Harrier drives improvement and reduces waste using LEAN tools


Harrier LLC is the UK’s leading provider of digital print, photo print and gift products and provides a B2B fulfilment service to many of the country’s top photo brands, including market leader, Truprint.

From its Newton Abbot base in southwest England, Harrier LLC operates two state-of-the- art production sites, totalling 69,000 sq. ft, and has the capacity to mass produce bespoke photo products. Over 500 different lines are currently produced.

Operating within an environment of fast-moving technological change, the company already has a strong IT background, but must continually evaluate production processes and methodology in order to stay abreast of change and meet customer demand. Aiming to become the leading world-class provider of choice within the digital print marketplace, Harrier LLC has engaged LEAD to implement a Lean philosophy throughout the organisation as part of an on-going programme of continuous improvement.

Reducing waste in the Indigo Department

A Lean methodology had already been implemented successfully within the areas of
book production and paper waste, helping the company to make significant savings. Now Harrier LLC wished to utilise Lean tools within the Indigo Department, aiming to reduce waste, increase efficiency and make monetary savings.

Team ‘HMS Harrier’ was established to achieve this, using such tools as 8 Wastes methodology, Cause & Effect charts, 5S audits, Pareto analysis and Payback Matrix to gather data, identify issues and implement change.

Analysing waste

Initially, the team analysed three different areas of waste:

• Process waste: produced during calibration, cleaning, proof checking and start up

• Engineering waste: otherwise known as fault- finding by Harrier or HP engineers

• Non-process waste: generated during production by machine or operator error.

Their task was to validate data within the waste records, ensure waste was correctly recorded in an easy-to-understand format, and reduce non- process waste by 20%. From data recorded in the Indigo Department, they calculated that between November and December alone this 20% reduction would save around £4,000 in raw materials and 20 hours of machine time.

The main problems

The team found an ineffective waste recording system currently in place, which measured waste by weight rather than cost, with information not being used to drive improvements. There was also a lack of operator awareness as to the cost of waste and no communication between shifts. Colour complaints occurred on a regular basis, but given the department’s huge capacity, many issues remained hidden and were not investigated.

Making changes

Using a Lean methodology, the team rolled out a new waste recording system that measured the cost of waste, including click charges, and organised weekly reports to the Operations Director. Whenever waste costs rose above £200, an investigation would automatically take place. Waste costs were briefed to operators and the information gathered was used to help solve problems on an on-going basis. In addition, twelve core operators were fully trained and a new shift communication hand-over system was set in place. The problem of colour complaints was resolved and, over a 60-day period, no further complaints were received.

New Standard Operating Procedures were set in place that addressed such issues as paper stocks, time stamps and checking procedures, full colour calibration, cold starts and improved workflow. Colour registration issues had resulted in HP engineers being constantly on site over the last two months, but once the new procedure was trialled, less set up and test sheets were required, enabling Harrier LLC to recover costs from HP.

Quantifying waste costs

The new waste recording system analysed the reason for waste, showing the number of sheets wasted and the category into which they fell: pre-production damage, test, maintenance or machine operator error and the percentage this represented against the total number of sheets ran.

To show the efficiency of the new system, the team compared waste costs over a two week period before and after the new SOPs were set in place. Between 15th – 31st May 2012, using the old SOP, a total of 116,463 sheets ran, with 18.7% waste. Between 15th – 31st October 2012, a total of 422,615 ran, using the new SOP, which resulted in only 4% waste. Notably, 306,152 more sheets were produced with less waste. Extrapolating the trial savings across annual volumes gives an annual saving of £127,680 and a one-off Indigo Tier 3 charge saving of £45,000. This gives a total annual year one saving of £178,611.

Opportunities for further savings

With relevant data readily to hand, Harrier LLC now had the means to negotiate a better deal producing even further cost savings. The team also looked into the practicalities of deploying a similar system in every department as a vehicle for driving problem-solving, ensuring operator engagement and minimising waste, with regular discussion and investigation.

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