Ink Manufacturers Search For Continuous Improvement

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.14.09

We all have heard and read a great deal of information about the importance of becoming more efficient and more consistent in industry. Process systems such as Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Total Quality Management (TQM) and a variety of others have received much attention as stories of successes utilizing these processes have appeared.

The printing ink industry has taken note of these systems, and has begun to implement these processes. For example, Sun Chemical, Flint Ink and INX International Ink Company are three companies that are utilizing Six Sigma to improve their businesses. Wikoff Color Corporation has dedicated itself to Lean principles, and Color Converting Industries is a proponent of TQM and Dr. Eli Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints.

Each of these companies point to successes they are having through their systems, which can be found in “In Search of Continuous Improvement,” beginning on page 24. Indeed, these systems, if promoted with the zeal that is required by company executives, should provide tremendous results both short- and long-term.

Is Six Sigma, Lean manufacturing or any specific system the right answer for every company? The answer, quite honestly, is no. Six Sigma requires tremendous resources to succeed, including having full-time people committed exclusively to training and projects. While the benefits from these projects can be substantial, a smaller company simply does not have the personnel to set aside.

That does not mean that small companies cannot provide quality. The keys to any process improvement system boil down to becoming more consistent and more efficient in all business activities. In many cases, a small company has to do just that in order to survive.

Providing quality in all that a company does, whether it is in manufacturing or customer service, is first and foremost in order to succeed in business. For the larger ink companies, having a total commitment to implementing Six Sigma, Lean principles, TQM and other approaches makes a great deal of sense. For smaller companies, taking good care of all aspects of business will serve as well.

Either way, providing quality comes down to commitment, and the companies that are dedicated to continually improving their business are the ones that will ultimately succeed.

David Savastano
Ink World Editor