Recently I asked three of our printers why it is so important for us to deliver our files on schedule. And all three basically gave the same answer.

Printer A: We, as all printers, have hundreds of customers, who need jobs manufactured to meet their delivery requirements. Every job we produce requires a measurable amount of time to complete. The larger and more complex a job, obviously the longer amount of time we need. When our clients specify a delivery date, we figure the time we need to complete the work. If we can’t begin on time, there’s less chance that we can deliver on time. Also, during the times that we are producing the job for Hammock Inc., we have other work in our plant with similar demands.
Printer B: The schedules we develop for our clients are to meet their needs. Clients look for a specific in-home date. Based on this date, we work the schedule backwards and determine when we need the files to meet the dates. Our practice for late files is for every extra day it takes to get the files, we may need matching days to complete the job from start to finish. But we will always do whatever we can to get our clients’ jobs out the door.
Printer A: There are only so many hours in a day, and when a customer is late with files, we are generally forced into being late as well.
Printer C: Each schedule is driven by the client’s delivery date of the job. We create the latest possible press date (within a certain comfort level) to meet that delivery date. The later the date we are able to give, the greater the benefits for the client (the ability to sell more advertising, write more articles, be more timely, etc.)
Simply put: if the client is late with their files, the printer may not have enough time available to print and bind prior to the mailing date.
Question: What happens if we are late with files?
Printer A: Anytime your job is delayed getting to us, it changes our schedule and involves other jobs we have planned or in progress. Each department (prepress, pressroom, and bindery) is affected. To accommodate late files, one solution is overtime, but that can be very costly, either eating into our profit margin or adding costs to your job. Another challenge when a client supplies late files is finding open spots within the now altered schedules, and this depends on other jobs already in process.
Printer B: With our extensive computer to plate and press capacity, we usually don’t have much trouble making up press time due to late files.
The binding, polybagging, mailing and shipping departments have a harder time making up lost days. Clients are slotted for specific machines at specific times. When that time is missed, other times must be found to complete the tasks required.
Bulk shipments also have to be hand packaged and shipped by our Handwork department, which has a small number of employees who ship out on average 1,100 packages a day. This is why we sometimes can meet the mail dates but have a delay in getting the bulk shipments to our clients.
Printer C: The schedule allows the printer to fit all of our clients’ work together on the most efficient equipment to meet their individual needs. If clients supply late materials, we may need to find alternative options to produce the work, which may have added costs to the printer and the client. Options could include changing press equipment (which may result in paper waste or more press forms), removing jobs from co-mails (which would result in more postage), change in plants for part of the work (which could result in interplant freight costs), and ultimately if we’re pushed beyond the point of options, we have to go to a later delivery date for the magazine.
Question: What else can cause printers to miss completion of a job on schedule?
Printer B: Other items that can also delay completion of a job are missing mail files, inserts, postal funds, outserts, letters or preaddressed label carriers. Anything that is being supplied to us that must go with the product we are printing.
Question: What else do you need to know to meet our deadlines?
Printer A: In addition to deadlines, knowing the quantities and page counts required for each job allows us to place the order for paper. We don’t want paper delivery or availability to be a delay.
In other words, deadlines are like vegetables. However distasteful they can sometimes be, they are for your own good.