A Very Positive Move for MUHC Document Services
What more can an in-plant manager want than a 3,800-sq.-ft. print shop that, apart from having adequate space for production functions, also includes private offices for management, a meeting room and a kitchenette/lounge for employees? How about a 6,500-sq.-ft. facility that has ample space for production, has private offices for management and key support staff, has a nicer employee kitchenette/lounge and a receiving dock with hydraulic lift? These are just some of the improvements that were made when McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Document Services had to relocate just over a year ago.
Located in Montreal, Quebec, MUHC is a merger of five major hospitals and several smaller offsite facilities such as clinics and administrative offices. The in-plant was previously located on the ground floor of a 14-story office building that was completely occupied and leased by the MUHC in downtown Montreal. Two years ago the MUHC had to go out to tender as the lease on the office building was expiring. The result forced most of the occupants of that building to relocate. Despite the enormous effort and amount of work it took to move the in-plant, the outcome was the best thing that could have happened to ensure its long-term survival.
A Busy, Productive Shop
The in-plant is managed by Abel De Andrade, a bright, diligent and affable fellow whose dedication to managing the print shop is second only to his dedication to his young family. The in-plant is a busy, productive shop that serves not only the group of organizations under the MUHC umbrella but also insources from other health care groups in Montreal. It is staffed by a group of dedicated and hard-working employees who truly care about the service they provide to the health care organization.
Apart from printing, the department also provides document management services and confidential document destruction as well as translation services. (Being an English organization in a French province, this is mandatory.)
The in-plant of the MUHC has a long-standing reputation for efficiency, great customer service, ingenuity and financial stability. It was the first in-plant in the Quebec health care network to go digital back when Xerox led the way. It had successfully merged three in-plants into one location and took on new functions in document management. With full cost-recovery as its budgetary target, insourcing has always been a way to offset its costs and has helped put the department in a surplus position year after year. Due to this track record and his stellar reputation within the organization, De Andrade was given access to the architects, engineers and contractors throughout the entire planning and construction process in order to ensure that the new facility would be built exactly as he wanted.
De Andrade had been very much involved in the previous in-plant’s relocation about nine years ago. At first the space was adequate for its needs, but it soon became crowded and cramped as new and larger equipment was purchased. Having learned from that, he made sure that the space would not only accommodate his present situation but would also meet the needs of his short- and long-term plans for expansion. How to divide that space up for all the different functions was the challenge especially considering that he was also acquiring a lot of new equipment at the same time.
De Andrade started with a list of must-haves:
- Separate reception office
- Spacious, open production area with logical workflow
- HVAC system with humidity control
- Dedicated packing and shipping area
- Receiving dock with hydraulic lift
- Kitchenette/lounge for employees
- Private offices for administrative and key support staff
- Project room
- Stock room for high-usage forms
- Dedicated room for wide-format printing and mounting
All of this was achieved, plus he acquired additional space for storing semi-active documents as well as a small room for miscellaneous office supplies.
Embracing Lean Concepts
Key to the layout of the space was efficient workflow. Using what he learned from studying Lean (he has a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma) De Andrade designed the space for maximum efficiency. The four digital production printers were placed in a U-shape so that one technician can manage them all. And as you could tell from the list of must-haves, there is no mention of a stock room for paper. All paper is kept at the point of use in the production area either on skids as they are received from the supplier or placed on shelves that envelop the area. Workflow follows a straight line. Once printed, job orders are rolled over to the finishing area and then to the packing and shipping area. Although print-on-demand rules the day, several high usage items are produced for stock and managed by a kanban system. Stock items are clearly labeled on shelves.
The building was not designed for a printing facility and hence it did not have a shipping dock. This meant that deliveries of skids of paper would have had to come in through the main entrance of the building and be carted through a public corridor on the main floor. So De Andrade put a receiving dock on his list of must-haves. A large opening was cut into the side of the building and a hydraulic lift was purchased to allow delivery trucks of all sizes to access the dock safely and enter directly in his department.
A corridor separates the production side from the office area, which includes the offices of the manager, the graphic designer, the translator and the document management specialists. There is also a project room, a wide-format room, a semi-active document storage room, a forms storage room and the employee lounge.
New Equipment and Web-to-Print
The larger space allowed for the addition of new equipment. A Xerox Versant 2100 digital color press was added to the color section while keeping the existing Xerox 700 digital color press as a back-up. A new Xerox D125 copier/printer was added while renewing the contract on the Nuvera 144EA. All of them run off of the Xerox Freeflow Print Servers.
In the finishing section De Andrade added a Duplo DC-646 slitter/cutter/creaser, a Graphic Wizard Finishmaster perforator, a Challenge MS-5 five-hole punch, a Challenge single cornering machine and an Allen-Bradley Panelview C600 spiral hole punch and coiler. The existing Challenge Champion 305 cutter was kept as was the single-hole punch.
And although the shop already had a Xerox wide-format printer, a new 60˝ HP Designjet Z6600 printer was recently added.
A Web-to-print system called PrintSYS from Prisme Technologies Inc. has been in use for more than 10 years. Apart from allowing client submission of printing orders, a variety of catalog items such as forms and supplies are available for the end-user to order as well as personalized business cards and other items. PrintSYS is almost a household word at the MUHC and can be accessed via the corporate Intranet. The company thrives on ingenuity and is constantly adding new modules that help to increase efficiency.
Automation and Job Tracking
One such module was recently added called PrintSYS Production Automation or PPA. While the main function of this module is to automate print jobs by sending them directly to the appropriate printer based on the specs of the order, the in-plant is currently using it for its other feature: tracking job orders.
Seconds after a client submits an order in PrintSYS, a job ticket is automatically printed by the system on a designated printer at the order desk. After validating the order, the order desk employee scans the barcode and assigns an appropriate status to the order such as “pending production,” “prepress” or “waiting for originals.” Each employee in the workflow then assigns an appropriate status such as “in production,” “finishing” or “packing.”
Once the order is packed and shipped, the employee in that section assigns the status “delivery completed” and the order is automatically closed. The status of each order of the entire workload is viewable on the dashboard in real time. In addition to this, the system also keeps track of which item was packed in which box that was picked up on which day. In the past, when clients called to say they never received their orders it was difficult to prove that they were in fact produced and shipped. Today the department can track exactly what was produced and delivered each day thanks to the PPA.
Helping to Manage Workflow
With a simple command in the PPA the manager or any employee can see exactly how many orders there are at any time in every one of the statuses, thus helping to identify where the bottlenecks are and potentially reassigning employees to assist in those areas. To further increase efficiency De Andrade recently ordered a module that will send an email alert to the client at any stage of the production process. This will help to reduce telephone calls from clients inquiring about the status of their orders. In a future upgrade of PrintSYS, the real-time status of orders could be available directly to clients online.
Representatives of the company worked closely and diligently with the staff of the in-plant to ensure that they understood the system. They emphasized how imperative it was that no steps be skipped, which would give a false reading of the workflow. To date, employees have adapted well. It was the first major change to their workflow routine in a long time so patience and perseverance were key.
Health care in Quebec is government run and funded. Recently it divided the health care network on the island of Montreal into five sections called Integrated Health and Social Services Centres. Each of these centers oversees anywhere from 30 to 50 different organizations and health care facilities. This major reorganization of our system presented interesting opportunities for insourcing for MUHC’s in-plant.
To date, it has become the main supplier for one of those integrated centers and is currently pursuing two more. The advantages for the network are many, including the fact that the money stays within the network. The in-plant understands the business of health care and only works for health care and nonprofits (no commercial work is carried out).
The new location, equipment and evolving Web-to-print system make it possible to actively pursue these opportunities knowing that, along with a skilled team, the MUHC’s Document Services department will be able to handle the expected increase in workload and offer a top-notch service for years to come.
Related story: Relocating Your In-plant
Carmin Cristofaro works as a part-time sales representative/consultant for the McGill University Health Centre’s in-plant. He managed the in-plant for 18 years before he retired.