Colorman Ireland

Case Study 1 – Under/Over Production

Key Challenges

One of the key challenges identified by their team member was over-production.  Over-production increases the amount of raw materials (inks, varnish, board) used.  In addition, it increases time spent on various machinery used in the process and can lead to excessive scrappage at the end of the line.  In contrast, under-production triggers a reprint which involves a complete production run for the deficit in question. Finally, a short delivery can also impact on their Customer KPI reporting tool.

Based on data received from end line processes, the company calculated the percentage of waste levels in terms of units and sheets used.  The lower the volume the higher the waste because each sheet wasted on the process equates to 25 finished units.  Most importantly, the target was to reduce the company’s raw material annual cost from 60% to 12.5%.

We are a big company with personal values.  Attention to detail, stringent brand control, on-time delivery and reliability are cornerstones of our service levels.

8-Step Problem-Solving Process

In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:

  1. Problem
  2. Current State
  3. Target
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Select Countermeasures
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluation
  8. Standardisation & Learnings
Colorman print machine
Colorman Kaizen

Root Cause Analysis

First of all, the root cause of this issue was a lack of data collection and analysis from all areas of the production process.  In reality, average waste figures were best “guesstimates” which in turn badly affected end of line quantities.  So, small volumes were massively overproduced and large volumes had a tendency to be short.  Similarly, there was a lack of understanding between the various departments in terms of what happened the product at each stage on the way to completion. This became evident at a Kaizen event.

Kaizen event is a team brainstorming workshop.  It has a specific goal for improving a business process and minimising waste within a department or company.  Through “silent sharing”, we encourage all participants to think, reflect and share their ideas. 

Then, we put all these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart to assess the potential impact or benefits they will have on the company.  Therefore, the result is a visual representation of where best to assign time and resources.  We don’t discard any issues as their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved.  Therefore, we can summarise these four activities as follows:

  1. Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
  2. Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
  3. Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
  4. Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.

The first issue was that each Department works independently of each other.  They are, on the whole, lacking in knowledge of the various processes and procedures pertinent to the different Departments.  Finally, there was a concern over the way they stored the raw material for this product.  To clarify, it depended on the temperature which can cause problems in every production area.

Key Actions

  • Print Excess – 70% of jobs to run within an excess target of 0 to 100 sheets.
  • Labour Recovery – Colorman established a baseline initially for Litho, Bindery, Cartons & SPV.
  • One system – Quote to delivery.
  • One system (Tharsten Pro) for calendar year 2019.
  • Quality – Complaints & reprints
  • They established a structured corrective action approach for reprints and complaints with improved standardised procedures.
  • Finally, the business committed to holding quarterly management meetings to address KPIs, project progress, bottlenecks, changes.

Key Outcomes

As a result of completing this course, Colorman reported a number of results.  They have reduced the excess print.  The labour recovery is now measured and presents a huge opportunity for the business. 


  1. We stepped back and looked properly at the root cause of the issue.
  2. We had to try things more than once.
  3. Team involvement was beneficial.
  4. Lack of communication can have a serious negative impact.
  5. All it took for was someone to take responsibility for the area.
  6. Sometimes we received help from people we least expected to help us.
  7. This is the start of many projects.

We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation.  This has clearly been the case in Colorman Ireland.  Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.

ETAC has worked with Colorman Ireland to streamline their business and improve their processes.  We hope you enjoyed reading about this case study on Under Over Production.  You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here: Case Study 2 – Lean Time Management and Case Study 3 – Process Improvement.  All our case studies are available here.