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Something that we seem to continually struggle with in our plant is getting employees to pull “samples” of completed jobs and send them back to Sales & Customer Service. I would really like to know how other printers have successfully addressed this.
We create a Job folder that follows the job throughout the whole process. At the end of each process samples go into the Job folder, and then the folders are stored for a period of 1 year. At any time a reprint comes in, we pull the folder, update the info and send back out with the re-run or new job so all prior press samples, sign off, etc. are in the folder for the re-run.
We use a “gatekeeper” mentality for pulling samples. Our shipping department folks are the last to touch the job ticket and if there is not a sample in the ticket when it reaches them, their instructions are to route the ticket back to the last operation to find a sample. Since we have initiated this, and someone is watching for the samples very close to the source, we’ve been very successful in getting samples pulled.
A procedure should be in place which specifies that the operator must make frequent quality pulls during the production run. Usually these pulls are time stamped and initialed by the operator. Often the pull has the quantity produced at the time of the pull, also it is a good idea to have a check list attached to the pull where the operator has verified critical minimum manufacturing standards have been met.
One of our procedures is we run the first 50 packages, on every job regardless of qty, as samples. The first operator to set the job up is responsible for running the samples and delivering them to the Production Clerk, who then stickers and distributes them throughout the building.
I think having production folks spending time collecting samples is a complete waste of valuable throughput time. Customers don’t usually pay extra for collecting samples so it is extremely non value added work. If samples are important to a sales organization, find a way to ensure the majority of the effort is expended by the sales department. This usually helps to find out exactly how important those samples are. I think samples are something we have historically believed to be important but don’t consider the cost of collecting them.
It is the responsibility of the bindery finisher of the job (perfect binder, saddle stitcher, cutter or folder, etc.) to pull the predetermined amount of samples and put them in the 1) job envelope, 2) sales reps personal sample bins, and 3) sample closet bin. We have a very organized sample closet, which is coordinated monthly by the sales team so that each sales rep rotates putting samples in the proper bins based on varying paper specs. This is also a good way for the sales reps to see the variety of work being produced.
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