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Dec 1, 2000 12:00 AM

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As part of the makeready discussion at the Research & Engineering Council's "Progress in the Pressroom" seminar last month, Quebecor World's targeted publications and catalog group (TPC) (Midland, MI) brought up the challenges of operating with a tight labor force. "We can obtain people; it's the difficulty of retaining them," explains Charles Miotke, president of specialties.

To improve employee retention and combat boredom, many TPC production employees are put on job rotation, enabling them to participate in a variety of tasks. To encourage learning, employees must take qualified tests to determine what skill level they've achieved; these results - rather than seniority - are weighed when an employee is considered for a promotion.

Press operators, in particular, are expected to improve their skills. TPC management holds daily crew meetings, where it discusses the previous day's production, maintenance, downtime, safety, waste and quality of work with press operators. The company's goal is to start up presses without having to shut them down unexpectedly; so far, TPC press operators have accomplished this 80 percent to 90 percent of the time. Each operator is also assigned particular tasks during a press run. Miotke likens the end result to "working like an orchestra."