An exclusive report by Daniel Brunton.
Cepac came through the pandemic relatively unscathed. The perceived paper shortages were weathered, and thanks to strong relationships with its primary suppliers and customers, the company had a solid year in 2022. “Of course, the depth of commitment from our people has certainly ensured we are set for a solid year again,” says Steve Moss, Group Managing Director.
Investment for Cepac has been one of the key pillars, right since its inception in 1999. “Investment in people, machinery and services is what sets us apart,” continues Moss. “Recent announcements of business acquisition, machinery and of course the significant land deal next to our HQ will be the focus for the coming years. Our plan to develop a state of the art site next to our HQ in Rotherham will result in one of the best plants in the UK, if not the world.”
Sustainability is high on the agenda. Investment in energy-efficient equipment as well as a roll-out of solar energy helps Cepac follow its path of refining and showcasing its carbon positioning. “We are constantly committed to providing meaningful and impactful reductions in our direct energy use as we move forward to 2030,” says Moss. “Our reduction plan focuses upon using the best available technology to maximise efficiency in all areas of energy usage such as production, lighting, heating, insulation and the recycling of lost energy.”
As one of Cepac’s five sites in the UK, Rawcliffe Bridge is probably best known for chemicals, dangerous goods and transit packaging. It also produces a range of speciality packaging in place of single-use plastics; pizza bases produced from paper, for example, have replaced the former polystyrene discs. Cepac has a pipeline of new paper-based products which have been developed specifically for food packaging. The site has BRCGS accreditation to AA status, as well as passing the AA+ grade with an unscheduled visit in the summer of 2022. These key developments all them to supply a growing range of packaging for food and pharmaceuticals from the Rawcliffe Bridge site.
Most recently, the company has made a significant £10m investment in allowing for continued development of the site; a state-of-the-art rotary die-cutter will create more die-cut work to inject more work to run in the folding and gluing department, and thanks to high quality flexo post print on the same line, increase the Group’s capacity for printed packaging.
At the heart of the investment is a Koenig & Bauer Celmacch ChromaCUT X Pro, the first of its kind at any corrugated packaging plant in the UK. The machine at Cepac has been fitted with four flexo printing units; thanks to the high board line configuration, it means the machine can be running, for example, a two colour job and the machine operators can be setting up the next two colour job while it is running, for a near instant order change. The press can run at 12,000 sheets per hour and has a maximum width of 2.8m, meaning Cepac can produce multiple boxes from one large format sheet.
Another point of interest on the machine is its rotary die-cutting unit with automatic changeover system; this gives a considerable boost to productivity, as it can change the cutting die between jobs in a matter of minutes, thanks to a cylinder cassette loading system.
To ensure highest possible output, the line is very well automated – a Dücker pre-feeder unit keeps the stacks of board flowing, and at the end of the line, an Avanti Pegasus separator and bundling system gathers the printed and die-cut sheets and prepares them to go to the folding and gluing department, or straight to the customer for their case erectors.
“We have always had print capability at Rawcliffe Bridge, but we needed to replace some reliable, yet aging equipment,” adds Moss. “Many people have asked why we opted for the ChromaCUT X Pro, as there aren’t any others in the UK, but we have always had a good relationship with Koenig & Bauer, as we utilise their litho offset presses elsewhere in the Group. We feel that this new rotary die-cutter will help us elevate the quality of print, which is a benefit to the customer base, as we as for new customers.”
He expands, “With the new machine, we will be able to produce more high quality flexo post-print work, as well as displace other high quality print technologies as the market develops and seeks the most cost-effective solutions.”
In a move to ensure that the machine has hit the ground running, the company has put together a team of operators that will work across the two sites of Rotherham and Rawcliffe Bridge. The two sites have one Divisional Director and the team of operators have all taken ‘ownership’ of the new machine, ensuring maximum productivity.
“It is exciting times and the team at Rawcliffe Bridge can see the shape of the business change already,” concludes Moss. “Sharing of technical expertise and using best in class equipment, with top level engineers and operators is allowing us to roll out new, improved packaging designs. We are excited by what this new Koenig & Bauer Celmacch line will offer Cepac Group.”