Three Different In-plant Survival Tactics

In the April issue of IPG, three in-plants tell three different stories of turnaround and survival. One discusses how Lean production practices brought the in-plant back from a deficit. Another reveals how moving to high-end digital color equipment brought in a flood of new business, which saved the in-plant. And a third notes that becoming an educational lab and focusing on students spared the in-plant from outsourcing.

In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, University of Washington Creative Communications was $200,000 in the red. By slimming down via Lean process-improvement practices, the in-plant brought about positive and practical improvements that have repositioned the in-plant for profitability. It now has seven Lean teams, which have come up with numerous ideas for improvement.

“The unit has experienced a rebirth of sorts, one that has brought the organization together to develop a shared strategy and shared goals, and which has energized the staff in positive ways not seen before,” notes Ann Anderson, associate vice president and controller of financial management. The in-plant finished its 2010-2011 fiscal year with a $300,000 profit.

At The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the in-plant was losing lots of color printing business to local printers.

“Our quality just wasn’t good enough,” recalls Donna Cooper Horbelt, director of Auxiliary Enterprises, Printing and Media Services. So the in-plant decided to install a Xerox iGen4. The shop’s job count jumped from less than 6,000 in 2010 to more than 8,700 in 2011.

“My doors would have closed if I hadn’t moved to high-end color digital,” she contends.

In Mesa, Ariz., the Arizona State University Print & Imaging Lab has stayed strong by focusing on ASU’s core mission of education.

“We are an educational laboratory,” explains Cathy Skoglund, manager of operations and business development.

In her in-plant, students outnumber full-time employees 11-3. The hands-on experience they get helps prepare them for graphic arts jobs once they graduate.

“If [the in-plant] wasn’t an educational environment, [it] would have been long gone, replaced with outsourced printing,” she remarks. “But because it’s about the students and we’re providing education to students, it has secured my in-plant.”

Read these stories and more in the April issue of In-plant Graphics.

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