Idle Chat




Posted: 7 July 2010

I thought I would post this topic under idle chat, as I am more interested in knowing what other MF users are doing for scheduling. Didn't want to put this under wish lists because I don't want to interrupt the wide format module development. I did a search on PrintPlanet and it seems most shops either have a billion dollar system or use a manual board. There were several posts by Hal, so I know how he feels about it, plus I believe we discussed it before on this forum.

So, I didn't want to post this on PrintPlanet because I figured I would get those two extremes. I want to know specifically what MF users are doing to integrate their workflow and scheduling. It seems my days are spent walking job jackets around and erasing/rewriting on my dry erase board. I end up with no time for production. As some of you may know, I am a one man shop that is all digital. Naturally, orders are out the door as fast as they come in.

Sorry for the long post. I am getting frustrated with the lack of timeliness and inefficiency here at my shop and I don't know what to do. Even if one person responds with a " Stop being a cry-baby!" that will probably help.

. . . . .  Keith
"Stop being a cry-baby!"

Keith, I am in much the same boat as you are, small shop (although more than just a one man show), resources are limited, and frustrated by the lack of automation. I could almost use a full time person to enter orders and invoice, sometimes it takes as long to enter the information into MF as it does to run the job. Tracking the orders in MF just doesn't make sense for me, at least at this time. I am interested in some feedback as well.

. . . . .  Craig

That's exactly how it is at my shop! I was starting to think I was the only one. I think I spend at least four hours a day taking orders, doing estimates, etc. And then all of a sudden it's 4 pm and you're like, "Holy crap! I still have to print three jobs and finish them by tomorrow! And I haven't eaten lunch!" Yeah, I'm very much stuck working IN the business and have no time left to work ON the business. Yesterday, it finally dawned on me EXACTLY how I could use some automation in my current workflow ... and then I saw the price tag. My resources are limited too. I share your frustration.

As for tracking, sometimes it feels like it slows me down because after I do a bunch of work, I'll finally remember to sit down and update it. On the other hand, I'm glad I do it though because when I go in to work the next day, I remember what jobs need to be done and where they're at. This is going to sound blasphemous, but I thought of going paperless (AAARRRGGGHHH! It hurts just to say it!) because I feel that getting up to get the job jacket and then grabbing the tickets out of the printer so I can then walk over to the schedule and hang the jacket takes soooo much time. Like you, Craig, sometimes I get the job done faster than I can put it into MF.

Anybody else have any thoughts, opinions, advice, rant, or a $200 automation program ...

. . . . .  Keith

Ah yes, I remember those one man shop days! Glad to be past that. I had slanted file boxes on the wall. I would put them at each station. First the in box, art and type box. Dark room, press, and bindery. There was a box for out sourced work also. We us the system now with a few added such as a proof box. All job info is in a clear job jacket that moves though the shop.

There is a pull plates and burn plates box as well. There are boxes for each press. Envelopes go to that press job box. If it is a copy job it goes to the copy box when ready to run. I run a job log from MF to remind me what is in house. I have people who really do all the work. I just make sure the pricing is right and pay them.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

For those who are entering orders into MF, I have a question. Do you have a dedicated person(s) entering orders as they come in? How are you handling it? We may get 10 to 30 orders/re-orders a day, it seems awful time consuming, but we may be doing something wrong, too.

. . . . .  Craig

We are going to put a computer at the front counter where the girls can enter the jobs as they come in. Right now it is put on a paper order sheet at first. We have some customers who may order 10 jobs at once. One girl will take all the orders from the phone or fax. She will then go to a computer and go to reorder and start to put them in MF as orders. It is really fast if it is reorder.

We run MF on one computer but we access it from two others. We have had no problems doing it this way. So it can be entered from any of the three. I oversee the control of MF and make sure it has all the right info. It takes three of use to do the job. More of a team thing. As they get trained they do more and more of the work. As you know there are some things you have to set up yourself. So it is nice to have help.

The good thing is once it is used, if someone makes a mistake it is easy to fix. If the wrong paper is used it is easy to change. That is why I really like the reorders. They have all the info already. I look at ALL jobs to make sure they are right though. So the bottom line is help is good and MF makes it fast and easy for all to use. Hal did make it like this for a good reason. A fine job too!

By the way Craig, 12 reorders can be done in about 15 min. Remember to put a name in the product line or key word line to tell you what it is when you scroll through job. We do medical forms and I enter the name. Such as DPT Vaccine Spanish. That tells me what form and that it is the Spanish version. Then when you scroll it is easy to find.

Oops, sorry this got so long. Well hope it was some help. Good luck!

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Thanks, Jerry! We desperately need to get a system together now, it's enough to drive me crazy!

. . . . .  Craig

Welcome. Let me know if we can be of help.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Well, I don't know if this will help, but I had MF installed on my network and my Mac is right next to the PC. So, I would stop doing my work every five minutes so I could reach across my desk and check the email and do an estimate with MF. I think that made it feel like an all day job.

Well, that PC just got wiped clean and reformatted. MF got moved to the laptop in the press room. Now, my arm is too short to reach for the laptop that is over 40 feet away. Every hour hour and a half, I get up and go to MF and check my email and enter orders into MF and do estimates. Don't know if that is more efficient as it's only been two days but it feels like it's working so far.

Again, it's me and a part-timer who is getting trained to use MF so I can focus on other things at the shop. Jerry is right, reorders are easy. So are jobs that you have a product for in MF. It's when they ask for a product that is not already in your system or a paper you don't stock. No matter what estimating program you're using, that is going to take some time. ("What in the world is Meadow Green Felt?! And they want MATCHING ENVELOPES? Who the hell is going to carry that! AAARRRGGGHHH!")

. . . . .  Keith

You had to bring up the estimate and the product or paper is not in it yet. Yeah, I hate that too, Keith! Sure can be a pain. You think you got it and in comes a curve. I say it is all Hal's fault. Now just think if we didn't have MF!

. . . . .  jerryjfm