It’s All About the Nickels
Every year I look forward to making the pilgrimage to PRINTING United (formerly the SGIA Expo) for the latest and greatest in decorated apparel, and to remind me of the little things I tend to forget. I often call those little victories “nickels.”
Those nickels are the best way I have found to improve my screen printing business, Mind’s Eye Graphics (MEG). We run a pretty efficient operation, and the low-hanging improvement fruit has mostly been harvested. I haven’t given up on the major efficiency improvements; however for the last several years our productivity improvements have been made in small increments, those nickels I’m talking about.
Therefore, I tend to leave the social aspects of attending the biggest show in our industry to evening activities, and make sure I have prepared for the show by reviewing our daily production activities and doing some very basic cost studies on the production loops where we interact with every aspect of screen print production.
You must do your homework to find the most nickels on the trade show floor. Remember, if you do 100 screens a day and you find three nickels to save on each screen cycle, you just dropped $3,750 to your bottom line as a reward for your quest. Imagine the cost savings as you find more of those important nickels in other production loops.
After you have done your research, I challenge you to have a list of nine actionable items: three that you know will make an immediate improvement, three more that you want to learn more about, and the final three items on the “crazy, but it might just work” list.
I have my “high-tech to do” lists — I am still a 3x5" card guy, and am slowly evolving to keeping a “to do” list in my phone. It does not matter which you choose to use, but write everything down, because if you don’t write it down it’s not real.
Mindlessly wandering the show floor is a waste of time; you need to use the show app. Plan your route to make the most efficient use of time as you search for the top nine things on your continuous improvement list.
I have been writing with the assumption that you did all your continuous improvement homework prior to your trip to PRINTING United. If you’ve got your lists, use them; if not, it is not too late to sit down with industry friends at the show and ask what their biggest continuous improvement victories have been, then hit the show floor in search of similar victories.
Your job for your PRINTING United trip is to find ways to do things faster, better, and more efficiently. Every improvement you make in process flows directly to the bottom line. My best to you as you save tons of nickels with this trade show strategy!