5 Tips To Reduce Setup Time

Business Lessons

Does your team spend more time setting up and tearing down jobs than actually printing? Now we've got you thinking about it. Set up time adds up. So does tear down time. It is costly and can drain your uptime in your shop. 

In the Podcast, How I Built this, hosted by Guy Raz,  Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher,  discusses how he was able to get one more flight per day on his original flight loops when he was first getting started. That one more flight per day made him profitable. To get one more flight per day out, he focused on the turn around time when his flights arrived at the gates. His theory states that if his planes are in the air, Southwest Airlines is making money; when they are on the ground, they are not. So Herb focused on how he could get his planes in the air faster.

The same approach can be taken in your business starting now. Let's think through setups and how minor changes can make instrumental changes to keeping your presses running at your shop. 

Invest in Registration Systems

Whether it is Tri-Loc or a Positive Registration Unit, if you spend time burning screens properly, set up time goes down drastically. Maybe you are not ready to go direct-to-screen, there are still great tools you can purchase to speed up registration.  It might be expensive up front, but minutes turn into hours and the dollars and cents will add up. It will be less stressful and tedious for your screen printers and they will enjoy registering jobs. Make sure to print out registration marks!

Create Detailed Pre-Press Instructions

If there is less room for assumptions in your setups, the jobs will go faster! Create a simple sheet that outlines exactly how the job should be set up and printed. Assign screens to specific heads so there are fewer variables in your jobs. Your press operators will follow them like spec sheets.  Get creative and create a carousel template that your screen burners fill out so they can assign under base and highlight screens with specific ink colors and head locations. Label your ink colors  and presses specifically so there is no guessing. 

Budget Time for Setup & Tear Down

Your press operators may glamour at how fast presses are running, but they might find the time in between as an unmeasurable limbo. Capitalize on this by denoting how long they should be working on setup. Maybe it's 5 minutes per screen so a 5 color job has 25 min to get ready. Perhaps you make a 3 minute per screen budget for tear down. Begin to log this so everyone can be held accountable.

Pre-Ink Your Screens

That's right, you heard it.  On orders that will only require "inking" the screens once, fill your screens up with ink so your press operators do not have to spend time adding ink to the screens. This eliminates bringing messy ink buckets around clean garments. Your printers will be happier and your jobs will start much quicker.  The person burning and setting screens can properly select which ink goes to which screen that way there is less discrepancy. 

Track It, Again. 

If you don't track something, how can you get faster? Create a job log on each press so you know how many shirts were printed, and how long it took. When you begin to track and collect data, you can begin to fine-tune the inner workings of your shop. Naturally, your team will become more conscious of time and will work smarter in the shop. Overtime you can begin to optimize your workflow. 


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