In late 2015, the Kelley’s embarked on a massive project that would see the third generation family business move from its previous facility to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility a few miles down the road. The brothers used the backdrop of SuperCorrExpo, being held for the first time in Orlando, FL in late September 2016, as the opportunity to unveil an expansive investment program. The new factory houses a five color Göpfert Evolution rotary die-cutter, a Bobst Expertfold gluer, a Bobst Visioncut PR die-cutter, an HP Scitex 15000 HDR digital press and complete materials handling system from ACS.
“It was a pretty hectic period, but we got through it without letting down any customers or missing a delivery,” recounts John Kelley, President of Dusobox. “We had embarked on the largest single investment in the company’s history, committing almost $10 million to the project. But it has been well worth it, as we easily passed $25 million in sales last year and the signs for this year are that we will surpass that mark.”
“The feedback from customers during late 2016 and early 2017 was really positive,” explains Richard Kelley, VP Sales. “Our previous facility was not the prettiest place to visit, so we tended not to bring customers to the plant to have meetings. Now, we have a really impressive set up and we bring customers to the site all the time – every single customer that comes in gives glowing feedback.”
Not resting on their laurels, the Kelley family has been busy the last few months, again adding new equipment and processes to their business. Committing an additional $5 million for equipment and software has now positioned the company for a rapid growth in sales, with excellent ROI.
The second round of investment has seen delivery of a world-wide first as well as a North American first. “Specialty gluing has been central to our production process,” says John. “We had moved an older gluer to the new site back in 2016, but we knew it was reaching the end of its useful life, so we went to market to see how we could bolster our gluing department. After a lot of research and intensive discussions, we opted for the Bahmüller Turbox XL, which is the first of its type anywhere in the world.”
Bahmüller’s latest generation specialty folder gluer, the Turbox XL, is a 3.2m (126”) wide machine. It features nearly every option one can think of, including advanced quality inspection systems that monitor glue, cold glue as well as hotmelt and the folding accuracy. Boxes that fall outside of pre-set standards are automatically ejected at full machine speed and deducted from the total production count.
“Our business is all about being able to serve our customers’ demand for top quality. We produce boxes for food, cosmetics, as well as shippers that are used by online retailers”, says John. “Regardless of who the customer is, the demand is shifting to 100% quality inspected boxes.”
In addition, the Turbox XL is also highly advanced in terms of automated set-up features, allowing for short change-over times. It runs minimal box sizes, which are usually only found in folding carton operations, right up to 3.2m (126”) wide. It handles anything from light weight folding carton stock to heavy doublewall corrugated. An inline SMB banding system has been chosen, which applies a wider than usual band – 12mm in width – to ensure there is no damage to the box edges on the top and bottom of the bundle.
“The machine also features the latest Enpro system for applying tear strip and silicon tape at high- speed, used by nearly every e-commerce business that we do work for,” says Richard. “We see huge opportunities for the e-commerce market, as consumer shopping preference increasingly favor online shopping.”
“The Turbox XL has really been developed for the American market,” states Ulrich Wolz, Managing Director, Bahmüller GmbH. “The American market has a different demand to that in Europe, specifically having the ability to run from very small boxes right through to large format displays on the same machine. With no size limitation on this machine, Dusobox can potentially consolidate all its gluing requirements onto this one machine in the future, thanks to the high output and fast set-up times.”
Specifically for e-commerce boxes, the new machine is equipped with the latest quality inspection system, Diagonal Fold Supervision and in combination with the Unique Eject ejection system, ensures zero defect delivery.
“Early on, we realized that all this investment in new equipment also required a professional approach to maintenance, reliability, and knowledge management,” says John. “When you invest millions of dollars in advanced technology, you also need to ensure that the assets are managed so that they will perform as intended. This requires a business system approach that not just supports preventive maintenance tasks and parts management, but more importantly provides the tools to support reliability engineering efforts to minimize breakdowns; and if a breakdown occurs, quickly recover and get back into operation. The later aspect requires well-managed knowledge management.”
At Dusobox nearly every manual, drawing and parts list for the machine centers are fully digitized, including operating manuals and training videos taken during the installation process. “With the click of a mouse, we can interrogate the system, find parts, search for operational and maintenance tasks, as well as advanced help functions, from any authorized online-connected device in the company,” explains Richard. “Our maintenance team can concentrate on executing work orders as opposed to searching for information. Within one year of using Reissco’s system, our breakdown maintenance has been below 3% – an incredible achievement with a short period of time. We now can be confident the knowledge learned is documented and owned by Dusobox.”
Color is key
As with many converters around the world, Dusobox is seeing a significant growth in the amount of e-commerce work it is producing. “Although e-commerce currently represents less than 10% of our business, we are seeing rapid growth in this sector,” says Richard. “We are producing some nice work on the Göpfert, effectively producing the boxes inside out, so the print is on the inside of the box for the ultimate in ‘unboxing experience’.”
But it is not just about high quality graphics, color consistency is critical for Dusobox. “We are now a G7 Master accredited, meaning our customers have complete assurance that color will be consistent on every box, regardless of print process,” says John. “We offer litho-lam, high quality flexo post print and of course digital – and with G7, we put color management at the heart of our offering.”
“Thanks to the diverse range of print processes we run, our customers know that they will get their packaging requirements printed with the most economical method,” adds Richard.
When the company installed its HP Scitex 15000 multi-pass digital press, they took the decision to create a digital ‘cell’ – something that is being actively used as a showcase. “We have fitted out a 2,500 sq ft print experience center, where we show printed samples in each of the print processes,” continues John. “Here, we can show customers not only the print results by process, but we have also fitted out some retail shelving, so they can see how a finished box would look in the store.”
Dusobox has certainly been on the leading edge, when it comes to digital print applications. “We were selling digital print before we even had a digital press,” explains Richard. “We could see the importance digital held for our customers, so we would buy in the work and built the demand. Once we hit a critical mass, we then installed the HP Scitex 15000. That was the beginning of the digital journey.”
Dusobox has been an active participant in the HP Corrugated Packaging Advisory Council – CPAC. “I was invited to join a team of boxmakers from all over the world, to help shape the development of the PageWide C500 industrial press,” comments John. “For us, the C500 is a real game changer and the print quality is comparable to litho. The fact it runs food compliant water based inks is obviously a huge benefit for us and is something our customers are happy about.”
“Our Director of Pre-press and Workflow, Roland Greene and I visited Netanya in Israel to see the press complete its final inspection, prior to disassembly and containerization in late June,” confirms John. “The build quality is good and we are excited about what this press will do for us once it is commissioned in early December. Our print trials yielded some excellent results.”
Software and workflow
But ultimately, a press is just a press – the critical component is the workflow and software solution. “We have always said that the press is the easier part of the equation,” says John. “The hard part is tying it all together, from the design department through to despatch. We knew that prior to installing the high speed digital press, we needed to invest in a proven MIS and scheduling system.”
Dusobox turned to Kiwiplan for this solution. “We had been running a legacy HRMS system for years and we had managed to put a band-aid on it to keep it running,” recounts Richard. “Moving to the new factory, we knew that the systems would need to be changed and that is when we got into dialog with Kiwiplan.”
“We had always discounted Kiwiplan, because we thought they were only really ideal for large integrated or multi-site companies, but when they announced they were developing a Sheet Plant solution, we realized that it would be ideal for us. On 1st August, we rolled out the complete ESP Sheet Plant Solution, which has all the required digital links for C500,” says John.
“We have worked hard with HP over the last two years or so, creating the links required to interface their PageWide presses – both pre-print and post-print – into our MIS solution,” explains Ryan Brown, Account Executive, Kiwiplan. “With the digital link, users can download orders direct to the machine and automatically retrieve feedback. Also, the scheduling module allows users to handle multiple orders on a single sheet, as well as having the ability to create product designs without tooling and still report on knock-out waste, ink consumption and more. We are delighted to have partnered with Dusobox and HP on this, the first C500 installation in North America. The ESP Sheet Plant Solution, with Digital Link, is now an endorsed product within the HP One Package end-to-end software solution.”
The addition of digital print has certainly opened new doors for Dusobox. “We can’t get customers through the door fast enough, to witness the power of digital print,” jokes Richard. “We invite brand owners and their design agencies to visit and take a photo of them as they walk in the door. We then take them on a tour, during which time, our design department creates a design mock up, RIP the file and then send it to the Scitex 15000 press, so that by the time we get to the Print Experience area, the visitors are greeted with a full size digitally printed rendering of themselves – it blows them away!”
The digital ‘cell’ at Dusobox has grown so fast, it needed some upgrades to handle the pressure of the workload. “We are running two Kongsberg C64 digital cutting tables to process the work coming off the Scitex 15000,” explains Richard. “We are about to install the upgraded upward facing camera system to further enhance efficiency on the cutters, both of which are equipped with iCut, part of Esko’s automation engine.”
The design department has nine skilled structural and graphical designers, an area of the business that continues to expand. “Creativity is key to our success,” concludes John. “We are equipped with some of the best machinery and software systems available today, but ultimately, the strength of Dusobox lies in its people and its relationships with its customers across the country.”