Spring Into Cleaning
We don’t know about you, but we feel much better when all of our inventory is nice and organized. It’s easy to find your shop a little more disheveled than anticipated when you get busy printing. Many people take this time to reorganize and spruce up. We’ve come up with some great tips to help get things in order.
First, ink inventory can certainly become a disaster easily. Few print shops can boast squeaky clean storage areas, and kudos to those of you who can! This is the perfect time of year to go through and check your inventory for any inks that have gone past their shelf-life or that have started gelling. By cleaning out expired inventory, you are making room for new stock. It also gives you an idea of what products you used, and which ones weren’t as popular as you thought they might have been. It is important to always dispose of ink responsibly.
While sorting through the inks that are still usable, it is a good time to go ahead and scrub up the containers as well. Your inventory will look much fresher (and it may be easier to read the labels) if there is not dried ink on the outside. We recommend using isopropyl alcohol and a little elbow grease to remove ink that has dried. Many people have also suggested rubbing down surfaces with sandpaper for particularly stubborn areas. This may be more difficult when dealing with cured UV inks than other types.
Faux Wood Shelf Liner
Another way to keep your storage area looking more pristine is to line your shelves with a removable liner that will help to keep any ink spills off your shelves. Some businesses use newspaper or cardboard for this purpose. Others might opt for a little nicer look and can line their shelves with decorative adhesive (or non-adhesive) shelf liners which come in a variety of designs from faux wood to damask. These can be purchased easily at just about every major retailer, including Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Amazon, sometimes even your local Dollar Tree!
As you place your inks back on the shelves, you may consider the most optimal way of organizing them. We find that organizing your products by ink line seems to work the best, followed by product number. It is important to keep to whichever system you decide on as you acquire more inks so that they stay in order throughout the year. It also helps to keep track of what products are on hand at any given point. This will not only look nice, but will likely save you money because you will be less likely to purchase inks you already have, and also keep you from losing money by waiting on inks you thought you did. Stacking inks is highly discouraged when organizing your inventory.
This same theory of organization applies if you use screens in your shop. Screens are best organized by job and/or screen type. While you are organizing your screens, you might want to use this opportunity to see if any of them could use a little cleaning up or repairs as well.
We also highly suggest (as we learned the hard way last year) to keep glitter separate from your inks. Very far away. As far away as possible. Maybe not even in the same building (okay, maybe not THAT separate). This can go for all sorts of other materials as well that might get into your inks and cause a headache.
This is also a fantastic opportunity to throw things away and declutter. Now is a good time to dispose of your unsalvageable squeegees, screens, and substrates.
Spring cleaning is also a great time to think about the air you and your employees are breathing at work too. If you haven’t already, you may consider investing in a high-quality air purifier. Not only will it help remove allergens and trap other particles, but it will also help to keep dust and lint at bay in your shop – saving your crew some cleaning! However, not all air purifiers are equal. For that reason, we’ve included a link that breaks down what you should look for in an air purifier https://medium.com/@hellowynd/air-purifiers-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-f28d4c350534.
Speaking of air purifiers, now is also an ideal time to replace air filters on printing presses and blow out those fans out. This will help keep your machinery in top condition. While your machines are receiving a little TLC, your crew may want to clean printheads and ink systems, especially if you use solvent inks. Do not remove printheads however. Leave that to professionals. Also be sure to ensure that bulbs are in good order and running at appropriate millijoules/watts and that machines are properly calibrated.
While you and your printing crew are in the shop cleaning up, this is also an ideal time to have your safety personnel clean house up front by making sure that everything is in regulatory compliance. This might mean ensuring that all the MSDS sheets are in order and up to date. It is also a good time to ensure that any OSHA and DOT (DNR/EPA) requirements are being satisfied, as there are many requirements that must be renewed annually. There are other environmental options that could be considered during this time, such as energy efficient lighting. Any time is a good time to change to energy-efficient lighting, which not only reduces your company’s carbon footprint – but saves you money!