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Why your label business profits may be ‘wasting’ away

By Rock LaManna | April 16, 2013

A focus on waste is one of the key principles in running a healthy label business.

Does one word jump out at you in that headline?  I’m sure you noticed “profits” and “label business.” But what about “wasting?” I’d recommend you focus quite heavily on “waste,” as it is one of the key principles in running a healthy label business.

In your continuous quest to grow your business, it’s easy to overlook the lean operating principles that drive more profits. By improving internal processes, you can achieve steady, sometimes spectacular bottom-line results.

One lean operating principle that’s often overlooked is “eliminating waste.” Here are a few examples of how you can eliminate waste in your label operations.

Stop over-producing. When your production line stops, your profits stop too, right? Not always. It’s a difficult balancing act, but you need to assess when it’s okay to print ahead to avoid repeated set-up costs, and when it’s best to stop printing.

Consider the short shelf life of adhesive. It may seem like a good idea to print out a second-part of a larger order, but what if a client cancels? Or, what if the shipment is delayed and the adhesive goes bad? That’s a peril of over-producing.

Start using FIFO. Your inventory needs to be configured to follow a First In, First Out system. Once again, if you print a big order with an adhesive backing, the inventory must be aligned so that the first job in is the first one out. Otherwise, the adhesive goes bad and you lose money.

Start improving communication between procurement and your production line. One of the principles of eliminating waste is the “Waste of Waiting.” There’s nothing worse than having your production line sit idle because you’re lacking an ink or adhesive that’s needed to complete the job.

This is a systemic issue, in which your company needs to align its procurement process closely with production. Sweat the details on this, and get that process down to a science. One misfire can hold up your line in a costly way.

Stop wasting money on transportation. Take a close look at all the transportation costs, and processes, involved in your operation. For example, when your labels are printed, are they shipped to a location in a warehouse, where they await packaging? Would it make more sense to include the packaging component as part of the line operation? 

These are just a few examples of waste in a label and narrow web operation. While obvious at first glance, they’re often overlooked because companies lack a system-wide approach with “Eliminating Waste” checkpoints. 

I’d highly recommend you take a closer look at how your operation is “wasting.” Otherwise, you’re just throwing away profit. 

Here’s more information from Rock LaManna on lean operations.

Rock LaManna helps printing owners and CEOs use their company financials to prioritize and choose the proper strategic path. He is President and CEO of the LaManna Alliance, and provides guidance on how to grow a printing business, merge with a synergistic partner, make a strategic acquisition, or create a succession plan. Rock can be reached by email at
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