May '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 M A Y P R I N T W E A R 4 9 (SOP) established, so that all employees are aware how and why shop tools and ac- cessories are organized. Even smaller-ticket items are still an investment for the business to turn a profit, so every device should be treated as such. "It is up to management to make the time to train (employees) on all uses and proce- dures properly," suggests Howe. "This cuts down on waste, loss, and overuse of prod- ucts and supplies." Along with cutting down on waste, hav- ing a system in place helps ensure that the rest of order management and production workflows can operate with minimal hiccups and down- time. "When staff doesn't have to search for supplies, productivity increases," sug- gests PJ Bordner, Easiway Systems. Markey echoes this senti- ment and points out that the lack of organization with tools and supplies can also cause issues on the customer side. "Think of all that wast- ed time preparing a schedule only to spend more time rearranging that schedule to continue with production," he comments. While a shop might still be able to rush-order an item like, for example, a specific ink color to com- plete a customer order, it'll always ulti- mately be an extra cost to the business and a dent in profits. For setting up the organization of tools and accessories, parties recommend using some of the following approaches: Carts: Howe contends that every station in a shop should have their own designat- ed cart with all the tools and supplies they need. "These kit carts should be set up for all orders the night before for production the next day," says Howe. Lining each cart up with its supplies, be it screen tape, press cleaner, gloves, and other essentials ahead of time will ensure each day goes off with- out a hitch. Typically, these carts can be or- dered from the same suppliers shops order their tools from. Ink Walls: For screen-printing shops, having a system for organizing inks not only makes it easier to track down a specific color but ensures older inks are used up first to avoid spoilage. Markey points to his team's system, "Water-based and discharge inks and supplies are on a separate shelf, as are poly and standard plastisol inks." Thread and Hoop Section: For embroi- dery supplies, Markey suggests one wall dedicated to hoops and another for thread. Cleanup: While it might seem like an obvious step, the consensus is that keeping a shop clean makes a world of difference regardless of what type of system a decora- tor uses. Regular cleanup helps ensure that tools left out during the rush of an order build get returned to their proper stations, and picking up excess debris will avoid slips, trips, and falls from employees. Plus, a cleaner shop will help minimize machine breakdown that happens from the accu- mulation of dirt, grime, or dust inside the equipment. MEASURING IT With a system in place, it's important to cultivate a shop environment where em- ployees understand the importance behind the tools they're using, Landesman says. "As the saying goes, 'what gets measured gets done,'" he elaborates. "That makes things like sign-out sheets helpful for account- ability and tracking." Getting employees to minimize waste and act like they are the ones buying each gallon of ink is a matter of company culture, Landesman adds. Getting "buy-in" from staff takes on many forms, like discussing the environmental impact of wastefulness, as well as the overall impact on the health of the business. Markey suggests measur- ing consumables used against results to reinforce this cul- ture. "For instance, we find it easiest to measure reclaim and chemical usage," he says. "Take the number of screens reclaimed over a given period of time and reference the amount of chemicals used to achieve that result. You should get a pretty good idea of normal usage after about 250–300 reclaims." Ideally, if a shop keeps in mind that every tool comes back to helping their bottom line, they'll be on the right path to growing a successful business. Howe stresses, "(Shop tools) are small expenditures that bring big dividends," and the more decorators keep this in mind, the smoother operations will run. PW Employees should be trained to understand that all tools in the shop, regardless of size, are an investment for the business. (Image courtesy Easiway Systems)

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