New TCY four-colour flexo folder gluer is the latest milestone for Playford Packaging.
There has always been a place for a volume oriented sheet plant to compete with larger integrated suppliers, if only by providing a better service. However, in recent years, the market has changed and while there is still a market for large quantities of simple 0201 boxes, the most successful large sheet plants are also now well-equipped to compete in the low volume, high quality print, SRP sector. Playford Packaging has continued to move with the times and has always been ready to make the right investments in line with market trends. “We've always had a major presence in the food packaging sector and we were one of the first secondary packaging manufacturers to gain BRC/IOP accreditation,” explains Roy Morris, Managing Director. “Obviously there has been a shift to more and more shelf ready and retail ready packaging - three-colour print is now commonplace, but the ability to produce four-colour is a bonus. That is still where our market is and that is why we bought the new TCY. The market remains buoyant, but the more established UK supermarkets have had to cope with increasing competition from the two well-known major Continental newcomers, which means that there is more pressure on their suppliers to reduce costs. Packaging and distribution is a major element in those costs, but we are well-equipped to help the packer-fillers to stay competitive.”
The new 2500 x 1000mm TCY 5PA-FGT flexo folder gluer, installed by TCY’s exclusive agent ID Machinery in April, includes a rotary die-cut section and has the benefit of full touch screen computer setting, with a 30,000 job memory. The machine, with a maximum speed of 16,800 boxes per hour, also features a SUN lead edge feeder ensuring accurate feeding and also has vacuum transfer. Each of the four printing sections is equipped with laser engraved ceramic anilox rolls, and printing registration is highly accurate. The slotter-creaser section has dual slotting shafts and separate shafts for pre-creasing and creasing to ensure adequate creasing. The servo driven folder gluer allows for touch-screen belt speed adjustment and there is a top loading counter ejector.
Commercial Director, Richard Morris, outlines some of the advantages that the new machine brings, “There are new opportunities for us with existing customers, with our ability to produce even better quality three and four colour print and produce it very efficiently, no matter what the quantity. There is now scope for us to compete in areas where there are higher margins. We are still competitive in the basic high volume case work, but our average run length is now around 4,500 boxes.”
Since the company commenced trading in 1980 from its 4,500 sq ft Wrexham birthplace, Playford Packaging has undergone two changes of premises, now occupying 80,000 sq ft and over seven acres. Partners Roy Morris and Carol Demmer took over the ailing business from the Playford family in 1984 and soon afterwards identified the opportunity for a volume producer that could pay more attention to service than some of the larger companies were able to manage at that time. Attention to both service and flexibility paid off, aided by the ready availability of supply from the many independent UK sheet feeders plying their trade at that time. Over the years there has always been a continued emphasis on the ability to produce large quantities, with the progressive installation of more and more case-making capacity. Carol Demmer has recently begun to take a back seat, but the fundamental values of the business remain unchanged.
In addition to supplying and installing the new TCY, ID Machinery has highlighted its engineering versatility by moving all of Playford's casemakers into one area of the factory, greatly streamlining the movement of raw materials through to finished goods. ID Machinery is one of the oldest dealers in used and rebuilt corrugated machinery, as Sales Director John Brasier confirms. “ID is privately owned and was originally set up in 1971, becoming a limited company in January 1978. It enjoys a reputation in the industry for efficient and professional service, which we intend to maintain and build upon. We moved to a purpose built 20,000 sq ft factory in Milton Keynes in 1985, where we have a 20 tonne overhead crane for loading and unloading and where we employ 20 people with a comprehensive corrugated industry skill-base. As well as being a supplier of new corrugated equipment, we estimate that we hold the largest stock of used machinery in the world. We have been working with TCY since 1981 and have supplied more than 200 of their machines, covering many areas including the UK, Europe, Kuwait and South Africa, and we have helped TCY to establish its brand in America, which is now supported by TCY North America. Other new machinery we supply includes Godswill Stitcher/gluers, Transpak strappers and Jingou boxmakers. In 2011, we established a new business called ID Europe, close to Oporto in Portugal, to assist with rebuilding and to develop the Iberian, South American and African market. Recently, the decision was taken to move all of the rebuilding work to Portugal and to concentrate the UK operation on new machinery installation and support. With the level of specialised engineers and electricians we employ, we also now offer breakdown assistance for all machinery, factory moves and electrical machine upgrades and guarding.” As long ago as 1982, ID began its close relationship with TCY, whose own history began in 1958 when it commenced the manufacture of manual stitchers in a modest 1,300 sq feet factory in Taipei City, Taiwan. TCY now operates from a 325,000 sq ft factory and has a well-recognised presence at major corrugated expos and exhibitions throughout the World.
Playford Packaging has plans for still more expansion, including a new office block. Intriguingly, there are also plans for a dedicated short-run manufacturing area, almost echoing the 'Mom and Pop' origins of this thriving North Wales business. Roy Morris concludes, “ID Machinery has helped us enormously over the years and the new TCY, coupled with the comprehensive changes to the layout of our site has opened up many new opportunities for us in a changing market.”