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Prize-winning Performance

December 1998

Boeing Printing and Micrographic Services

Seattle, Wash.

When an in-plant wins Best of Show in the annual IPG/IPMA In-Print contest, it's a sure sign of a top-notch, quality operation. But when a shop takes Best of Show four times in eight years, you know it's got to be one of the best in-plants in the country.

That's certainly the truth about Boeing's 111-employee Printing and Micrographic Services department, which won its fourth Best of Show in 1997. Lead by Derek Budworth, the operation has the heavy responsibility of maintaining thousands of active manuals for the aerospace giant's numerous aircraft. It's 65,000-square-foot facility is packed to the gills with digital and offset equipment.

Printing and Micrographic Services comprises three segments:

• Precision Printing, which produces four-color marketing materials.

• Micrographics, which creates and stores 16mm microfilm files.

• Publications Printing, which prints black-and-white maintenance and flight operations manuals, among other items. Keeping track of the numerous active manuals is a major task since there are more than two thousand of them, and any one manual may contain thousands of pages.

Managing such a huge operation is no easy task, Budworth reveals.

"One of the difficulties is trying to get a good handle on workload," he says. With so many jobs streaming in, staff must be shifted around to make sure all the work gets done.

Staying competitive is also a challenge. Budworth does job-by-job comparisons with outside printers and also does benchmark studies to make sure the in-plant's rates are competitive. Certain jobs like business cards and laminating are now outsourced because this was determined to be more cost-effective. An outsourcing study of the Publications Printing segment is currently being conducted to see if its work can be done more effectively outside.

"We continually look at our competitiveness with the outside," Budworth says.

Keeping up with technology is another a big issue. The in-plant recently bought a new 40˝ Fuji imagesetter, but not until after having some deep discussions on the viability of computer-to-plate solutions.

Despite its size, the in-plant is not opposed to expanding if it can offer new products or services cost effectively. Budworth is always on the lookout.

Recent company mergers with McDonnell Douglas and Rockwell have opened up interesting possibilities for the in-plant, since these operations have in-plants of their own. A corporate-wide print management team has been formed and has accomplished a major consolidation of vendors for copiers, high-speed duplicators and paper. Work has also been sent digitally to other locations where it was printed.


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