From design to communication to shipping, staying organized is paramount.
WHEN EVERY JOB is a rush, you must adjust your production processes for maximum efficiency. From client communication, design, and approval, to printing the job, to packing and shipping, being organized is paramount for success. How are you streamlining your print processes? Our Brain Squad weighed in.
- First, just acknowledging there is a pre, middle, and post when it comes to production. In the beginning of our screen printing journey, this wasn’t so obvious because everything just seems too bunched up together. For pre-production, outsourcing the artwork portion to a professional team of artists makes everything so smooth and we don’t have to really worry about that. Screen printing artwork is usually the hardest thing to do in the whole production flow, and hiring in-house graphic designers is really expensive for most shops. Plus, business goes up and down so you may have a designer on staff that’s just sitting around when you aren’t busy or overwhelmed when you are busy. It’s just so hard to get it just right. Working with an experienced graphic artist team that understands screen printers and screen printing artwork will make your business so much more enjoyable (and you’ll make more money, too). Training and assigning one person to handle inbound shipment and properly organizing garments, working closely with the owner (or manager) and printer is the key. Adding this one person helped reduce errors and slow down at the press because they set up everything in a clean way. The person catches any problem upfront and reacts to it fast to prevent problems down the production flow. The printer just focuses on printing and not if the number of shirts is correct. For post-production, adding one dip tank (with chemicals) has helped a lot. Also labeling the screen rack with a screen mesh number helps keep things organized. Post-production is a tough job. Just being kind and nice to the person that’s doing the worst job in the whole flow goes a long way.” — Gavin StGeorges, Proud Tshirts, Miami, Florida
ABOVE: Gavin shows us how to coat a screen.
- “Currently, we are short staffed, so everyone tries to help one another.” — Julia Cadotte-Capps, J’s Silkscreens, Eastpointe, Michigan
- “Double checking the required date with client.” — David Ashenden, QTCo, Kedron, Queensland, Australia
- “Printavo.” — Christine Geronimo, Midnight Supply Company, Seattle, Washington.
- “Batch processing of film/screens and ink mixing. I do each in a step i.e. mixing four jobs’ worth of ink and swatching, then moving to burning all screens, etc. so production can just roll.” — Eric Carnell, Independence Printage Corp, Bellevue, Washington
- “Trying to get priority, continuous customers out first.” — Luiz Enchinton, 3 Little Birdz, El Paso, Texas
- “Make customers aware of any and all fees and decisions that they must allow us to forgo to complete the task.” — Steve Knight, Dynagraphics Screen Printing, Holly Springs, North Carolina
- “Nobody leaves until the last job of the day is broken down and cleaned.” — Juan Davis, Fast Lane Clothing Company, Tampa, Florida
- “We’ve been screen printing for many years. We have the pre-production, print, and post-production down. Probably the biggest help is stocking substrates and specialty inks for potential jobs with quick turns.” — Robert Francis, ScreenPrintPlus, Naperville, Illinois
- “With new equipment to cut down on time and people.” — Al Messier, Team Print, Bourbonnais, Illinois
- “Currently making sure clients know the date expectations. That’s the key.” — Eric Solomon, Night Owls, Houston, Texas
- “Why the rush jobs?? The solution may be in the mirror. Are you creating the chaos due to lack of organization, lack of planning, lack of forecasting? Think production software. Have you addressed your screen prep, ink availability, staging, finishing? Or are you scrambling to figure it out as you go. If you address the overall shop efficiency before it becomes critical, your transition through a rush period will be much smoother.” — Keith Abrams, The Decoration Facility, Indian Trail, North Carolina
- We use Lean Six Sigma for continual process improvement. When we find an area that can be made more efficient, we work as a team to collect data, brainstorm ideas, and take action. Then we collect data again to ensure the actions created actual improvement. We also use the data to ensure the ‘new’ processes is staying in control.” — Alison Banholzer, Wear Your Spirit, Warehouse, Huntingtown, Maryland
[Listen to episode 6 of Screen Saver: Data Driven Business Decisions for more of Alison’s take on Six Sigma. She discusses the differences between qualitative and quantitative data, why you should stop relying on your gut for decisions, and how you can bring more money into your own pocket.]
- “Schedule, schedule, schedule. It’s always waiting for stock, so get the other components done first so not waiting for art or screens. Post-production: box it and call for PU.” — Andy MacDougall, MacDougall Screen Printing, Royston, British Columbia
- “This is all planning and organization. The decoration part of what we do is actually the easiest. It’s getting everything to happen at the right time, in the right sequence, with quality that trips people up.” — Marshall Atkinson, Atkinson Consulting, Mesa, Arizona
- “We always have a person dedicated to before and after. That person is also cross trained in printing and customer service. Cross training leaves no jobs waiting or wasted.” — Tracey Johnston-Aldworth, Traces Screen Printing, Waterloo, Ontario
- From day one, 13 years ago, it seems like most jobs are a rush job. We strive to reduce all turn times, regardless of customer requests. When we are over capacity, we prioritize rush jobs simply by shipping method. For those willing to pay for the rush, we make sure their jobs get done on time to meet their in-hands date. — Mark Kistler, FireSprint Printing, Omaha, Nebraska
- “Add another person to the production of the order. One folding and one boxing. One pin holing and one taping. One setting the job up and one mixing the ink. — John Wilhelmsen, Distinct Impression, Tucson, Arizona
- “We have developed a sales support team to put processes in place that give salespeople time to sell. This effort has improved the speed of customer contact and issue resolution when there are problems or changes with an order before and after it hits production.” — Rick Poore, Shirts101, Lincoln, Nebraska
- “Rush jobs always seem to be a recipe for disaster. Unless the client is prepared to provide all of the answers, we avoid jumping into a problem that is not of our making. Example: I need five shirts for my father’s birthday tomorrow. My response, “And how long have you known tomorrow was your father’s birthday?” Then if we do the job, we charge double to cover our overtime.” — Bill Bischoff, Bischoff Design/Atomic Tees, Modesto, California
What’s the Brain Squad?
If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S.screen-printing business, you’re invited to join the Screen Printing Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting screen-print pros. Sign up here.
Watch Jay Busselle, Adrienne Palmer, and Jeremy Picker dive deep into DTG printing data, popular styles, and opportunities.
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Jay Busselle, marketing director, Equipment Zone, interviews two experts in apparel decoration trends: Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief of Screen Printing magazine, and Jeremy Picker, creative director and CEO of AMB3R Creative and Screen Printing Editorial Advisory Board member. Both share their insights on decoration trends, apparel styles, and some powerful data for DTG printing. Plus, Picker gives an exclusive look at his 2021 trend report. This is a follow-up webinar to Equipment Zone’s DTG Training Academy virtual event.
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