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How to bring about change in the pressroom

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Some people resist change, even when it is needed. Recently I visited a plant that had just installed two of the latest and greatest presses made. The sheetfed presses were rated at 18,000 impressions per hour (iph) and the makereadies were fast. What did I see, but a running speed of 9,000 iph and a two-hour makeready. After spending all that money and pouring concrete to expand the facility, productivity had not gone up at all. I see this time and again.

Productivity is 70% people and 30% machinery. Your people have to be sold, trained and lead to make productivity happen. Resistance to change has nothing to do with age, geographic location, race, ethnic background — it has everything to do with leadership. Resistance to change many times is a plant disease — it runs through the entire organization and seems to be contagious to very new employee.

Plants that are resistant to change fail to challenge the “sacred cow.” If you have a situation where employees do not speak freely, your productivity will never improve. Now that we see the issue, what are we going to do about it?

  • Involve the people that are going to run the equipment in the decision.
  • Take the key people who will run the equipment to the equipment demo site.
  • Establish and post the goal for the equipment — for presses, run speed, makeready time, spoilage, waste and quality.
  • Keep the manufacturer involved after the installation and training.

Now let's consider the small changes. One of the most common: “Here is a new chemical. Try it.” This is a bad approach — nine times out of 10, that chemical will fail. First list the potential advantage(s) to the company. What do we hope to see? What is the cost advantage? Why are we trying this chemical? Your people need to know the whys and what to look for. Likewise, you, the manager, need to set up the test properly and understand what the goal is. This basic approach will work in introducing any new item into the pressroom.

Raymond J. Prince is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. He is vice president and senior consultant, operations management, NAPL (Paramus, NJ). Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or e-mail

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