The lean method in Flexofem
The goal of every entrepreneur is to obtain the desired result in the most efficient way possible. In other words, it means making the customer satisfied with the service offered by minimizing the activities that have no value for them. At Flexofem we believe that the right way to organize a company is the lean methodology.
We believe in the lean approach because it not only allows us to eliminate waste and reduce management costs, making us more competitive in the market, but because it offers a great focus on the human component of the business: on both the customer and the employee side.
But let us take a step back.
What is the lean method and where does it come from
The lean methodology is a strategy that characterized the Toyota production system, the famous TPS and yes, it was born in the automotive sector in the period immediately following the Second World War.
The Japanese engineers understood that in order to grow their newly established company and lead it to compete with the giants of the automotive industry – a goal achieved in 30 years – they would have to create a lean production system that minimized waste.
Hence the awareness that a process can be completed in a great variety of ways, but only a few allow to achieve the result in a short time and without unnecessary waste.
However, it is not just a matter of mere trials. The lean methodology focuses on the person behind those processes.
It means that the people who work are not just machines that get the job done. They are human beings with a thinking mind, and that mind is good to operate in the service of a greater process.
The concept of kaizen indicates just that. It requires a positive change in the approach to work.
In the lean methodology, each resource is indeed responsible both for completing the work and for analyzing it to understand which activity has no value.
This is therefore a real revolution in the way a company is managed and at Flexofem we fully embrace this philosophy. Each resource must be responsible for improving their own process.
How to apply the lean method in a company
One of the basic principles of the lean method is fail fast, learn faster. In fact, learning derives from failure, and failure without learning is a double failure.
The search for perfection of the single process, which involves the entire company staff, also involves the possibility of making mistakes and consequently of learning.
In this way, all the resources are called to actively get involved and grow the company.
Each activity must therefore be carefully analyzed by the managers to understand if it led to the desired results or if it turned out to be just a waste of time and resources.
What are effects on the production
The decrease in waste leads to enormous savings on the total cost of the process but above all, as we like to focus on, it values the same employee who, feeling more responsible for his process, will be led to give his best, therefore obtaining improvements even on the production.
One of the principles of the lean method is also that demand must drive production. In this way, no waste is created – i.e. activities with no value for the end customer – avoiding the production and storage of products waiting for a demand.
Dealing with flexographic printing machinery, this principle is highly suitable for our case.
What the lean method means to us
At Flexofem we have adopted the lean method not only for a demand-driven production, but also in the field of human resources, in which each employee is responsible for their process and seeks continuous improvement.
Not only that. We wanted to follow the lean method also in Flexofem production logistics.
This lean structure allows us to reduce costs, not even remotely affecting the quality of the product offered on the market.
An innovative business organization like this (link art. Flexofem business organization) allows us to intensively manage a component that we believe makes the difference in the business: the customer service. In fact, our customer service follows the customer in the assistance phase (link art. Manage assistance: platform) for the entire duration of the customer journey.
We are therefore able to be competitive in the market and offer very attractive prices.
Lean production in Flexofem
Flexofem production also follows lean logics.
We make sure that we always have a constant and profitable dialogue with the workforce to understand every day which activities have value and which do not, and what therefore can be improved.
An attitude of this type is even more important if we consider that the products we offer to customers are extremely complex machines that are highly customized to everyone’s needs.
Finally, the lean approach that we have in Flexofem also allows us to be flexible when there is a change in the order or in the market because we are very quick to acknowledge the changes and transmit them to the entire company staff.
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Flexofem’s corporate organization
When we decided to get involved and embrace an innovation process that could lead us to grow in the flexographic printing market, we also faced the need to rethink Flexofem’s business organization.
Business as it is today has never been so exciting. There have never been so many opportunities to manage a company respecting the values from which the first business idea was generated and there have never been so many opportunities to grow. Today’s market offers a lot, but at the same time it requires a lot more effort, which often requires deeper data analysis and more focus on customers.
Take action on the company organization means to act on the human component of the business.
Each strategy implemented by a company must in fact compare the possibilities of growth with the potential risks, the efficiency compared to the needs of the people who work for that project.
Flexofem has always believed that the value of every single person goes beyond the actual technical expertise that this can bring to the company every day. Actually, taking care of the human component is essential to allow the players to express the best of themselves while carrying out their work.
For this reason, when we re-designed the company organization, our firm point was to focus on the open innovation system.
Open innovation is the heart of the company organization
Today we consider to not be a suitable choice for Flexofem’s needs to rely only on its technologies, on its know-how. We cannot and we do not want to invest exclusively in our internal resources.
It is true, in certain sectors know-how is an art that is handed down and that characterizes the work of the company as a whole, but we believe that using ideas and knowledge that already exist outside our organization is a better strategic choice, in the perspective of growing in the market.
Relying on open innovation does not mean that we are not masters of a certain know-how, but simply that we generate more value from sharing and comparing with external elements than what we could obtain by holding everything in the company, without sharing anything.
Therefore, not only we operate in a leaner organization but we also have the possibility to assimilate the know-how of external resources that come from different backgrounds, minimizing the risk of going down the wrong paths and that seem reasonable to us only because we have been using them for years.
In fact, we do not want to run the risk of going down a path simply because « it has always been done this way ». This is an extremely risky approach for the entire company organization and for the professionals who work there because it excludes any type of growth and if there is an error in the processes, this may be carried around indefinitely.
By seeking a mechanism of shared information, on the other hand, we always test ourselves and there is no guarantee that we should not review some methodologies that previously seemed correct to us, unless it is a universally validated process.
The importance of processes in the business organization
The drafting of clear and defined processes is an activity that is often trivialized in many situations, but how important it is for the proper functioning of all the gears of the company is underestimated.
It is fundamental to have defined and certified procedures, that are updated from time to time, in order to explain in a clear and simple way everything that needs to be done to complete a certain task.
In this way we avoid misunderstandings and bottlenecks in the performance of the workflow, sometimes due to external factors, some other times due to lack of clarity in roles.
At Flexofem, on the other hand, we want to make each resource responsible for its production process, capable of managing the situation and for its part becoming a consultant for that certain area.
Consulting as part of the business organization
At Flexofem, we do not want to merely build a first-class flexographic printing machine for a customer and just deliver it.
We also want to be his consultants and that is why we have done a profound job of organizing the internal and external resources of our company.
Each of these becomes a consultant for a counterparty.
If the customer needs assistance, he can speak directly with the supervisor of the production cycle to discuss how to make the machinery perform optimally.
We have thus created an extensive and flexible structure that can respond to the needs of each client in a completely personalized way and manage the project from start to finish.
Dong Hang’s role in the organization
If we talk about open innovation as the heart of Flexofem’s corporate organization, it is necessary to mention the Dong Hang company, our partner in China responsible for the construction of some machinery that we have in our catalogue.
In Italy we directly produce most of the Equipment, and some other special machineries, while the gearless machineries are produced by our partner in China, assembling components that are designed and made in Italy and in Europe.
During the production process we share with the Chinese engineers the drawings, the design and all our know-how necessary to complete that specific customized project for the customer.
We decided to rely on Dong Hang since they have been known in the flexographic printing machinery sector since 1996 as one of the top 5 manufacturing companies in China.
In this way we have the possibility not only to offer the customer the best machinery from a technical point of view but also we have the opportunity to confront ourselves and grow together with an excellence in the flexographic printing sector.
What we think of the company organization
At Flexofem we constantly use internal and external resources to bring the greatest possible value to the company, to the employees and to the management as well.
We really believe that the cross-over of different know-hows is a fundamental element to face problems with different approaches, appropriate according to the specific situation we are facing.
Only in this way we can offer our customer an excellent product from every point of view: from the technical one, to the customer care experience, before and after sales.
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Flexofem: flexographic printing machines
At Flexofem we deal with flexographic printing machinery and from the first day we wanted to use an innovative approach.
That decision was fundamental because, from then on, our efforts focused on giving the customer the best possible purchase experience despite the fact that we are talking about a complex sector such as the production of flexographic printing machines.
Being a manufacturer of flexographic printing machines: what it means for us
It is said that every company must have a clear understanding of three things before moving on the market and starting a growth path.
And here in this article we will tell you what it means for us to be a manufacturer of flexographic printing machinery. We want to talk about us and what drives us to do our best every day.
We want to bring innovation to the flexographic printing sector
The reason why we started on this path, namely our mission, leads us to go beyond the technical aspect, which must necessarily be essential, using an innovative approach in customer management.
Our experience in the sector drives us to follow the customer not only in the sale, but especially in the phases before and after the purchase. First in the collection of information, the phase that sees many questions and thoughts appear, then as well in after-sales, or the moment in which the machine must be made to work at its best.
All this is possible for us because we apply modern methodologies that make great use of the digital means that we have available and a new company organization that is based on the concept of open innovation.
In this way we know we can give to our customer a personalized service that makes him satisfied over time, even when his priorities change.
Give reliability to the customer
Pursuing this goal, we want our customers to see us as a reliable company, not only from the point of view of the technician, of the machine, but also from a collaborative point of view in the long term. In our vision, we want to be a company that takes care of them and always places them at the centre of their strategies.
We believe that the time when relationships stop when the transaction is complete has passed. We want to always be present for our client to make him feel that we keep our promises.
Being reliable means establishing a relationship of trust with the customer that is created and nourished over the course of time, up to a point of maximum understanding.
Finally, the values. Everything that Flexofem will put into practice to achieve its goals.
If it is true that it is essential to have the technical skills to offer an output that satisfies the customer, it is equally true that there are different ways of operating in the business.
We are interested in maintaining a relationship with the customer that values the person, which goes beyond the position held. In short, an approach that enhances the human component of the business because we are aware that people make the company and only if they feel appreciated and motivated, we can aim for great results.
Our path in the flexographic printing sector
We embarked on a path of improvement and innovation towards a digitalization of the company that we are pursuing still today and which will define our company for the coming years. Yes, because at Flexofem we are convinced that you never stop learning, that a skill learned today will not necessarily be valid tomorrow and that the team and customer orientation make the difference in today’s business.
We are putting everything we have at the service of this great project that will lead the company to change and dominate the new market dynamics.
Open innovation applied to the production of flexographic printing machinery
The mindset that we have at Flexofem has certainly led us to approach the company structure in a different way.
We follow the logic of open innovation by preferring a continuous and constant comparison between the various players who work with and for the company, in order to obtain a lean and at the same time dynamic structure that can allow us to face the market news in an innovative way.
Although we have been present in the sector for many years now, we believe that one of the keys for success is to always evolve. Never to consider a solution as definitive, even if this has led to success in the past.
The rule of « it has always been done this way » does not apply in the business, for this reason we wanted to renew the internal processes of the company to offer the customer not only a qualitatively excellent flexographic printing machine, but also to make the customer live a satisfactory purchase experience over time.
In fact, customer satisfaction must not end when the machinery is purchased but must be a path of gratification for both parties both before and after the sale.
The value of assistance in flexographic printing
Our assistance service has always been our flagship, which has allowed us to retain old customers and keep them over the years. However, we wanted to take another step further precisely because we believe that satisfying the customer is not enough.
What we want is to delight the customer, go beyond his expectations and give him something more, and this is why we have improved and digitized our customer service, so that customers, collaborators and the production can follow step by step the construction process of each machine.
We therefore do not want to simply wait for customer requests and then process them only in time of need. In fact, we want to go further and follow the customer constantly by offering proactive assistance.
A relationship where we contact the customer in order to ensure that he knows every day how to make the most of a complex machine such as that for flexographic printing.
At Flexofem we like the crossing-over of new ideas and proposals, often coming from other sectors, more dynamic and modern, and a multi sided platform where the different players that contribute in the construction process of a machine meet is the expression of this step forward that we wanted to do, leaving behind long and cumbersome processes consisting of mail, pdf, fax requests that wasted a lot of time.
This is just one of the many examples that makes us look at the challenges of the future with confidence in the project that we have undertaken
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Production of flexographic printing machines. For us it is made in Italy.
The heart of our company is oriented towards the realization of high-quality flexographic printing machinery. The result is a product conceived and designed entirely in Italy.
At Flexofem, we build different types of machinery, trying to create every type of printing press according to customer needs, based on a tailor-made construction process.
Having the ability to make such different products immediately has brought us face to face with the problem of how to manage all production processes in the best way without affecting the efficiency of the process. We have therefore planned a diversified production depending on the type of press to be delivered to the customer, although starting from a design carried out entirely in Italy for all products.
We can therefore say that our machines are entirely conceived, designed and engineered in Italy drawing on the know-how acquired over many years in this specific sector.
Two kinds of production for flexographic printing machinery
Flexofem can offer various types of flexographic printing presses. This capacity has led us to differentiate production according to the complexity of the equipment.
Some critical parts of our printing machine and some special items, along with our « Equipment » (<- link to Equipment section), are entirely projected, designed and manufactured in Italy. Our products are conceived in a modular way which allows us to be extremely fast even in the installation phase.
For the type of central drum printing press, the most important parts of the machine, such as the printing unit, are constructed in Italy, while the remaining parts are assembled in the factory of our partner DongHang, which has been one of the main Chinese companies in the printing machine field for the last 30 years.
Offering the customer a product that was entirely the result of a design made in Italy is our priority. With this, the customer is aware that every request, every need is acknowledged and designed by Flexofem, and only later assembled in China.
From the request to the production of a flexographic printing press
When the customer gets in touch with Flexofem, he has already an idea of what could be a machine that meets his needs, but to refine the request he is supported by our design office. From here begins the ideation phase of the new machine in a continuous dialogue between the various players which is the constant for Flexofem in the production process of flexographic printing machines.
After the customer has been supported and helped in the search for the best necessities to be met, the project is finally defined.
The phase that starts here can be different depending on the type of technology required, but regardless if the production takes place in Italy or in China, an essential component of company management cannot be missing, communication.
In fact, the implementation phase sees a constant dialogue between the various offices through real-time communication, which allows the two parties to remain constantly updated. An expedient that saves us useful time which adds up in the entire construction process.
Our partner in China
In China there are therefore both the offices and the production site of our machinery.
The partnership we have decided to form with DongHang allows us to produce the machinery at more advantageous costs in order to have less impact on the final price for the customer. But the added benefit of this operation lies in the extremely high specialization of this company, currently considered one of the most important companies in China as regards this type of machinery.
China: a choice to optimize the production process
In a world that is moving faster and faster, it is good to break down the stereotypes that pervade our country.
In recent years, Chinese technological progress has revolutionized the world and has finally brought China among the great powers capable of generating not only large volumes of sales but above all associating them with first-class quality.
Today globalization and digitalization has made it possible to shorten the distances between the Far East and the Old Continent, allowing many Chinese people to train, study, and implement best practices capable of generating excellence in every production site in the world.
We strongly believe in the value of continuous training and the cross-over of ideas, skills and experience, we believe therefore that only by building a relationship of this type can we aim to offer a product of the highest quality.
Production of flexographic printing machinery: we believe in Open innovation
Crossing over and sharing know-how is possible today even if we talk about production between two companies that are 10,000 km apart and allows us, as a company, to rely on a lean and dynamic structure that manages to face the challenges of the business better than how we have done in the past.
We are happy to live in a historical period in which the digital switch allows us to collaborate with an engineer in China as if he were in the next room, to speak in real time and collaborate to find innovative solutions and generating new possibilities that were unthinkable until a few years ago. .
In the production process of flexographic printing machinery, this synergy is fundamental and allows rapid growth on both sides. In fact, Italian engineers and Chinese managers currently use the possibilities offered by digital technologies to communicate every day, to always have control of the progress of orders.
To further optimize this process, we will shortly activate a section of our online platform for the Chinese production division in order to transform our website into a real multi-sided platform that allows all players to find all the information in one single place.
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Manage support: our new platform
In the innovation process that we started at Flexofem a few months ago, one of the essential elements, that we never questioned, was that of providing the customer with the best possible service.
We are convinced that the customer has to always be placed at the centre of our strategies and we believe that his satisfaction does not only include having a perfectly functioning machine, but also having an extremely efficient customer service that can follow him in all the phases of the customer journey.
Starting with the search for information, to the purchase, and then to after-sales assistance, we are committed to following the customer using all the necessary tools. The last of which is our new online platform.
Producing flexographic printing machinery means producing an extremely complex equipment. It involves thousands of components and the assembly process is a delicate activity that requires the utmost care by the project managers, especially because our machinery are designed and built based on the specific needs of each customer.
Considering that among our buyersthere are companies operating in essential sectors, it is crucial to give always a perfect output.
Providing first level support is our mission that characterizes every choice we made, and a completely innovative website enable us to achieve these objectives.
From the assistance to the production process, and again back to the assistance
We design and manufacture all types of flexographic printing machinery and we take care of all the steps of the process following the agile methodology, that meanscontinuous dialogue with the customer.
Guaranteeing a customer service that follows step by step every moment of the customer’s purchasing process also means leading him to the best choice of the product.
When a customer needs to purchase a machine, he can choose various specifications based on his requirements and this means designing a machine with certain specifications that meet his needs.
Helping him at this stage allows us to obtain the most in terms of efficiency and satisfaction, but we do not stop there. We are present in all phases, even more so in the after-sales.
What do we mean by customer service?
For us, thekeywordin designing our portal has always been simplicity.
Ease of content use, but also in contacting Flexofem assistance and interacting with it.
Our new site is indeed characterized by an extreme ease of use, not even remotely imaginable until recently, also because of the limits imposed by the technologies.
Today the customer who wants to contact our support is able to recover all the necessary information, wasting much less time than before.
Within the new Flexofem website, in fact, every customer who needs immediate and in-depth support can access the reserved area from where he will have access to various options to find answers to his questions.
If the customer has questions concerning the design or the operation of a machine, he can easily open a ticket in which he will ask all his questions. This ticket will be immediately taken over by Flexofem’s support until the assistance is completed.
Assistance: ticket management
In our idea of innovative development, we use the lean methodology of visual management to obtain the result without wasting time and resources.
When a customer opens a ticket, the Flexofem support team will receive the request and process it as soon as possible.
If the requests pile up, they are catalogued and divided according to their progress. In this way, Flexofem support will always have clear the status of the processes.
Not only that, once the customer service has been completed, it will be even easier to recover the same information later, further reducing the waiting time for a future request.
Following the customer and solving his problems is one of Flexofem’s values. At the same time, we believe it is equally important to help new leads understand our product and give them a taste of how the support ecosystem will be once the purchase is complete.
We have therefore eliminated all the cumbersome processes that characterize the first phase of the customer’s customer journey by affecting the effectiveness of assistance.
With the new platform we therefore are going to provide not only more information to the customer but above all we provide only the necessary information, at the right time.
All the improvements we have implemented are designed to ensure an agile working methodology.
At a time like this, the customer needs quick answers, and to be always followed throughout the purchase process. As a result the two parts are always updated to avoid further waste of time.
The innovation processes that we have brought to our modus operandi therefore guarantee us a totally innovative approach that we know is the right formula to achieve the improvements sought.
Our new site is the result of these values.
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Our strategy: Innovation
If it is true that the crisis that followed the coronavirus pandemic has shuffled many cards, it is equally true that some companies will benefit from the new status quo. They are the companies that will not give up, thatwillkeep putting their beliefsinto play, which seekcontinuous improvement. Allthese companies havethe genes of innovation in their DNA.
The forecasts of the global market are uncertain but at the same time they hide opportunities, for those who will be able to seize them, in various sectors,even in the worldofflexographic printing machines. At Flexofem we are ready to accept the challenges that the future will present.
It is reasonable to think that -unfortunately -this crisis will put under pressuremany companies unprepared for change.However,it will not be the same for those who have already set an innovation path.
The realitiesthat willsuffer less from the blowof this crisiswillin factbe those companies that had already started to innovate. We are happy to say:companies like us.
We felt the need to innovate our processes when it became clear that the market was moving at an ever-increasingspeed. Areas such as purchases, assistance, customer journeys and other business logic have shown enormous potential recently, if managed in aninnovative way.
Following a modern approach that mademore effective not only company management, but more generally the production and supplychain of flexographic machines,has always been the great challengefor us.
This goal, one of the most challenging ever, has also allowed us to set a growth pathfor the entireFlexofemstaff, because if it is a fact that the change starts from the people whomake up the company, it is also true that these must be encouragedand helpedto visualize the goal making them part ofthetransformation process of the company.
Having a shared mindsetwithin the companyallows everyone to row in the same direction by eliminating outdateddynamics that reducethe individual’s engagement at the expense of corporate health.
We therefore believethat an innovative approachwill be even more important in the near futurewhen the market logic will change even furtherthanksto a massive use of technology.
In fact, the concept of digitizationwill be ofstrategic importance tous.Being ready, even in a pandemic situation, means responding quickly to new needs. For example,by embracing smart working in order to maintain the same levels of reactivity towards customers, but alsoin orderto keepdirect contact with our production sites located in China and Italy,in a system of continuous dialogue to collectthe best of each project.
The role of Flexofem, as a strategic supplier of companies operating in essential activitiessuch as the packaging, especially in the food sector, requires usto always find a solution to guarantee correct customer service; not by chance innovative solutions to existing problems make the difference in business.
We believe that the key to overcomingthese crises always passesthrough adaptability, and this alsomeans seeingnew challengesnot justas temporary situations, but taking advantage of this situationto test new ways of working, which in the future will includethe organization ofthestaff, such as remoteworking.
We believe that digital transformation is today an essential component of the innovative process.
It isexactlyon digitalization that we are creating the basis for a new relationship with the customer, moredirect, more agile. We will do it through our new website. A platform where our customers and our companywill dialogue easily.
But don’t think that we are moving away from you relegatingthe relationship to technology alone. In fact, we are convinced ofthe importance of the relationship between the company and the customer andas wellofthehuman contact, but at the same time we want to relate to technology in the correct way: taking advantage ofit and using it to meet common needs, such as promoting contact with distant subjects, or to enable customers to discover our new products and communicate with us in the simplest way possible by eliminating frictions.
We do not stop.
The crisis has forced all companies to redefine some parameters that until a few months ago seemed to be carved in stone as the founding systems of our economy.
The challenge that we have decided to face will let us grow first as a team and then as a company and it willgive us that confidence that allows us to tacklethe future with a certain amountof confidence, because if we all agree that we should not underestimate the storms coming, at the same time having ateamand a clear goal to pursueallows usto deal withadversity with another attitude. Withconfidencein one’s own ability.
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