resource based, that affect a company’s profitability and it should look at market pressures such as squeezed margins set by an extremely cost competitive environment and client led pricing. It should offer modules that give access to experts at any stage of the journey.

Ricoh’s EDGE consultancy does exactly this, in three steps:

1 Discover

According to a 2020 WorkMarket study , 78% of business leaders believe they could save up to three hours a day by automating tasks. The operational review or ‘discovery phase’ of Ricoh’s Manufacturing Process Improvement approach (part of EDGE) assesses the barriers to production efficiency; focusing on people, processes, and production systems. Time-consuming manual tasks including production, fulfilment and dispatch can be streamlined with process automation while assessing employee and product movement. Reconciling multiple data sources and removing manual or low value add processes can result in efficiency gains of 10% to 30%.

Our EDGE consultancy creates an unbiased review, following a site visit and hands-on assessment. It includes a 2D and 3D layout simulation of space utilisation, demonstrating the most optimised workflow while factory benchmarking highlights gaps in performance and practices, and presents new ideas. Last but not least, an assessment of workflows and product movement identifies unnecessary and inefficient processes.

2 Transform

The opportunities found in the ‘discover’ stage are addressed in the ‘transform’ phase by establishing structures, roles, and responsibilities. Pain points are unique to each client but some of the common areas that can often be easily improved include:

3 Sustain

Promoting the widespread adoption of improvements in the manufacturing process as a culture, rather than a one-off activity, ensures the long term success of the approach. This should be underpinned with the engagement of every employee in lean methodology and the “work smarter not harder” ethos.

Benefits include:

EDGE differentiates by temporarily embedding Ricoh’s continuous improvement experts alongside employees. It informs long term process transformation, with continuous reviews to measure success and define maintenance activities.

Those on the shop floor are the experts in day to day operational delivery which is why engaging them to proactively identify waste elimination and highlight automation opportunities is the quickest and most sustainable route to embedding lean methodologies.


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