What’s your Print on Demand business stage?

What’s your Print on Demand business stage?

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to spend time in ‘many’ plants across the world – from high-tech high-automation plants to high labor-low hourly rate sites and run workshops on the ‘plant of the future’ with some very large sites.  Across these sites I’ve seen all sorts of different management strategies to achieve different control and margin outcomes and widely varying automation techniques applied seeking to achieve efficiency gains.

So I looked around for a tool or framework to help me plot what I was observing and find a common language around where the sites are at in their journeys and how evolved they were.

The best I could find was the CMMI model created by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.  It’s a process improvement tool for projects, divisions, or organizations and used by some of the big global consulting outfits. 

How does it work, in reality? To be honest – I don’t like it – the CMMI model is too theoretical for our industry.  It’s used a lot but I found  it too abstract and far too academic for print on demand.

So we created a print on demand industry version based on what we were observing and mapped it to the CMMI model and defined how ZenSmart saw the evolution of a site from immaturity to an advanced state.

We believe that in order to evolve from ‘adhocracy’ (daily individual best-judgment) to best practice predictive manufacturing, there’s a series of stages to evolve through.

We propose that evolving to best practice begins with moving beyond an ad hoc workflow state and beautifully harmonizing people, machines and materials to achieve on time, every time capability through embedded business rules and consistent work practices and then developing a committed high performance culture, evolving to embrace (and not fear) agility before moving to a real time, real cost understanding across every slice of the business and range. Only then, do you have the building blocks in place to get to the predictive manufacturing stage (noting I have never seen a site get beyond Agile Change). 

It’s an evolution but at each stage of the evolution – profound reduction in cost should be achieved (and measurable).  I hope the model sparks some reflection.

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the CEO of ZenSmart, a leading workflow automation platform that streamlines manufacturing in On Demand plants across the world.


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