Centralization first: For Coca-Cola Enterprises, standardized printing bubbles up with Lean opportunity

In a time when companies are seeking to leverage every opportunity to reduce costs, Lean's core tenets are delivering big benefits in unexpected places. For Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), printing touches business-critical processes in plenty of places: pick lists in the warehouse, interbranch transfers, and shipping documents. A centralized printing management initiative reaped millions in savings for CCE's green-minded managers.<br/>


With deep roots in manufacturing production, Lean’s key premise—the reduction or elimination of waste—has broad applicability across business processes. It entails taking a fresh look at entrenched work patterns and sharply questioning assumptions.

In a time when companies are seeking to leverage every opportunity to reduce costs, lean’s core tenets are delivering big benefits in unexpected places.

“Printing isn’t sexy,” says Russ Thyret, director of global end-user support for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the world’s largest bottler/distributor of Coke products. But a major objective of our business is the identification and elimination of waste. It is part of our DNA.”

After creating a formal procurement organization in 2000, it became clear to Thyret—while visiting many of CCE’s 435 North American facilities—that “printing provided a huge opportunity for savings.”

CCE grew tremendously in the 1990s by acquisition in North America and Western Europe. As a result, the number of printers, copiers, multi-function devices, and scanners tallied more than 6,000 units from a host of vendors. The company had no understanding of true need, utilization, and life-cycle costs regarding maintenance and consumables such as paper and toner.

“We had no idea of the size of the prize,” Thyret says.

Centralization of purchasing and standardization were clear first steps. CCE invited printing solutions vendors to respond to requests for proposals.

Printing specialist Lexmark helped Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) gain visibility to paper consumption for more than 30 million pages per quarter initially, and continues to assist with recycing efforts as part of CCE’s sustainability initiative.

“We wanted someone to help us get our arms around the problem, and set realistic goals and expectations that made us stretch,” says Thyret. “We wanted to influence the partner’s technology road map to meet our needs.”

Lexmark stood out by offering the lowest five-year total cost of ownership, and the kind of partnership CCE was seeking: assistance with a phased program including contract maintenance services and an intelligence solution for gathering data on output, device utilization, and consumables—all aimed at increasing value and continually driving down waste and costs.

Printing touches business-critical processes, Thyret explains—including pick lists in the warehouse, interbranch transfers, and shipping documents.

“Without good data,” explains Thyret, “it’s difficult to walk into a facility and tell people we’re going to lower the number of printers they have and make the case in a way that they can appreciate the value.”

But the numbers now speak for themselves. CCE went from 16 vendors down to two; and from 116 models to less than 20. Regarding total number of devices, it went from more than 6,000 to 3,800, netting a $5-million reduction in capital expenditure.

Using data that Lexmark collects from all CCE networked output devices, CCE also cut $4.5 million in expenses due to toner usage optimization. Service and toner alerts, and reordering are fully automated.

Lexmark also helped CCE gain visibility to paper consumption for more than 30 million pages per quarter initially, and is assisting in how to effectively recycle in keeping with CCE’s corporate responsibility and sustainability initiative. Total ROI topped 45 percent for the first five years of the project.

“Lexmark stood up and delivered on what it said it would,” concludes Thyret. “When we meet with Lexmark now, it’s not to talk about problems we’re having, but what we want to do next.”

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