How to Juggle 3,000 Jobs at a Time and Get Everything Out on Time

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | No Comments »

Plan MazeImagine this: A facility that handles 1,000 digital commercial print jobs per day representing a wide variety of applications with many of them having 3-day turnaround times which include shipping halfway across the country. Now imagine one person trying to schedule all those jobs to be produced on a fleet of presses and bindery equipment and managing to get everything prioritized and out on time even as new rush jobs stream in. That’s exactly what happens every day at one of Standard Register’s regional operations in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Besides having a phenomenal staff, they utilize EFI’s PrintFlow and Fiery Central solutions to automate their scheduling and workflow. Their system is designed to enable a single person to schedule up to 2,000 orders per day as these orders stream in 24×7 with varying due dates. The complexity of their ever-changing scheduling is mind-blowing when you consider everything which needs to be accounted for, such as capacity constraints, throughput calculations, load balancing, shipping pickup times, transit times, and so forth to manage an average of 3,000 jobs in their system at any given time.

This would be an unwieldy task requiring a team of schedulers without this software. Take a look at this video I created from an interview with two of their team. It’s one of 9 videos from the complete Workflow Case Study available to PODi members at www.podi.org. This particular one describes their challenges and how they are using EFI PrintFlow and Fiery Central to address them.

They start by entering orders into the PrintFlow system and from then on production scheduling is automatic. The system automatically revised the schedule every 15 minutes and calculates when each job needs to start in order to be printed, finished, packed, shipped and delivered on time. Orders within 3 hours of their start time are then automatically sent via JDF to Fiery Central.

Operators don’t need to sort through jobs to determine the best order to produce them. They don’t need to handle job tickets, find files, and so forth because they can see all that information right on their Fiery dashboards. They just need to proof, RIP, load paper, and print.

The result is an operation capable of scheduling and producing 1,000 jobs a day and consistently delivering them on time – even with transit times included. Their management can see capacity, automate, and manage work results with greater efficiency. And the bottom line is that customers are receiving their products when promised, with improved quality, and fewer mistakes.

Now, most places don’t handle volumes like this but it is pretty exciting to see an operation that does. It proves that it is possible for a single person to schedule a vast quantity of a variety of jobs as long as they have the right tools. Bear in mind that this operation doesn’t just produce one, single type of product – it produces a wide variety of applications for healthcare, financial, commercial and industrial markets.

So, the next time you feel that your jobs are too complex to automate, or that your job mix is too broad to automate, think again. Perhaps you don’t have sufficient volume for it to make sense, but you certainly don’t need to have 1,000 jobs a day to justify it. And if Standard Register can make this work in their high-complexity, high-variety, high-volume world then perhaps something like this could work in yours.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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