Go From Chaos to Clarity

Go From Chaos to Clarity

We will dig deep into moving from chaos to clarity for today’s article. Chaos is when something is NOT working the way it should. Clarity is just the opposite. It’s not only working, but it is specifically working with precision.

Chaos could be the entirety of your business. Everything is a gigantic, unorganized mess. Or, it is only with one small facet.

The goal is to focus on the end result. What should the results look like? Are there expectations of success that you need to hit?

We’ll talk about that. And more.

Let’s Start With The Chaos

First, let’s start where you are currently. Maybe you’ve only been in business for about a month. Or, you are over ten years in the business, and still grinding away.

Either way, the beginning starts with the same exercise. You need to document your present state. And by document, I mean you need to know your numbers. For some of you, this will be like falling off a log. You have systems or software in place and can pull a report.

But there are some folks reading this that don’t have a way to pull a report. Because nobody has any records of anything. If that’s you, stop what you are doing. Hit the brakes. Pull over now. You need to start recording data now by looking into a program (or at least a spreadsheet) where the data can be entered and retrieved.

Use a checklist of KPIs you should be measuring

You have your checklist, don’t you? That’s ok if you don’t. Use this one. It has about 60+ ideas of things that you can start measuring.

The important thing is that you start measuring. You want to build out a baseline of data. This way, when you start changing and improving things you can tell when the needle moves.

Clarity Can Be About Anything

It is important to remember that it is ok if you don’t know something. Every one is on a different journey. As my friend Greg Kitson says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

There is always a better way to do something. That’s why we want to work on moving from chaos to clarity. What are the results that you want?

For example, let’s say that you are having trouble adhering to a production schedule. Jobs are being sold, but it is difficult to predict when something will be produced and shipped to the customer. Where do you start?

Let’s Take A Look

For starters, you already have part of the equation as you know the job parameters. As an example, let’s say that the order is a two-color left chest and a three-color back that is going on 144 shirts.

For production scheduling you need to know two things:

Capacity – which is “how many” can we do?

Velocity – which is “how fast” can we work?

This is where measuring things in your shop comes into play. A production log has tremendous value because it can give you the data you need with averages to make some scheduling assumptions. For the sake of argument, let’s say you actually have this data and know that your shop averages a set up time of 6.53 minutes per screen on set up. For print speed, the shop runs at an average of 410 impressions per hour on an automatic press.

Using that data

Two-color Left Chest

2 x 6.53 minutes set up = 13.06 minutes total

410 impressions per hour / 60 = 6.83 impressions per minute

144 impressions for the left chest / 6.63 per minute = 21.08 minutes print time

13.06 set up + 21.08 print time = 34.14 minutes total

Three-color Back

3 x 6.53 minutes set up = 19.59 minutes total

144 impressions for the back / 6.83 = 21.08 minutes print time

19.59 set up + 21.08 print time = 40.67 minutes total

Total Job Print Time

34.14 + 40.67 = 74.81 minutes total or 1.24 hours.

Production Schedule Clarity

Are you working through the chaos toward clarity by using real number and real data to make decisions? For a lot of shops, the production schedule is simply a wish list. It is a pile of jobs on a piece of paper, but what is achievable for the day is unknown because there isn’t any planning or science behind it.

As you can easily see with using just two points of data, set up time and average print speed, we could understand how long every booked job will take to produce. Just this one fact can help you prioritize your workload and bring it from chaos to clarity.

Should You Schedule Every Minute?

As they say on tv, “But wait, there’s more!”

The problem of course, is that nobody is printing every single minute of the day. You have to transition from one job to another. There are employee breaks and lunch that are needed. Plus there is some inefficiency in there too.

All of that is called Downtime.

Downtime is the cancer of your shop. Let’s say that you run an eight hour shift. Eight hours is 480 minutes. Let’s subract a thirty-minute lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks in there. That leaves 420 minutes of available production time.

Unless you are running some huge jobs that run all day, you are probably only printing about 50% of the day. The rest of the time is spent doing other things. How much time? You won’t know unless you measure.

Again, to come out of chaos and into clarity you need the data.


Imagine how much better your production schedule could be from an accuracy standpoint if you knew that third component. Downtime %.

This is solvable. Just start measuring it.

If you want a way to get your data easily click here. This will take you to the Production Tracker app that allows you to gather this type of data and more on any phone or tablet.

You can also manually obtain this just by using a written production log and a spreadsheet.

The power to go from chaos to clarity is within your grasp. You just have to decide if you are ready to make enough changes to make it happen.

Up to you.

“Chaos is the law of nature. Order is the dream of man.” – Henry Adams

“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” – Henry Miller

“There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.” – Phil Knight

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Marshall Atkinson also shares exclusive blog content at Supacolor.com. Supacolor makes The World’s Best Heat Transfer and provides tips, inspiration, and other resources designed to empower professional garment printers.

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