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Garnering Better Shop-Floor Workflow

How five shops have re-arranged their equipment array, and people, to expedite the flow of materials

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By Jake Widman

Ruddy offers this piece of advice for any print provider considering a move or a reconfiguration of the shop floor: "Consult with your shop people extensively. They know exactly what they want to have."

Interaction and Integration
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Time at current location: about 4 years
Size: 60,000 sq ft
Equipment: Durst Rho 350R, 160, and 600 Pictor inkjet printers; HP Scitex XL 1500 16-ft printer; Durst Lambda photo printer, plus laminators, routers, x-y cutters, and more.

Ferrari Color has its roots in the world of old-fashioned color labs. "We came out of that lab environment-separate rooms, walls everywhere," says Marty McGhie, vice president of operations (who also authors this magazine’s "Business and Management" column). "Traditionally, photo labs were set up with multiple rooms because of the need for darkrooms for enlargers and processors. Hence, the typical photo lab layout resembled somewhat of a rat’s maze in terms of multiple rooms throughout the shop."

Over the years, the different shops grew together into one workplace, but the space was still divided up: Ferrari had all of its wide-format equipment and work in one facility, and photo printing in another.

When the time came to plan their move into new accommodations, "we visited a lot of shops," says McGhie. "You could tell that they were designed by simply accommodating equipment. So we asked ourselves, ‘What if we just opened up the entire warehouse?’ My business partner, Dan Spangenberg, was pretty insightful. He drew up a floor plan and we all looked at it and approved it."

The result is basically one big common area in which the workflow moves counterclockwise. "You can stand up in a cubicle and see any place on the entire floor," describes McGhie. Not that everyone liked that visibility right away: "Honestly, at first, some people weren’t really happy." But the togetherness served its purpose. "We want everyone integrated into the production process," states McGhie. "Now there tends to be a lot of interaction between the customer-service reps and the digital folks"-they share the same preflighting workstations, for instance.