SHOULD BE ACCURATE:
prospective buyer wishes to know the price of the job that
he wants to print. He may have a specimen or not. An
estimator must study the specimen of the job to be printed
at his press; or in the absence of any specimen or layout,
he may ask the buyer specifications of the job and
accordingly visualise it. He calculates the cost of the job
in advance and adds it, a certain percentage or amount as
profit and arrives at a figure. This is called an estimate.
The estimate should neither be too high, as it will drive
off the job, nor too low, as it will incur loss to the firm.
Hence it is desirable that the estimate should be accurate.
The task of the estimator, therefore, is to visualise the
job and quote the price accurately.
Calculation of raw materials-paper, straw board, ink
etc., required for the job and their cost;
to determine the size and type face (including leading,
if any) in a given area. Mostly, this work is done by
copy, to determine the number of pages;
of operational times in composition, printing and
binding and extension of appropriate hourly cost rates;
cost of out work, if any; material expenses on the basis
of value if paper, ink etc. (This is expressed as a
percentage to value if the material consumed) and on the
basis of Kilograms weight, to cover the expenses of
buying, storing, and handling.
cost-as a percentage to production cost: and profit .
The essence of estimating is accurate pricing, planning of
the job and delivery of printed goods at the appropriate
OF THE ESTIMATOR:
The estimator should have good knowledge of the printing
process or processes used in the press. He should know the
sequence of operations of the job. He should be good at
figures, be accurate and must have speed in estimating. He
should be conscious of cost and therefore, must have basic
knowledge in costing.
The estimator prepares an estimate according to the
specifications of the job. He may if necessary, suggest
slight changes or modifications in the job so as to give the
buyer the same job at the lowest possible price. He sends
the quotation to the buyer. It is safe to insert, in
quotation, the clause, "Quotation is based upon job
specifications given by you, any alteration in it will be
charged extra". On receiving the order of the estimated
job, the estimator, under the order from the proprietor
sales manager instructs the work order clerk it prepare work
instruction ticket according to the job specifications on
the estimate form. He sees that the jobs are progressed
according to the schedule. He co-ordinates work in the press
departments with the help of foreman or superintendents. He
sends message to the customer on completion if the job to
take delivery of the goods from the factory premises and
also to pay the entire bill. He is a link
between the buyer and the seller on the one hand and between
the sales and production departments on the other. Estimator
is a salesman. He can convince the buyer butter than a sales
representative. He can deal directly with the customer and
decide upon the price if job. He plans the job
schedule, persuades it to give the printed copies at the
appointed time. He controls the quality of the product,
takes measures for minimising the waste and ensures cost
control of the product. His aim is to give satisfaction if
the product to the buyer at the lowest possible cost and
still earn profit to the press. He is aware that profit is
the blood of the business and if any business is to exist,
there must be profit.
No Business, however flourishing, can last
indefinitely if does not make a profit. The cost of the
product is always to be watched in relation to its price.
The raw materials must pass through several departments
before a final product is obtained and it is essential that
each of the departments is efficient by itself. Certain
non-productive departments engaged in specialised functions,
however, are exceptions-planning, research and development
departments of instance-for they are tuned to a different
goal, and should be viewed as long term investments.
Although their efforts are not quite as apparent as those if
the productive departments, they make a substantial
contribution to the profit, often setting a new trend in the
While proper inter-departmental understanding would
enable each section to appreciate the role played by the
other, it is necessary that each department looks
within-towards itself-to maintain its standard of
efficiency. One must do it continuously and not take a
complacent attitude or bask in the pride of some past
achievements. Many a well-established press has had an
occasion to adopt some original ideas implemented by
smaller, younger presses. Intelligence and efficiency are
not the monopoly of a chosen few and no one has a universal
formula for profitability.
Profitability should not be an end by itself but an
attitude of mind. Before starting a new job-say plate
making-break it up into smaller sub-operations-in the case,
plate grinding, sensitising, printing down and so on. Apply
your mind and strive to achieve better results than in the
past. Perhaps you can cut down on time, think up using a
better material or utilise a more suitable machine.
Ask yourself if the particular operation or any
portion of it, can be dropped altogether or substituted by a
quicker, cheaper or a better one. If you trace the progress
in the industry, you will come across several instances
where we had been indulging in unnecessary operations.
Robust, analytical approach can help eliminate uneconomical
practices. We used to preserve composed type matter for
repeat print orders until someone thought of stereo plates.
Later, mono spools rendered the storage obsolete. Then came
art pulls for reprints by offset process. We do not know
what comes next. Only with an analytical examination, can
you determine the reason for every operation, and if you are
convinced of its essentiality, your personal involvement in
the task would be much deeper. A scientific mind refuses to
follow a beaten path because it is always being done that
SHOULD DO IT ?
If the task must be performed, see if you are getting it
done by the right man. If a semiskilled man is entrusted
with it, his incompetence would reflect on the performance.
The quality would suffer, and so would you. On the other
hand, a senior man required to carry out an inferior job
would feel demoralised. In both the cases, the operation
works out to be uneconomical.
Go over he whole set of tasks mentally. Think of various
possible ways of accomplishing them. Some new ideas would
appear to be wild. Do not discard them. The methods now in
practice, must also have appeared ridiculous when first
conceived. On being tried out, they were found to be
practicable and superior. Your idea could well prove to be a
revolutionary one. In a large press, the sheets were loaded
on the printing machine straight from the reams. The uneven
paper sizes as they come in a pack, caused tremendous
problems in the subsequent operations. Until a junior
folding machine operator suggested that the paper edges be
trimmed square prior to printing. The acceptance of this
simple idea resulted in faster production and considerable
reduction in wastage.
List out the operations in their usual sequence, then try to
rationalise the order. You would find that certain
operations can be carried out simultaneously, thus saving
precious time, or the whole sequence can be altered
completely. It was a common practice to cut the sewn books
after gluing the spine and allowing them to dry. It was,
however, found that the results were much better when the
sewn books were cut immediately after taking them out if the
standing press. Here, it was just a small reversal of the
sequence that resulted in faster, neater books.
The place of operation is important too. Transporting the
in-process job back and forth can be cumbersome and
wasteful. The departments should be located so the job
involves the least possible movement. In one press, the
paper store was located on the first floor, the printing and
punching operations were done on the ground floor whereas
the binding operations were carried out on the first and
second floors. This arrangement caused considerable hardship
transporting the material from floor to floor. The layout
had to be changed completely to re-locate the plant and
machinery to minimise the transportation. Careful thinking
at the initial stages could have avoided the shifting of
We often tend to look at the spoilage of paper, boards and
inks as wastage but lose sight of idle machine hours
(waiting for forme, corrections, colour mixing, machine
break down due to neglected maintenance or running about for
storable machine spares) dismissing them as unavoidable.
This speaks for inefficient management and can result in
lower morale and reduced enthusiasm for achievement.
Higher prices are often defended by quoting a famous author:
There is nothing that someone cannot make a little worse
and sell a little cheaper. But we can proudly say,
"There is nothing that we cannot make a little better
and sell a little cheaper. When this is accomplished, you
are on the road to success