As Weipong commissions the first Venus-1225 flexo folder gluer in Europe, this UK-independent is excited about the prospects ahead.

 

Originally founded by Thomas G Nuttall on Ellesmere St in Hulme in 1914, TG Nuttall Packaging Ltd has grown significantly over the last few years, resulting in the need to invest in new converting equipment.

Nuttall Packaging is owned by two Directors, Michael Whittaker and Chris Bywater, who both hold a 50% shareholding. Whittaker’s Grandfather, Fred Caldwell, took over the business in the 1920s; it was then situated at Talbot Mills, Ellesmere Street, Hulme. In 1935 it was taken over by J F Caldwell on the death of his father. Whittaker and J C Denby then bought the business from their uncle in 1973 and moved to a site at Ayres Road, Old Trafford in 1985. In October 2003, the company relocated to Central Park Estate on Trafford Park and soon after, Denby retired and sold his 50% shareholding to the then General Manager, Chris Bywater.

In March 2013, the company acquired a 39,000 sq ft building in Trafford Park, which was stripped and renovated.

Getting Bigger

After the £1.1m investment in 2013, the company then looked at its capabilities and realised that to continue its growth, it would need to invest in some new equipment, specifically with an eye on enhancing print quality and overall box quality. They set about implementing a £1.5m plan that would see installation of a Solarco short run boxmaker, Avanti materials handling system and a new three colour flexo folder gluer – a Weipong Venus-1225 (or its technical denominator, the WP6-2500 FFG).

The company employs 37 people, working on a single shift basis, five days per week. It is a typical sheet plant in that it produces work for all types of local businesses and industries. It services customers from the north-Midlands up to Cumbria. Over 70% of the board converted is single wall, namely B and E flute. The remaining 30% is doublewall in BC and EB variations.

The company runs a series of converting machines, including a small format casemaker, a Marumatsu flat bed die-cutter, a Baysek C1700 die-cutter, Solarco short run boxmaker, Planet gluer, Sodeme stitcher and the latest addition, the Weipong three colour flexo folder gluer. Plant planning and cost estimating is controlled by the EFI CDM Solutions system and an Avanti materials handling system has been installed to help move around the higher volumes of work being achieved on the new Weipong.

“We realised a few years ago that we needed to upgrade some of our converting machines,” explains Bywater. “We started to look at what was available and a study-tour organised by the UK Sheet Plant Association opened our eyes to what was available. We knew that we wanted to enhance our print capabilities, which would move us from being a traditional zero or one colour supplier to a two and three colour supplier. We also wanted to improve overall box quality for our customers, so a new casemaker was going to achieve our aim with one new line.”

Bywater continues, “We had also started to see that a lot of the sheet feeders were starting to up their game in terms of board quality, by way of lightweighting. Some of our older machines simply were not handling the stronger lightweight board, so we knew we needed a machine that would excel with finer flute, lighter weight board.”

Left to right: Paul Herson (GTS), Chris Bywater, Jimmy Hsiao (Weipong), Michael Whittaker and David Williams (GTS).

A UK First

“We have had a really good relationship with GTS (Europe) Ltd for some time now,” says Whittaker. “Over the years, they have been a primary point of contact in terms of supplying and servicing the Solarco and Sodeme equipment. Chris started a dialogue with David Williams and Paul Herson about the need for a new casemaker and that is when we were introduced to Jimmy Hsiao and the team at Weipong Machinery. We placed the order in December 2018.”

The Venus-1225 is an open-close style of casemaker. The machine at Nuttall is a three colour, top printing machine, with full vacuum transfer and a full waste removal section, fitted with air blower to help ensure waste after the die-cut section is not transferred through the folder gluer section. It has full computer touch screen for automatic set-up and handles sheets with a maximum size of 2500 x 1200mm (or 1500mm with skip feed). Minimum sheet length is 350mm and maximum print area is 1200 x 2350mm. The machine runs smoothly at 12,000 sph.

“This new casemaker is a real game changer for small to medium size sheet plants who need a machine to fit a tighter budget,” says David Williams, Managing Director of GTS (Europe) Ltd. “We have been impressed with the speed of response to technical questions and suggestions from Weipong and we feel this is an excellent machine in terms of value for money. The engineering is first class, with sturdy and robust construction. The service support is also really good. We are happy to be working with Weipong as their agent in UK and parts of Europe now.”

Big Move

“We went to China to look at the latest equipment being made by Weipong and were impressed with the robust build quality,” adds Bywater. “We took Jason McEwan of JM Corr, who acted as a technical adviser for us on the project. He has been a really good addition to our team during the whole installation as well and we felt that the start-up and training from the Weipong team has been excellent.”

Bywater concludes, “Having direct access to Jimmy Hsiao was ultimately the reason we went with a machine that had no other references in Europe. A gamble possibly, but what we have seen in the first few months of production has been spot on.”