print like a chef
By Frank Burgos
On Sunday mornings, I slow down a little. I read, have coffee, and take time making myself a nice breakfast. It’s a little ritual. A meditation.
In the kitchen, I practice “mise en place”, a French term used by chefs, and I gather all the ingredients and tools I’ll need before I crack the first egg. I want to focus only on cooking. I want the cooking process to flow smoothly. I want everything ready when I need it, where I need it. I don’t want to be stressed. I’m not on a make-that-breakfast-in 15-minutes-or-you-will-die cooking show.
This past Sunday, it dawned on me that 'mise en place' is like having resources ready in advance of a job set-up, except we printers use the terms “staging” or “pre-make-ready.” The meaning is the same: Have everything ready.
When things are where they need to be, when they need to be there, in the condition they need to be in, job set-ups proceed smoothly. There’s no panic; no haste; no forgetting details. The quality tends to be on the better side of what’s possible and more consistent. More product flows through the press every month.
But, when an operator gathers materials, blends ink, mounts plates, etc., as part of setting up a job, the experience is often quite the opposite and can even erode morale. I’ve done it. It feels like all you can do is never enough, because the press is down while you’re preparing.
Not all shops can afford to have staff dedicated to ensuring that everything is always ready in advance for operators; especially smaller shops. However, the benefits can be significant. As your business grows, put in place a metric that indicates when the time is right, or re-evaluate from time to time, whether it makes sense. As soon as it does, pull the trigger. Time spent by supporting staff members should translate to press running time that more than makes up for the additional labor and gets more product out the door.
I enjoy my Sunday breakfast ritual, and as much as I love printing, I’d rather be fishing. But when I print, setting up a job that has been staged, achieving excellent quality immediately, running the job at top speed and feeling great when the whole job comes off, without a hitch, is as satisfying as a difficult, wonderful job gets.
When the time is right... relax. Print like a chef!
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Frank Burgos is a 30+ year veteran of the flexographic printing industry. Currently he offers on-site training & consulting to flexo printing companies worldwide.