VOLUME 17 ISSUE 2 Spring 2001

Table of Contents

One-Stop Shopping with Your PDF Files and T-S

We’ve been talking for quite some time now about Portable Document Format (PDF) and encouraging you to use it. With PDF you can create one file and from that one file be able to distribute your material either in printed form or electronic form. Our goal is for you to be able to send us your digital files and allow us to meet your communication needs whether that be Print On Demand (POD), offset printing, or file distribution to the Internet. Since the last issue of Printer’s Ink, we’ve taken a couple more steps toward being able to meet that goal. 

• Print On Demand •

Print On Demand or Digital Printing is now a reality through Thomson-Shore. For the last few months we have been working through the various technical aspects to bring a new service to our customers. Whether your purpose is to get a few dozen copies of your book printed quickly to exhibit at a show or to print a hundred copies of an old title just to keep it in print, digital printing is the way to go. 

Some of you will remember many years ago when T-S had a short-run system. That system was basically a glorified copy machine. Technology sure has improved since those days as this digital printing system outputs directly from your files. For a book of solid text, the end result is a finished product that in many ways can be compared to regular offset printing. The one area you might see some reduction in quality is in halftone reproduction; however, digital printing has come a long way and even the halftones will surprise you. 

In addition to the text being printed digitally, the covers are also created in this same way. The cover printer prints everything using 4-color process so if you have any pantone colors they will be converted to their process equivalents. 

We can produce jobs from 25 copies up to 500; however, if you are in the top part of that range and have questions about whether you should go with offset or digital printing, have us price it both ways so you can make a more informed decision. 

Trim sizes for digital printing range from a minimum of 5 x 8 to a maximum of 8.5 x 11. Currently, we can provide perfect binding and saddle stitching, but case binding should be available soon. Text stocks available include 50# white offset, 60# white offset, and 50# Writers offset natural. For cover stocks we offer both 10 pt. and 12 pt. C1S, with gloss lamination. 

The preferred submission for text files is Output-Ready PDF; however, we can take application files or PostScript files. Covers should be provided as application files. The reason for this is so we can use these same files for offset printing if so desired at a later date. Remember our goal is to receive your files, archive them, and use them for whatever additional needs you might have in the future. 

The estimated time for books from receipt of your complete order is two weeks. Our goal is to improve upon this cycle time, but to start out with, two weeks will be our commitment to you when you furnish Output Ready PDF files. Once your order is completed, we are also able to offer fulfill ment. Whether you need a single copy sent to 200 separate individuals, or you need 20 copies sent to each of 5 destinations, we will be able to provide these services for your POD orders. 

• ebrary •

Many of you may be familiar with ebrary and what this service will provide; in fact, several of our customers have already partnered with ebrary. 

ebrary provides publishers a means to post their materials in an online library. Users from the Internet can search for a topic and then view it on screen, or for a cost, purchase a digitally printed version of that title or portions of it. Our PDF requirements are similar enough that it allows us to manipulate our “Output-Ready PDF” files to meet ebrary criteria. There will be a flat rate for us to ensure that your files conform to ebrary specifications. 

If you have further questions about joining up with ebrary, please look them up on the web at www.ebrary.com. 

We are very excited with these opportunities to service our customers through digital printing and delivering files to ebrary. Our purpose in providing these services is to better meet the needs of our customer base. Offset printing is still our core business and will remain so for years to come, but as we find new ways to use technology to better meet your needs, we will continue to offer new products and services. We want you to think of us as your one-stop shop for all your printing and digital file distribution needs.  

-Todd Gaffner, Customer Care

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A Look into the Scheduling Side of T-S

I started in the Scheduling Department in January 1988. At that time T-S scheduled jobs through the plant with lead times for each department being our driving factor. The theory was each department needed a certain number of days to complete a job no matter what the size of the job was. Needless to say, we then added to that number of days as the page and/or halftone count grew. When customers were demanding, we tried to cut time out of our schedules, at that time we felt we were doing the best we could . . . and then came Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Synchronous Flow Management (SFM). 

TOC was officially introduced to T-S in February 2000, and since then we have made a lot of changes . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself. First let me explain what TOC is and then I can get into how it affected Thomson- Shore. 

Theory of Constraints is a concept that states, “the constraint in the system controls the amount of throughput for the entire system.” The first step to making TOC work was to IDENTIFY our constraint. This was a little difficult for us at the time because we had work stacked everywhere. That told us our first constraint was people. We didn’t have the right amount of people to get the work out the door. We determined that we needed to fill approximately 45 new positions, and when we did, this helped us get the work off the floor. We were then able to see where work was backing up. After a little trial and error we determined that the text presses were our physical constraint. 

So that brought us to the second step, EXPLOIT the constraint. There was only a certain amount of work we could get through the text presses. Having the press be the constraint worked out to be a good thing for us since this is midway through the production process and it was a natural Point Of Control (POC) to build our new scheduling process around. After the hiring was complete, we exploited this constraint by reorganizing workteams so that we would no longer lose production due to short staffing. We also exploited the constraint by working with the text press operators to improve their efficiencies, and they have done an outstanding job! They have raised their efficiencies from 75% a year ago to 97% so far this year. 

The next step is to SUBORDINATE to the constraint. At this point the other areas needed to know what they could do to help keep the POC loaded. If you run out of work at the POC, you lose throughput for the entire system. We did this in various ways. As I stated earlier with people, we increased the capacity in the prepress and post press areas to be able to produce at least four additional jobs per day more than the press. This created protective capacity in these areas and helped the work to flow through. We also created a position, Buffer Coordinator, to facilitate communication between press and the rest of the company. And to take it further, we created teams in every step of the plant to identify stopping points, processes that are outdated, and to review new processes that needed to be implemented. 

The fourth step is to ELEVATE the constraint. We replaced one of our older Heidelberg ZP presses with a newer version and we kept the older press as a back up. This gives us the ability to turn the backup press on when the workload is heavy and keep the work flowing through. This brings us to the final step . . . well kind of. 

The last step is to START OVER. This is a circle, a never-ending process of on-going improvement. We are confident this is not just “a flavor of the month.” We have not only seen improvements in schedules, cutting from a 6-8 week schedule down to a 3-4 week schedule consistently, but also in morale. The more people have been involved, the more interest they display in the WHOLE process. It has been really interesting to watch different departments not only participating in what can be changed in their area, but also making suggestions for other areas as well. 

The best part about this whole concept is that it’s not just a “manufacturing change,” the whole company had to change. Our accounting department had to switch their whole department out of “cost world” thinking to “throughput world” thinking. This meant changing over every balance sheet, every spreadsheet, and everybody’s old thought pattern. No small feat let me tell you. The purchasing department had to change from “we have plenty of time to get the materials here” to a faster, “just in time delivery” work pattern. This required a lot of discussions with vendors to speed up their deliveries. I’m sure you are noticing that Customer Care is contacting you on proof returns, furnished items, or shipping instructions a lot more often. In the past we had so much work in process that there wasn’t the sense of urgency to pull on any of you. We are now at a point where we need your help to continue to improve. 

Our goal in scheduling is to create “reliable and predictable” schedules for all of our customers. We call this “Finite Scheduling” which to us means to match the customer’s needs with the finite capacity of our system. To do this we need a little more information than we have requested in the past. We plan on a 24-hour turn around when the proofs are sent out. If you require a longer turn around time for proofs, please advise your Customer Service Representative when you send the job in, and we can build that time into the schedule. We also need to know when furnished items will arrive in our plant. All of this is taken into account when we schedule the job. You can also help improve the process, if you are comfortable with the files you have supplied to us, by changing some or all of your proofs to “confirming” instead of “for approval.” This will shorten your schedules and keep work flowing through the plant. All of these improvements are helping us produce “reliable and predictable” schedules for your next job. I could go on and on with more changes but I think the bottom-line is that TOC is working! I hope you’re as excited about it as we are. It’s definitely given scheduling a whole new spin and I’m enjoying each new challenge along the way. 

-Terri Kesling, Scheduling 

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New Website Features

We’ve recently added a couple of new features to our website to provide you with better service. First, we’ve updated our quote request form. Secondly, we created an online Customer Status report to track jobs that are at T-S. Here are the specifics.

• Online Quote Request Form

For those who have used our previous quote request form, you should find this one more complete and user friendly. Instead of a one page form that was hard to understand and very limited as far as choices, the new form is divided into separate pages which helps you to document in detail the specifications for your project. There are various tabs at the left showing where you have been and where you are headed in completing the quote request, and once you’ve entered information, it is easy to go back and edit it. When you select a certain option, the choices for that option become customized. For example, when you select casebinding, the tab for cover information goes away and you see tabs for both cloth cover and jackets. This allows us to get the information we need without forcing you to read questions that won’t pertain to your job. 

There are instructions at the beginning and help menus throughout the process. We feel this new form will help us provide you with accurate quotes, while also giving you the confidence that you are getting a price on your exact specifications. This new quote request is now available at www.tshore.com.

• Customer Status Report

This new report allows customers to view the status of all their jobs that are either in house or have shipped in the last week. In our last issue we talked about the improvements we have made to security with our FTP site. We created unique login IDs and passwords for each customer. Well, these are now also used to get at the Customer Status Report. So, if you have your login and password, you’re ready to go. If you don’t, contact a member of your customer care team and they’ll provide you with the information. 

The “Customer Status Report” is currently accessible by going to the “What’s New” section on our home page. From there is a link that will take you to the secure customer login prompt. In the future, there will be a direct way to the customer login as we are working on updating the entire website . . . but that’s for a future issue of Printer’s Ink. Once logged in, you will see a page describing the various options you have. If you select Customer Status, a report appears on the screen that details all of your jobs currently in house. It will list scheduled proof, press, and ship dates along with actual dates for each. Also listed are any “transactions” for the job such as proofs going out, proofs returned, and items to come for the job. The report is real time, so it will have the most accurate information. 

While you’re in the customer login area you have additional options available to you. You can create a new estimate using the RFQ mentioned previously. The benefit of processing your RFQ through this secure customer area is twofold. First, each one is saved for review at a later date. Secondly, after you have entered the contact information for the quote, you can select “save customer data to database.” After doing this, when you return to request a quote through your customer login, you will not have to enter this information again. 

We hope these new features will be valuable tools in communicating with us. As mentioned above, we will be updating the entire website to provide easier navigation, and more accurate and timely information. In the meantime, please let us know of any ideas for providing better service through our site. 

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Materially Speaking

For several years we’ve offered a Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) sheet called Turin Book which was manufactured by the Lyons Falls Pulp and Paper Company. Unfortunately, Lyons Falls went out of business due to increasing costs for energy and pulp. We have replaced our most popular Turin Book item with a new sheet from Sweden called New Age TCF. New Age is a natural book paper. For now, we stock it in 50# sheets for 6 x 9 trim size at a ppi of 440. We just received our first shipment in early April. We’re hopeful this paper will run really well on press and demand from our customers will be high enough to enable us to also offer it in 60# sheet for 6x9 trim. I’ll let you know how it’s going in the next issue. For now, New Age is a midpriced sheet: it is priced between our Writers Offset and Glatfelter Offset. 

For folks interested in recycled papers, we stock a number of items that perform well and contain post consumer waste. In white, uncoated, book paper we offer Glatfelter Thor White Offset which contains 85% total recovered fiber, 30% post consumer. For a recycled sheet Thor has very good brightness and is very clean. On the natural side we offer Glatfelter Supple Opaque which is 60% total recovered fiber, 25% post consumer. If you need a matte-coated sheet we offer Consolidated Fortune Matte that is 10% total, 10% post consumer. Fortune performs excellently on press with very good halftone quality. I’m in the early stages of exploring recycled C1S cover stock options with two paper mills. One of them produces a sheet we’ve tested in the past but found its performance lacking. That mill has expressed a desire to see if they can improve the sheet to our satisfaction. It has 15% post consumer content, and I’m hopeful that the mill will succeed in delivering the kind of quality we need for our customers. Meanwhile our current C1S supplier is exploring recycled content options as well.

ICG Holliston has begun the process of merging Arrestox and Roxite into a single cloth line that they will call “Arrestox/Roxite B.” A Grade is being eliminated and C grade will be available in Roxite only. As I write this they are finishing up a new swatch card that cross references Roxite to Arrestox for what they consider to be commercial matches to substitute. We learned about this a few weeks back when the mill told us that some of the Roxite items we had just ordered were no longer available and they would ship us the Arrestox equivalent instead. For all of the Roxite items we have traditionally stocked we immediately began to stock the Arrestox replacements on our floor. 

A word about using ‘stock’ materials. We are able to offer you the best prices and best schedules possible when you specify materials that we stock on our floor. The variety we offer now is greater than any other time in our history. This is especially true for text paper and book cloth. When stock materials are used we have greater control over book production from when we schedule a job until we ship it. If you would like more specific information about the materials we stock or would like to see samples, please contact one of your Customer Care Team members. 

-Bill Thomas, Purchasing 

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We often run into situations where someone is surprised that we offer a certain service. For example, we still find people who are unaware that we do casebinding in-house even though we have been doing it for over ten years. What we would like to communicate to you is that we would like to have the opportunity to quote on any book project you have. Examples of projects that you might not have thought of T-S for in the past would include 4-color text, runs of 50, runs of 50,000, or quick turnaround jobs. In order to offer a broader range of capabilities, we have partnered with a few other service providers. We do not take lightly the relationships we build with these other organizations; after all, our reputation is on the line. So, by going through T-S, you know that we will stand behind the final product as we provide you with both the service and quality that are synonymous with Thomson-Shore. 

* * * * * * * * 

Elsewhere in this issue Terri Kesling, our Scheduling Manager, touched on how things have changed in her position over the years . . . most notably in the last year. One of the issues she touched on was the issue of requesting information and or items from you (a.k.a. “bugging you”). With our finite schedule it is very important for work to continue to flow through here. We have spent the last year getting rid of many of our internal practices and policies that caused work to stop. What remains are the stops that customers often cause such as proofs coming back late, furnished items coming in late, delayed approvals on printed pieces, shipping instructions coming in at the very end, etc. We now need to work on improving how this information flows to help the overall flow. I guess the purpose of my mention of this is to explain why we’re bugging you and to let you know that we’re not singling you out. What we are doing is attempting to allow work to flow through the plant more predictably and smoothly which will in the end help all of our customers. If you have any questions or concerns about this new TOC stuff, please feel free to contact one of your customer care team members. We may not know everything about it, but we know a lot more about it than we did a year ago . . . including where to find the answers. 

* * * * * * * *

In April we had another successful PDF seminar here at T-S. This group was a little smaller than previous seminars, which made the whole event much more personal. One change we made to the structure of the program was to allow each person to customize the seminar to their needs. There were a few general sessions like our basic PDF information and our tours, but a good portion of the two days was set aside to allow each person to go where they wanted within the plant to get a better understanding of some aspect of book manufacturing. We haven’t set a date yet for the next seminar, but it will be either this fall or next spring. That decision will mainly be determined by your demand. So, if you would be interested in learning more about the seminar or just want to express your interest, please let Matt Wenzel (mattw@tshore.com) know. And, as always, if you are interested in a tour or some one-on-one time with someone here at T-S, please give one of your customer care team members a call. We love to entertain and show off! 

* * * * * * * *

A quick look at sports shows that Michigan State made it to the Final Four in both basketball (3 years in a row) and hockey, while the University of Michigan got there in hockey. None of the three teams were able to come away with the championship this year, but making it that far is quite an accomplishment. Having these good teams makes for some fun times around T-S as our loyalties are divided. Although there are fewer of us diehard Spartan fans, the last few years have helped make up for some really lousy ones in the past. Now, if we can just get our football program to where that maize and blue one seems to be every year . . . but, more on that in the fall. 

* * * * * * * *

We have been doing some research in our cover & jacket area regarding corrections at proof return stage. We have discovered that nearly 70% of all corrections through that area are due to spelling errors. A lot of time and money is spent remaking film and proofs due to typing glitches. You would be amazed how many times this is the author or the publisher’s name, typically on the spine copy. Maybe it’s harder to catch there since it is sideways. Save yourself some time and money, by double checking the spelling, especially those words you don’t dare let go! 

* * * * * * * *

If you are doing journal work or other titles that have advertisement pages, we would like to offer the following suggestion . . . have these ads provided in an electronic format. Often we receive camera copy with screens and halftones for these ads. Due to these having a screen in them, we get a morié pattern when we output. If you request PDF or EPS files for your ad pages, you can get first generation output, without this offensive pattern.

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Ned’s News 

It isn’t really appropriate or realistic for me to write much about my recent experiences at T-S since I’ve been retired for four years now, so at the suggestion of some longtime Printer’s Ink readers, I’ll write about retirement.

Harry Shore and I along with our wives spend half the year . . . the cold half . . . in Scottsdale, Arizona. The warm half in Ann Arbor.

Harry took to retirement more quickly and successfully than I, but I have long since decided that it really does beat working. Back in my retirement’s first year, I had a problem thinking that I should really be doing something constructive that at least contributed to the overall good of the universe. That led me to briefly consider starting an animal health clinic and then a health food store and after some investigation, I decided I probably didn’t have enough energy to start a new business with the time demands I knew would be necessary. And since working for someone else didn’t have much appeal, I figured the most logical move for me was to learn to enjoy all the spare time I had on my hands. Harry had arrived at that point about 30 minutes after he walked out of Thomson-Shore. I got there about a year later.

My summer activities in Michigan now include building furniture, playing tennis and golf, participating in step aerobics classes, and general stuff around the house and yard. In Arizona, I compact that to tennis (usually eight or more hours a week), aerobics, bike riding, and hiking. If nothing else, that schedule keeps me in pretty good physical condition, but in the past year it has also helped me develop planar faciaitus in my foot and that put me on crutches and off the tennis court for 12 weeks. Then I got a problem with a rotator cuff that was left over from a broken shoulder I got over 50 years ago playing football. And, currently I have either developed tendinitis in my wrist or else carpal tunnel syndrome from playing tennis . . . and now I can’t even write this article without taking Advil an hour ahead of time.

As you get older, I guess you have to pay attention to the body’s warning signs more closely than you do when you’re younger. Though, at the moment, I’m not ready to give in. I’m going to Aerobics class in an hour . . . where the average age, excluding me, is probably around 35. The Advil I took so I could write this should still be working then.

This weekend it will probably be golf and tennis both and then next week starts the process all over again.

At first I believe I was physically ready to accept retirement but mentally I wasn’t there yet. When I finally got myself mentally ready, the body started objecting. There’s probably a lesson here but at the moment I’ve got too many parts and pieces that hurt to be able to concentrate enough to find it. If you have any suggestions, leave me a voice mail message at T-S or send an email to NedandMaryJane@aol.com

-Ned Thomson, Cofounder

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