Designing The Zero-Defect Workflow: Rigid Processes Drive High Quality Packaging Metrics At JohnsByrne

Published On: June 10, 2021

“Quality isn’t a test you pass. It’s a lifestyle you live. Every day.”

According to Jack Gustafson, COO at JohnsByrne, that mentality is what’s truly required to drive premium performance from any quality program. And it’s what JohnsByrne has put in place to build its Tier 1 quality program.

Consider that JohnsByrne is able to meet or exceed the high-quality packaging standards of the most particular customers in the world. More importantly, that culture of rigorous, continuous quality improvement assures every JohnsByrne customer gets work that meets those same sky-high levels – Gold Standards – every time.

After all, if customers expect zero defects (literally, zero defects!), you need structure to do that. It can’t be achieved just by sending an email to the team. And when you’re producing millions of complex pieces per month, the consistency has to be simply amazing. Here’s how we do it.

Eight years ago, JohnsByrne determined that, unlike other packaging printers that seek simple compliance, it would go beyond that level by engaging with ISO to achieve full certification. It began with a committee of 14 people including senior leadership. Today, the result is an ISO platform, integrated throughout all business practices, workflows, and departments, audited annually with quarterly reviews of ISO performance, comparisons to previous years, and full accountability. And the Quality Team has grown to 20+ that includes not just the entire management team but many other key contributors.

The goal is ongoing, constant, continuous process improvement… embedded at all levels of management, with genuine buy-in from all employees… which is designed to make that improvement objective, visible and measurable.

Or, in the words of company President Corey Gustafson, “If you have data, you can measure it. If you don’t, it’s just gossip.”

Injecting Quality Into Packaging Design

That approach – embedding quality as an enterprise-wide business process – is what provides JohnsByrne with such traction and impact in its packaging design program. It’s not just something that affects the people on press, but everyone who touches every job, at every stage.

For everything we do, to meet our customers’ extraordinarily high standards, there is a workflow and a procedure, from planning to pre-production to production. For example, there could be as many as 16 different quality checks in every manufacturing process before it moves to the next step.

That means when you tour the plant, you may see an individual working on a job as if he or she is on their own. In fact, he’s not just on the task at one piece of equipment, but he’s part of an interconnected quality system based on a defined SOP. Everyone working on each job is all working together, by a script, not in isolation, with one process step building on the quality of the preceding work and all the work to follow.

Whew! All this and more, simply to foster innovation to a defined, replicable quality standard. Find risks and mitigate them. Create accountability up and down the line. Locate a problem, document it, where needed change the procedure to fix it permanently. Objectify everything. So it’s never just one person who may be remembering that something went wrong.

And always, keeping top of mind that customer satisfaction is the sole basis for ISO and quality programs in the first place.

In truth, ISO is just one standard of performance the team put in place. The quality process is built on a broad foundation of best practices and certifications the company has a built-in parallel with ISO certification that it has achieved over time:

  • G7 Master Qualification with Colorspace, its top tier performance level for assuring color consistency
  • PEFC Chain of Custody Certification for best sustainable quality practices
  • FSC® Chain of Custody Certification for best sustainable quality practices. (We offer two Sustainable Chain of Custody Certifications as our clients have preferences of which Chain of Custody they prefer.)

Leading Quality Among Printing & Packaging Companies

If the sole purpose of ISO and quality systems is to improve customer satisfaction, is it having that effect? To measure that (remember, everything ties back to data), JohnsByrne runs deep customer satisfaction surveys twice per year. Those responses are analyzed, with the results cranked into the continuous quality improvement process, which is embraced by employees, and constantly updated through open communication and questioning. “How did you do this? How could you do this better?” Everyone is responsible for their own quality. Everyone knows their own deliverables. Driving the variability out to drive the quality up.

Our surveys state customer satisfaction as Net Promoter Scores, an industry-standard benchmark of satisfaction used around the world. In our most recent surveys, JohnsByrne scored an 84 NPS score out of 100, and we’re very proud of that! As a benchmark, the average B2B company posts NPS scores between 25-33!* In fact, according to a study of 150,000 companies even including consumer products like cars and electronic devices, the median for all companies is 44, and the top performers score 72+.** So we’re certainly in great company!

We’re not shooting for medians, because being middle of the pack is simply not acceptable. So we measure monthly, review quarterly, look for trends. All our processes, responsibilities, checks, and balances have evolved within this structure, which helps immensely in onboarding new hires. (After all, the point is to mitigate the risk of a mistake, and new hires by definition introduce a new source of risk until they’re fully trained.)

This brings us back to the real benefit. Fewer product returns for rework. Fewer customer complaints. Far better insight into the challenges that new, innovative designs will present in production, enabling us to train press teams (for example) to make exacting changes to our process to assure compliance before problems arise.

None of this came easily or quickly. Genuine ISO quality improvement is as much a cultural change within the entire enterprise as it is a set of procedures. Leaders must learn to manage and mentor. Excellence must resonate across the floor. Customers must be allowed to “get close” to employees and vice versa. Pride and passion for the work and the results take time to build.

In fact, while most companies run a quality system, Nina says JohnsByrne has a “secret sauce” that makes theirs more effective than most: senior leadership participation.

“Senior management is not just buying into the process, they are a hands-on contributor right alongside the rest of us in our quality programs,” she explained. “Together, we all put in place a system that ensures that even our smallest customers get the same treatment and attention to quality as our biggest. That’s what’s responsible for the results here, making sure that we can pass any customer’s quality audit, no matter how rigorous.”

And those results today more than speak for themselves. Read more about our quality systems and all of our certifications.


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