To maximize your quality potential you must eliminate "quality"

gordo

Well-known member
Ask a group of printers if they consider themselves "quality" printers and you'll typically get a "yes" answer. But ask them to define specifically what quality means and you'll usually get blank stares. If you can't define something as critical as "quality" in print, then how can you quantify it to be sure that you are achieving and delivering it? And importantly, how can you expect to find opportunities to improve your "quality" - opportunities that your competition may miss?

The first step to achieving quality is to eliminate "quality"

The term "quality" is so broadly and over used in the print industry that it has lost any real meaning. In order to give meaning to the term the printshop needs to rethink, and look more critically at the way it does business.
Print production is not looked at as a creative process. Instead, it is looked upon as a commodity that results from a manufacturing process. As a result, quality lies in the execution of the print manufacturing experience from initial customer contact to final presswork delivery.
Looked at from that point of view one can translate "quality" from being a fuzzy personal perception into "quality" being made up of discrete and potentially measurable components. So the first step the printer needs to do to maximize quality - is to totally eliminate the term from their vocabulary and replace it with words that have specific meanings, preferably meanings that can be quantified, specified, measured, tracked, and communicated.

Replacing "quality" to maximize the print manufacturing experience

Maximizing the print manufacturing experience means creating a process that delivers on customer expectations while also delivering on the company's need for effective and cost efficient production. Performance above project requirements are a waste of time, money and resources. Performance below requirements is unacceptable.

Since the process revolves around meeting customer expectations - it's usually best to first define what those expectations are. The next step is to turn those expectations into performance targets. Those performance targets, as well as tolerances, are embodied in words that have attributes - metrics - that can be quantified, specified, measured, and certified, and against which the company or its processes can be evaluated. This way a vague word like "quality" can be turned into clearly defined characteristics. This approach to process improvement can be applied to all facets of the printshop from initial client contact through to final delivery.

Presswork quality without "quality"

Although this rethinking of "quality" can be applied to all aspects of the printshop's activities, as an example, here's how this process might play out for just one part of the production process: "quality" in presswork.

You might look at presswork quality as having three key characteristics: consistency, fidelity, and accuracy. Those terms would then replace the word "quality" in both internal and external communications.

"Consistency" refers to the stability of the presswork within the pressrun. Consistency is a metric that can be specified, measured, and certified therefore providing numeric certification of the printer's performance. Tools that can be used to certify consistency can be as simple as documenting solid ink densities and/or grey balance at specified points during the run or be as complex as implementing consistency assurance solutions such as System Brunner Instrument Flight™. Tolerances for consistency can be agreed to between print buyer and supplier and quantified. Tolerances can be based on industry standards (e.g. "We maintain a DEab of 5 or less for all colors."), or proprietary standard (e.g. "We deliver System Brunner 4 Star presswork") or a house specific standard.

The important thing is that consistency is a metric that can be objectively quantified and documented.

"Fidelity" refers to how closely presswork reproduction represents the original art. Fidelity can be broken down into three components:
1) Resolution
2) Gamut

"Resolution" refers to the halftone screening being used. Higher frequency screening delivers finer levels of detail rendering fidelity and hence a level of detail that is closer to the original art. Resolution is a metric that can be specified, measured, and certified whether a coarse 100 lpi AM screen or an ultra-fine 10 micron FM screen. Specifying resolution targets can help determine everything from scanned image dpi, to make-ready times, to what equipment - such as plates and plate imaging, loupes, and paper - the printer will need to invest in. It is also very easy to demonstrate the different detail rendering capabilities of different halftone screens.

"Gamut" refers to the color range capability of the presswork. The greater the gamut the greater the potential for the presswork to reproduce the original art. Again, gamut is a metric that can be specified, measured, and certified. Strategies to enhance gamut might include; printing at higher than standard solid ink densities, employing extra "bump" colors/touch plates, using wide gamut inks, or using a six or seven color process.

"Accuracy" can be broken down into two components:
1) Alignment of presswork to a signed-off proof
2) Alignment of presswork to a print characteristic target (e.g. ISO 12647-2 or an in-house standard)

Alignment of presswork color to the signed off proof can be verified by using basic tools such as spectrophotometer measurements of color patches or more complex tools such as full press sheet scans. Tolerances for the accuracy of either individual colors or the sheet average can be specified using agreed to DEab values based on industry norms, individual shop capability, or customer requirements.

Finally

Even for the printer that offers only one print characteristic, by looking at customer expectations and presswork this way, each aspect of production can be described in greater detail, quantified and toleranced. Because "quality" has been replaced by measurable attributes it is now unambiguous and the criteria - whether systems, equipment, facilities, or process-related for delivering on customer expectations - can also be established. Looking at presswork quality this way also supports the notion that there is no high or low quality. Instead, presswork may simply have a different set of specific criteria for determining whether customer needs will be met or not.

So, the next time you are tempted to say: "We're a 'quality' printer" stop yourself and think about how you can best describe your performance capability without using that trite, meaningless, term.

Checking sheet.jpg
 
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keith1

Well-known member
This holds true across, well, damn near everything. In this instance, quality to you and quality to me can be interpreted vastly different. Add in several other peoples notion of what it means . . .
George Carlin ran into this with his '8 words you can't say', or whatever it was called. How does one define obscene? I don't recall all the details but it was something to the effect that one group (we know who) considered the words to be such that the world would end the second they were uttered. 2nd group didn't believe this would happen. 3rd group could have cared less.
I was fired for misconduct once. Was fired from jobs a couple other times as well for varying degrees of what employers like to call 'having a poor attitude'. What it really was, was me not following bosses orders to the letter because he was wrong (and an idiot). It's one of the reasons I wound up with my own business heh,heh.
Anyway, fired for misconduct so I was denied unemployment payments. Had to take it up a couple levels but I eventually won my case because there was no definition of misconduct on the books. My name is even in the employment standards precedents somewhere. One persons definition of misconduct is another persons standing up for themselves.
There's no end of meaningless terms & phrases in need of a challenge. Such is the English language.
 

P_Crosby

Active member
A long time ago I was honored to meet a brilliant gentleman. I don't call him brilliant just because we share the same name, spelled correctly I might add, but because his approach to quality revolutionized the manufacturing definition of quality. The following is copied from an article about his fundamentals of quality management:

This is the link from which this text is copied. I stake no claim on writing the following only believing in it whole heartedly.

Philip Crosby: The Fun Uncle of the Quality Revolution​

"Do It Right the First Time"​

Dr. Deming and Dr. Juran were the great brains of the quality revolution. Where Phil Crosby excelled was in finding a terminology for quality that mere mortals could understand. His books, "Quality Without Tears" and "Quality is Free" were easy to read, so people read them. He popularized the idea of the "cost of poor quality", that is, figuring out how much it really costs to do things badly.

Like Frederick Taylor, Philip Crosby's ideas came from his experience on an assembly line. He focused on zero defects, not unlike the focus of the modern Six Sigma Quality movement. Mr. Crosby was quick to point out, however, that zero defects is not something that originates on the assembly line. To create a manufacturing process that has zero defects management must set the tone and atmosphere for employees to follow. If management does not create a system by which zero defects are clearly the objective then employees are not to blame when things go astray and defects occur. The benefit for companies of such a system is a dramatic decrease in wasted resources and time spent producing goods that consumer's do not want.

Mr. Crosby defined quality as a conformity to certain specifications set forth by management and not some vague concept of "goodness." These specifications are not arbitrary either; they must be set according to customer needs and wants.

Four Absolutes of Quality Management
  1. Quality is defined as conformance to requirements, not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'.
  2. The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal.
  3. The performance standard must be Zero Defects, not "that's close enough".
  4. The measurement of quality is the Price of Nonconformance, not indices.
 

gordo

Well-known member
Snipped for relevance.
Mr. Crosby defined quality as a conformity to certain specifications set forth by management and not some vague concept of "goodness." These specifications are not arbitrary either; they must be set according to customer needs and wants.

Four Absolutes of Quality Management
  1. Quality is defined as conformance to requirements, not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'.
  2. The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal.
  3. The performance standard must be Zero Defects, not "that's close enough".
  4. The measurement of quality is the Price of Nonconformance, not indices.

RE: "Mr. Crosby defined quality as a conformity to certain specifications set forth by management"

> That is not IMHO "quality" (and certainly not Dr Demings). Management is not buying printing. Shoes that conform to management defined specifications are useless if they don't fit a customer's feet.

RE: "1 Quality is defined as conformance to requirements, not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'."

> I would edit it to "customer requirements"

RE: "not as 'goodness' or 'elegance'"

> Yes, that is what the thrust of my article. Replace the term "quality" with definable objective specifications.

RE: "The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal."

> Appraisal is used to determine adherence to specifications. Prevention is a function of process control. Neither cause quality.

RE: "The performance standard must be Zero Defects, not "that's close enough"."

> Zero defects may be a goal but it cannot be a standard in printing. The standard should be an objective, specified tolerance for deviation.
RE: "not "that's close enough"." If you're within tolerance you are by definition close enough.

RE: "The measurement of quality is the Price of Nonconformance, not indices."

> The measurement of quality IMHO is happy bill paying repeat customers.
 

turbotom1052

Well-known member
In app 35 years of running sheetfed presses, and managing sheetfed pressrooms, Ive NEVER been on a job interview where the person interviewing me failed to mention how they were a "quality" printing company. It would appear that all printers THINK they are running a quality operation, but yet Ive seen some real shitty printing delivered to customers. How could this be???
Well Ive got a few thoughts on that.... First and most importantly I believe that it's the printing company that needs to set the standards, and NOT the customers. Once the company decides how they want to be perceived in their chosen market then its on them to decide their quality standards and be consistent, and hopefully with competitive pricing, reliability when meeting deadlines, and an active sales force they will like water, find their level.
All too often Ive seen jobs rushed through a pressroom, printed on the crappiest job lot paper, with less than competent press crews. If a company continues to roll these dice eventually they will crap out!!! It's usually then that a customer complains about a job and insists on either a reprint, or a discount. When this happens, it often falls onto the shoulders of either a front line manager, or the press crew for delivering a defective product. Nowhere in the equation is it considered that the "fish may actually stink from the head" In my experience its NEVER the choice of the pressroom manager, or press crew to buy that hard to resist job lot paper, or to try and rush the schedule and print more jobs than can reasonably be expected without working overtime. Suspensions, warning letters, and other disciplinary actions, only serve to weaken morale and reinforce a "cover my ass" attitude.
There is no substitute for experience!!! I do realize that there is often a shortage of fully qualified people to staff a company, but there's also a desire on the part of many company principals to either promote off the broom, or to try and avoid paying a wage commensurate with experience. Ive seen many company owners that feel that they can swap out the latest technology, for fully experienced staffing, with the thinking that the technology will carry the product. I do agree that to some extent technology has made the process more of a science than a craft but imagine the possibilities if your multi million dollar press purchase could be manned by a seasoned crew that actually knew how to print instead of how to just operate the software.
Then there is another disturbing trend that ive noticed. Its often the case that a company when staffing their pre press department would not for a second think of not hiring the very best pre press manager, but when it comes to the pressroom the chosen pressroom manager (if there even is one) is decided more on their abilities to crack a whip, or to enforce company policies as opposed to their technical knowledge. Too often the pressroom manager is either the owners son in law or drinking buddy, that has never seen ink under their fingernails. When you consider that the pressroom is usually the highest cost center of the company these policies seem insane!!! If you're a company owner and read this post you must ask yourself "is turbotom describing me"???
 

gordo

Well-known member
First and most importantly I believe that it's the printing company that needs to set the standards, and NOT the customers.

I think that the print standard(s) targeted by the print shop are usually set by the printer shop. I don't think that the editorial stated otherwise.
That being said, there are some print customers that set the print standard they require if you are to do business with them. E.g. Coca-cola, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Hallmark etc.
 
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MudInYourEye

Active member
A quick google search brings up this:

What is the modern definition of quality?

”A modern definition of quality derives from Juran's "fitness for intended use." This definition basically says that quality is "meeting or exceeding customer expectations." Deming states that the customer's definition of quality is the only one that matters.”

I would expect that’s true in most things that are made and sold but in printing I think quality tends to be correlated with difficulty, and/or finished appearance... The 1-color black business card versus the 4-color business card that’s printed CMYK over a cold foil, with a strike-thru knocked out UV coating on top. Both are printed in one easy pass on an offset press, on the same sheet at the same time, and maybe even right next to each other. They’re literally identical in production quality. But when they’re both cut out and later compared side-by-side, which one do you think will be judged as being of the highest quality? It’s very predictable, and basically a no-brainer.

I like to think of printing quality in much simpler terms - it’s either right, or it isn’t.
 

gordo

Well-known member
A quick google search brings up this:

What is the modern definition of quality?

”A modern definition of quality derives from Juran's "fitness for intended use." This definition basically says that quality is "meeting or exceeding customer expectations." Deming states that the customer's definition of quality is the only one that matters.”

I would expect that’s true in most things that are made and sold but in printing I think quality tends to be correlated with difficulty, and/or finished appearance... The 1-color black business card versus the 4-color business card that’s printed CMYK over a cold foil, with a strike-thru knocked out UV coating on top. Both are printed in one easy pass on an offset press, on the same sheet at the same time, and maybe even right next to each other. They’re literally identical in production quality. But when they’re both cut out and later compared side-by-side, which one do you think will be judged as being of the highest quality? It’s very predictable, and basically a no-brainer.

I like to think of printing quality in much simpler terms - it’s either right, or it isn’t.

Although it might sound nice - defining "quality" as perhaps including "exceeding customer expectations" is very problematic.

"Deming states that the customer's definition of quality is the only one that matters.” That's correct.

As for the rest, you seem to have missed the point of the editorial. And replacing "quality" with "right" is just replacing one meaningless word with another.
 

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