Manor Packaging is based in Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, about 140km north of London. It is part of the Fencor Packaging Group, which is an independent, owner-managed packaging company that specialises in the design and manufacture of bespoke corrugated packaging and display solutions. By retaining control over the entire packaging production process, the companies within the Group can react quickly and accurately to meet various customer needs. Easypack/POP Displays Group is another company operating under the Fencor umbrella – this is the POS display specialist, while Manor Packaging focusses on the supply of more traditional corrugated packaging. Fencor Packaging Group is also a shareholder in CorrBoard UK Ltd, the co-operative sheet feeder facility based in Scunthorpe; this helps secure raw material supply to both Manor Packaging ad Easypack. Today, the Group employs 140 people.
This dynamic organisation has retained agility, thanks to a team ethos of development and drive. Included in this has been the ambitious investment program that has been running since 2013. During this time, £10m has been targeted at improving capabilities, including equipment and an additional 51,000 sq ft of warehousing space.
“With the ability to make quick decisions, we remain ready to invest in any area which enables us to provide a better service to our customers,” explains Group Managing Director, David Orr. “We supply a wide range of businesses with our display and packaging solutions, including medical, logistics, wholesaler and also garden centres and horticultural businesses. But what singles us out compared to some others is our service levels, which are our key priority and define much of our ethos.”
“It was really our Sales Director, Tony Clifton, who drove the idea of buying a new casemaker,” continues Orr. “We had an existing casemaker that was running well, but was probably getting to its highest levels of performance and that simply wasn’t enough for Tony and the sales team. So we started looking at options in the market; we wanted a machine that could be set while running as well as a machine that offered good print quality and excellent folding/gluing capabilities. Although Bobst did not have an 8.20 Discovery installed in the UK, we visited several installations in Europe and were impressed with the overall package of service, support and decent return on investment. We took the big step and ordered the machine in late 2019.”
“We sat down with Bobst and analysed our work mix,” adds Graham Campbell, Group Operations Director. “With a machine like this, that is capable of 18,000 sheets per hour, it is a hungry animal and well suited to long runs, but due to its quick-set capabilities, we were able to justify the investment for our work mix of much shorter run lengths.”
The installation of FFG 8.20 Discovery at Manor Packaging is the first of its kind in the UK. The next-generation flexo folder-gluer from Bobst brings flexibility and productivity to the production line, capable of processing up to 18,000 boxes per hr (up to 1050 x 2180mm) across a wide range of corrugated flute types.
Designed to be intuitive and bring additional value to the supply chain, the 8.20 Discovery can be controlled with as few as two operators and is capable of make-ready times of just two minutes. The machine is noted for consistent high production speed, quality and accuracy, combined with a user-friendly interface and Wi-Fi connected.
It also features ‘Easy drive’ MPC4, a man-machine interface, which allows for full control of the machine, with the operator setting the box on the screen. Manor Packaging also benefit from Bobst’s Preventive Maintenance Program MMPC, for increased reliability and improved maintenance of the new line.
The folder-gluer section benefits from several turnkey features that make it a flexible and reliable workhorse, including a Rapidset flexo print system, top rotary die-cutter with optional Posilock system and an automated, robust new generation slotter.
Available with two to four modular Rapidset flexo printing units, which allow setting on the run, the 8.20 Discovery also boasts a fully automated multi-T folding section that uses suction belts with two rows of holes to ensure accurate box transfer. The machine at Manor is also with Pamarco anilox rolls and Bobst’s own chambered doctor blades, achieving high levels of print reproduction. Precise guiding guarantees high folding quality, while gauged and motorised rollers ensure that folds stay firm, while a top rotary die-cut unit allows for handle, vent hole, flap or V-slot cutting.
“The overall handling of the project, from start to finish, has been excellent,” states Campbell. “We chose Bobst because we wanted a supplier who could provide high levels of service and support, as well as having manpower dedicated in a UK office. This is a big investment for us and we really felt comfortable with the project management right from the start. The Bobst project manager and lead technician helped us with the entire planning phase, which meant when the first crates arrived on 20th February, the machine was assembled and running within a matter of weeks — just as the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown. For most suppliers, this would have resulted in the training going on hold. Instead, the lead technician returned to Lyon in France and Bobst UK & Ireland sent us one of their installation engineers who then took over the training of our operators. It really was first class service.”
Stuart Alvey-Taylor, BU Sheet Fed Sales Manager at Bobst UK & Ireland, said, “We are delighted to work with Manor Packaging to deliver the first 8.20 Discovery machine in the UK. The installation and machine training took place just as the Covid-19 outbreak was taking hold. Despite the challenges this presented, we were committed to ensuring we put everything in place for Manor Packaging so that it could meet the needs of customers.”
He continued, “As part of a programme of continuous investment by Fencor Packaging Group, Manor Packaging was looking for an efficient machine to keep pace with the evolving needs of their customers. We are thrilled that the machine has been integrated so easily into the workflow and the results have been outstanding – in one of the first test runs, we were able to see it run at its maximum speed of 18,000 boxes per hour which is just fantastic for Manor Packaging, particularly during a time of peak demand.”
Orr concludes, “Although it is still early days, there is one early, serendipitous outcome of the installation of the 8.20 Discovery. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have experienced some very concentrated demand – many customers have stopped buying, but demand from those who are continuing to deliver their products into hospitals, supermarkets and the home via on-line deliveries has shot up and order volumes have, in some cases, been very large. Without the Discovery 8.20’s capabilities, we would have found it difficult to meet this surge in demand. With it and with the support of our operators, we have coped pretty well.”