Nationwide Laminating & Finishing
Nationwide Laminating & Finishing: Helpful Tips

Speed Up Outsourcing Turnaround Times. And Save!

Published in Print & Graphics

Have you turned away jobs because a vendor can't help you meet a tight deadline? Can you improve your outsourcing turnaround times and get more work through your plant? Here are some easily implemented and important steps you can take which will allow your finishing and binding partners to help you complete more work faster and with less headaches.

Be proactive and speed up outsourcing turnaround times. It's amazing how many jobs could have been turned around faster and cheaper . if only certain questions were asked in advance.

Save time and money by including your finishing and binding vendor at the job planning stage. Describe the product's end use. For example, if your laminating job requires excessive paper handling, increasing the weight of the paper and reducing the laminate thickness should decrease your production time and cost. Our company recently produced a time sensitive reference card for the government. This 250,000 piece job had specifications calling for a 24lb. offset sheet with 3-mil laminate and a one week turnaround. To make the fixed deadline, we suggested increasing the weight of the paper and reducing the laminate to 1.7mil. Our customer agreed and achieved both cost savings and a 30% faster turnaround time - without sacrificing product strength or utility. In short, we reduced this 8-day job to 5 days, made the delivery date without a hitch and saved taxpayer money in the process.

If you are new to a particular post press function, call for information before committing ink to paper. The old adage - better safe than sorry - is as true today as ever. Recently, a company without much laminating experience sent us a crack & peel, one-sided laminating job. Without knowing the proper side and gripper requirements required for one-sided laminating, they produced the job and sent it to us with very unpleasant results. Their job had to be reprinted because it arrived on our dock trimmed to final size. In short, get full production requirements before you set ink on paper. What may appear to be an expensive printing layout, may save you a tremendous amount of cost, time and aggravation . after the job leaves your plant.

The opposite can also be true. Sometimes inexperienced post press buyers over-engineer their products and waste money in the process. For example, we cringe at all the laminating jobs we receive printed on expensive coated sheets with varnish. Usually, this extra printing effort won't enhance a laminated product's appearance at all. True, occasionally there is a legitimate printing need for using a #1 coated sheet, but most of the time, it's just wasted expense and effort on your part.

Get advice from your finisher regarding how many up you should layout small quantity jobs. Stripping for efficiency on press may cost you more time and money at the post press stage. For example, last month a printer called us for a 1,500 piece, 2-up job, on an 8 ½" x 11" sheet, with 3-mil laminate, flush cut and trimmed to 5-1/4" x 8-1/4" final size. We asked if they could lay it out 4-up on an 11" x 17" sheet. They did, and in this case, our laminating cost savings were much greater than our customer's additional stripping costs. After the job was produced, we were informed that our recommendation saved our customer 13% of their total production cost.

For large jobs, make an extra set of blue lines and bulking dummies for your post press vendor and give it to them as soon as possible - especially if they need to order materials such as wire, laminate, glue, etc. When customers don't give trade finishers and binderies much advance notice, they needlessly end up paying for rush production and shipping charges. However, if we order supplies early enough, your cost savings can easily be hundreds or thousands of dollars. For example, special order slit laminate material can dramatically reduce production cost, but requires advance notice.

In addition to sending a PO, blue lines and rule-up sheets, ask your vendors if they have a sales order form. These forms are usually internal documents that specify all the information they need to produce your job efficiently and effectively. Giving your suppliers this information allows them to completely plan your job while it's in their shop. Filling out this form will reduce telephone tag, protect you in the case of miscommunication and give you a greater sense of comfort once the job is out of your sight.

When your post press cost is a large percentage of your total job size, always include acceptable overs and unders on your PO. For small run jobs, you might not think much of printing more overs than you really need, but if you don't specify when your post press supplier should stop production, you will be charged for more product than you can bill. Obviously, this is a needless waste of money and production time.

Many graphic arts companies use courier and overnight services like water. Smaller jobs couriered to our company often could have been sent via UPS instead - and we still would have made the deadline. Put this extra cost in your pocket by choosing your post press suppliers for their turnaround speed. Many finishing and binding companies routinely offer 24-hour job turnaround at no additional cost. If yours doesn't, find one that does.

Rather than jobbing out post press components, save time and money by looking for suppliers that offer one stop shopping. The minimal cost savings achieved by brokering out individual post press functions often is lost by increased transit spoilage, paperwork, shipping costs, and wasted time - not to mention lack of accountability when something goes wrong. Whenever possible, have one trusted vendor handle a job for you - so you can sleep easily at night.

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Turn your vendors' capabilities into your strategic advantage. Good communication is the first step. When you enthusiastically say, "yes, we can," you will win more jobs, turn them around on time, be more profitable and have more fun on the job.

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