Implementing lean manufacturing into newspaper production operations

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Title: Implementing lean manufacturing into newspaper production operations
Author: Engum, Marianne
Abstract: The evolution of technology and new media has, over a long period of time, had an influence on the newspaper industry. This development has particularly affected the printed newspaper with a decline in circulation; forcing newspaper printers to be more efficient and to look for methods of increasing profit and reducing costs. Lean Manufacturing strategy, which includes waste elimination, can help the newspaper printers to achieve these goals. Lean Manufacturing has gotten an increased focus in the printing industry. However, the number of newspapers implementing Lean is still minimal. This research has sought to determine the level of knowledge of Lean Manufacturing within the newspaper printing industry, as well as to identify its benefits. In this research, it was found that many newspaper printers are somewhat familiar with the Lean Manufacturing concepts, but there seems to be a lack of knowledge of how these concepts can be beneficial for this industry. There also appears to be a lack of knowledge of areas with opportunities for improvements in process performances. Though there is a fairly high level of knowledge, only 17% of the participants have implemented some degree of Lean Manufacturing in their operations. Managers from Lean organizations believe that the industry in general is focused on managing cost, but often do not know how to handle efficiency and the measurement of performance; they also believe that the newspaper production is practiced highly inefficiently. Newspaper printers applying Lean philosophy consider reduction in waste to be a major benefit. The most significant areas for a potential waste reduction are rework, paper waste, changeover times, wasted labor resources, and downtime. The best approach for implementing Lean Manufacturing in newspaper production operations varies from company to company, depending on the amount of resources available within the company, and the management's ability to implement changes. Regardless of the path of implementation, if tools are implemented without corresponding changes in management style, the benefits gained will not be continuous. The management needs to spend as much time in enforcing cultural changes as on implementing the actual tools. Even in the current economic situation, some Lean newspapers have been able to maintain acceptable profit levels, and an improved cost control enables them to stay well positioned.
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Date: 2009-05

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