Posted by: AG | April 30, 2009

Quality Control – part four

Production systems

A printer’s production system embodies things like productivity, quality control, and communication. These three factors will all have a bearing on quality. But they are areas within each printer’s domain and help describe the overall management and operation of their workplace. So it’s not something that the average customer can understand. Yet it still helps to at least be conscious of how smooth the printing company operates.

Productivity, from your point of view as a print buyer, will reveal itself by such things as the outward efficiency of the company and the general attitude of its workers. You can often pick up clues to those if you ask for a tour of the plant: a spacious and clean atmosphere and workspace, quiet offices, smoothly running equipment, and pleasant personnel, would all be signs of efficiency and suggest good productivity.

Quality control is the power the printer has over your job, and of course every printer must have it to some degree. One shop will rely on press operators to work with the customer when doing press checks while another will have the sales rep or other supervisor handle those functions. But overall quality can be improved by simply asking the printer about the subject. When they realize that the customer, whom they’d like to keep for future work, really is concerned about quality control, they will make an extra effort to see that you get what you expect.

Communication is necessary to make sure you stay in close touch with the printer. They all have some communication channels which link production personnel with each other and link the printing company with you. So if problems arise you’ll be informed quickly: specifications may need to be changed by you on short notice; printing equipment breakdowns can cause delays with the job; even artwork or files can get damaged or corrupted.

Therefore you will need easy access to your sales rep so they can check on the status of your job through direct communication with their plant personnel. And these communication channels become even more critical when working with very large or distant companies, especially if language is an issue.

It’s true that this will be a lot for you to think about when shopping for a printer. Yet a good understanding of print production – its stages, divisions, and areas of responsibility – is essential when you have many printing companies to choose from. But remember, your ultimate goal is the printed material of the best quality possible. And the time you spend learning about production beforehand will be well rewarded.



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