Print productivity: a system dynamics approach

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Title: Print productivity: a system dynamics approach
Author: Uribe, Jorge
Abstract: The productivity of the printing industry in terms of real sales per employee has been growing at an annualized rate of 1.9% for more than a decade. The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) reports that the industry is lagging, when compared to the average productivity growth of 4% from the non-durable manufacturing industries (2004). Many possible causes and reasons for the slow improvement are presented, but the final focus is on the inefficiencies of the print production system when analyzed as a whole. The technology within the printing industry has improved dramatically; however, its implementation usually delivers localized improvements with marginal effects on the whole system. Printers are focused too much on the productivity of specific equipment and not enough on the overall throughput of the system. A computer simulation model of a generic print production workflow using system dynamics was developed to address this issue. The use of simple tools known as stocks and flows, in conjunction with information feedbacks, resulted in a complete representation of the complexity of the system. Through multiple iterations and interaction with the model, opportunities for productivity improvement of individual print companies can be identified. Additionally, the model acts as a learning tool for testing mental models and for improving the understanding of the print production system. The model was used to simulate five scenarios: status quo, aggressive sales, press productivity improvement, shrinking order size, and synergy. The synergy scenario achieved the best overall results xii when compared to the status quo scenario. Under this scenario, the throughput of the whole system increased by 47% during the simulation, considering fixed capital and labor resources. Therefore, through correct policy design and implementation, real productivity gains of the whole system can be achieved.
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Date: 2007-04

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