World Association of News Publishers

Lean manufacturing at Newsprinters in the UK

Lean manufacturing at Newsprinters in the UK

Article ID:


Newsprinters in the UK, printers of News International titles, makes no bones about its company’s No. 1 objective: To be the very best newspaper manufacturer in the world.

George Donaldson, Group Continuous Improvement Manager for Newsprinters, U.K.

George Donaldson, Group Continuous Improvement Manager for Newsprinters, shares how this huge printing company goes about achieving true “Lean Manufacturing” at its three printing sites in the UK.

The company has three major ISO certifications: 9001 (quality), 14001 (environmental), and 18001 (health and safety). The three sites comprise 19 presses from manroland and other equipment, totalling about a billion-euro investment.

Donaldson says the company leans heavily on the many tried and tested methods and processes for continuous improvement, such as 5S, KANBAN, 7 wastes and hidden factory, SMED, visual controls and visual factory.

“All of these methods have been around for a long time, but we try to live by ‘making common sense common practice.’ And true Lean Manufacturing starts with removing all non-value added processes and activities.”

When the company made the huge investment, they systematically rolled out these principles, but the key, he says, is to engage your teams. “Our three pillars are organisation, standardisation, and engagement, but the foundation lies in integrated teamwork.”

For Mr. Donaldson, any newspaper printer starting out in this direction should definitely start with the 5S principles (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain), “the most fundamental improvement process there is,” he says.

But with all of those principles, he warns of a nasty failure rate: “50 percent of these fail and usually because of managers. It might be easy to do some parts, but to sustain and maintain is where it gets very difficult.”

His advice is to start small, choose a pilot project for a 5S exercise, and show your team the large impact an exercise like this can have – they will get it.

Two examples he cited included one of the company’s ink rooms, which was incredibly unorganised. In two weeks, the team cleaned and organised the room and they then held nine workshops, with 10 departments, 785 attendees, over 35 days, but just one team. He showed a before-and-after slide that clearly indicated how the processes, consumables and more were in line, and how the process reduced waste and extra consumables dramatically.

With SMED (observe and record, separate internal and external activities, convert internal and extern activities, streamline all activities, and document everything), they got the engineering department to use this method with make-ready, because, he says, “Everybody knows where the breakdowns take place, so look at those so you will be prepared the next time.”

The result: they saved 40 minutes in production.


Dean Roper's picture

Dean Roper


2011-04-07 17:29

Author information

WAN-IFRA provided summaries of all presentations during the Printing Summit 2011 Conference in Mainz, Germany, held on 6 and 7 April. Read more ...