Please consider the environment before printing, think green and many more phrases to try and stop us from printing endless reams of paper. Yet, when it comes to the office and factory of some truss plants this rule seems to go out the window.

I was at a truss plant recently and they wanted to discuss an issue with a project, they obtained the file, and withdrew from it some 45 pages of A3 plans to cover the Architectural and Engineering for the job. Well I guess some places would be happy to have a complete set of plans for the job, and not just an offcut of timber with some scratching’s.

My point is that 99% of the plans today are in a PDF format or, CAD of some sort. So, is there a need to print anything?

Today there isn’t too many truss plants where their Timber Systems Designers don’t have at least two (2) screens, so the plans go on one and the design software goes on the other. Having said that I’m from the old school and I do like to have some paper to make notes and measurements on, so a floor plan is all I usually print off.

It doesn’t take long to work out how many quotes you do as to how much paper will be used, and then we print it all again when we get the construction drawings.

Let’s take this to the factory, not all truss plants have the luxury of a paperless operation, so the volume of paper used is enormous, albeit only A4 I hear you say. Add to this the ink used, the wear and tear on your printer or, if you lease your printer and pay by the copy WOW! That will be big bucks! $$$$

So Here’s The Challenge!


The challenge for this month is to find out how much paper you use, and then have a look at your cost.

Do this remembering that every time the printer is used, someone has to go and pick it up and put it somewhere. Then when it comes to the factory it has to be distributed to the workers, so they can do their bit, and when they are finished with it what happens to it? How much down time is this?

A paperless factory is a lot cheaper than you think, with the price of a large TV screen 55” about $600 and a 65” about $1000 and a computer to run it becoming cheaper all the time. The upside is the tracking you can do of a job without having to leave your seat, the data and information that will assist you with manufacturing efficiencies making your business grow its bottom line.

So, at the end of the day what paper work do we need to print?

Plans, architectural and engineering – one floor plan (A3) for us old school people, but that’s all

Quotes with a layout showing roof and floor trusses – this should be zero unless your customer doesn’t have email as everything is in a pdf format these days

Layouts for site – 2 x A3 colour and laminated for the carpenter to nail up on the frame work for all to see and 3 x A4 black and white for the chippy to carry in their nail bag. Some plants are emailing the layout to the carpenter, so they can set out in advance, so this may even become less.

Delivery dockets (A4) – 1 for the yardman for loading, 1 for site for receiving equalling a total of 2. But what about the ancillary picker you say? Well they have a tablet or computer at their station.

Factory for manufacture – zero

Building surveyor certification, drawings and reports – zero (PDF)

Factory production reports for administration – zero (PDF)

Office reports for administration – zero (PDF)


Total amount of paper used for quoting 1-2 x A3 and manufacturing, 3-4 x A3 and 3-4 x A4

We need to use technology to our advantage and this is definitely one area where you can save big.

This edition of Biz Buzz was written by Phil Ladson of Ladson Consulting.