How Domino Printing is pushing the boundaries of Operational Excellence?

Domino Printing keeps winning! Adding The Manufacturer MX Award 2018 for Operational Excellence to its plaudits, Domino was recognised for one of the foundations of its strong growth in the UK and world markets.

Steven Barr talked with operations director Carl Haycock and colleagues to learn what it takes to stay at the forefront of manufacturing  operational excellence.

Domino Printing’s Cambridge operation is well known to the judges of The Manufacturer MX Awards. I’ve had the real pleasure of visiting several times and meeting the people who drive their success.

But there is no resting on laurels; Carl Haycock’s team continues to improve the business in all areas of operation, keeping up with increasing demand that they seem to be generating for themselves.

In 2019 Domino opened a new 16,000 sqm plant making specialist inks for its range of printing technologies.

CROP - Domino Printing Services - winner of Operational Excellence at The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

How do they keep up the momentum?

Excellent people, processes and products. Simple as that. Chris Blake, group head of manufacturing excellence describes how they have replaced their effective manual T-Card issue tracking process with a new E-Card system.

“E-Card works on our mobile phones, so absolutely anyone can scan a location code, raise an issue and allocate it straight away – then follow progress to see what’s happening. Potential problems, and just as important, improvement ideas are being addressed more quickly, before they affect production, and there’s a much greater feeling of teamwork.”

Now all live work schedules are also available on mobiles. The initiative was developed in-house as Mark Lammin, manufacturing engineering manager explains.

“Gerald Wood had a special interest in data and created a portal for the manufacturing engineering team to monitor operational performance. When new production lines and test equipment came in, he was able to connect data acquisition to the portal, and the result is we have a very agile system linking product delivery with machine use in the hands of the people who run the factory.”

Carl also singles out Arturas Borkertas, a member of the final test team. He started looking at how best to staff the three end-of-line test stations and came up with an optimal working pattern. Now he has been seconded into the manufacturing engineering team where his analytical skills and interest in electronics are a perfect fit.

The Manufacturer MX Awards 2019 Open for Entries

Improving that interaction of people with production continues to be a focus for Carl and manufacturing manager Belinda Pryor.

“Flexibility has always been a characteristic of Domino operations,” says Belinda “Now we have introduced more structure and automation of repetitive processes; this helps reduce variation and there are fewer delays and far fewer problems reported by customers.”

The results are clear – on-time delivery of products to the customer specification is now up to 98%.

Digital technologies, focused on areas where they can make the greatest difference to productivity, are strengthening not replacing Domino’s culture of empowered operational excellence.

The well-established four-level management system is still a mainstay of continuous performance improvement.

‘Level 1’ issues are monitored and dealt with locally, with escalation where appropriate to functional teams who can change working instructions at Level 2 and, for cross-business issues to the functional heads at Level 3.

Carl’s senior leadership team runs the monthly Level 4 review of key performance metrics combined with personal observation from their gemba walks. The performance data, filtered at the appropriate levels, is displayed on the factory floor for all to see and respond to.

Machine-based decision-making is another area of technological innovation supporting Domino’s people to do their jobs better. As Carl points out, “We’ve gone from a lengthy process of calibrating ink jet printers at the end of production to configuring sub-assemblies that have been fully tested at the earliest stages. This is giving us better predictability of customer delivery dates and higher yields too.”

Automation and better use of data are not taking away jobs, despite concerns heard in the industry as a whole, as Carl explains. “Our people are moving into service roles and continuous improvement roles where the knowledge and skills they have developed with us can be put to even better use.”

 This article first appeared in the May issue of The Manufacturer magazine. Click here to subscribe 

Improvements won’t stop in the factory

The next stage of Domino’s continuous improvement journey will focus on outbound logistics, allowing Domino to schedule, view and measure delivery performance to the end customer located around the world, and not just from the factory gate, using a new web portal integrated with real-time data from Domino’s production line.

Domino continues to learn from best practice in other businesses, in this case the mighty Amazon. “And we are seeing many more customers in the factory,” says Carl. “They tend to be manufacturers themselves, and we are all learning from each other.”

What tips does Carl have for other manufacturers? “Simple works best, with visibility of what’s going on so we can improve things in real time. It is better to do 90% of the work well with simple systems than try to do everything too cleverly and fail.

Make sure you do enough in all areas, connecting across people, processes and products. And make quality visible in all ways – we go out of our way to have great facilities, not just shiny floors and walls! Our KPI room is used for coffee-break discussions with the evidence of what’s going on all around. We take pride in who we are, with branded workwear, and we give and receive strong feedback.”

With their talent for technological innovation and empowered people, I’ve no doubt Domino will continue to push the boundary of operational excellence. Strong growth is already on the books for 2019, across both UK sites. More prizes must surely be in sight for the Domino people who drive operational excellence in processes and the products so sought after by their customers.


Dr Steven Barr is a chartered engineer and expert in manufacturing business transformation through technologies, people and partners.

He is the managing director of EDGE Digital Manufacturing, The Manufacturer’s advisory services partner, helping SMEs to leverage digital technologies to maximise their competitive edge.

He also leads the not-for-profit community interest company DRL-Tool.org with UK industry-wide support to maintain and improve the standards-setting Digital Readiness Level Tool.