Having continuously supplied corrugated products to a wide range of industries from the automotive to medical and food for over 26 years, Leamington Spa-based The Box Factory has established itself as one of the larger sheet plants in the UK. Generating over £13 million in sales, the company employs 70 people and runs a two shift operation and operates from 120,000 sq ft of manufacturing and storage space.
Established in 1992, the company is owned by Jeff Phillips, Philip Rowberry and Managing Director, Neil Price. “We produce a wide range of corrugated packaging solutions, servicing customers typically within a 100 mile radius,” explains Price. “We have customers within the medical, food, furniture, automotive, clothing and e-commerce sectors and more than 70% of our customers utilise our ‘stock and serve’ facility.”
The company has developed its internal management systems (IMS) to deal with the ever stringent and demanding requirements in today’s ever changing market place. This has been reflected in its successful and ongoing accreditation to ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management), ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management) and full accreditation to OHSAS 18001:2007 (Health & Safety Management). They also have accreditation to the BRC Packaging and Packaging Materials Standard. In-plant cost estimating and scheduling is handled by KM Software’s SPOCS software suite.
Move into cases
Running on a double shift pattern, five days per week, The Box Factory has grown steadily since its formation, but it was a break from the norm in 2010 that really sent sales figures shooting through the roof. “We had set ourselves up as a typical sheet plant, with flexo printer slotters and flat bed die-cutting,” recounts Price. “However, we knew that we needed to expand our production capacity and started to look at the feasibility of adding a casemaker to our converting capabilities. In 2010, we installed a second hand machine that we had found sourced from the USA and we saw a real upturn in business.”
However, the uplift was so significant, within a few years, the owners realised they could do with a larger and faster casemaker. “We were staggered at the impact the casemaker had on our business, so we set about looking for a new model. We knew David Williams and his team at GTS (Europe) really well, so we arranged to go and visit a couple of plants that were running Latitude equipment.”
As the UK and Eire representative of Latitude, GTS (Europe) were able to present a range of options to the team at The Box Factory. “We opted for the first new line in 2014,” continues Price. “We chose a four colour casemaker, complete with Emmepi Prima bundle strapper, Emmepi Group materials handling with Favalessa palletiser. Finished pallet loads are then fed to an Emmepi pallet press nearby.”
But within a couple of years, the Latitude was full. “We had put the line into a stand-alone manufacturing unit,” explains Price. We had figured that if business continued to grow, we would probably need a second line, so we laid out the first line with a view to adding another machine at a later date.” They didn’t have to wait long! “We ordered another PP1230 flexo folder gluer. But this time, only with three colours. We placed the order in late 2016 and took delivery of the machine, again with Emmepi bundle strapper, in the summer of 2017,” says Price.
“We chose similar machines for a specific reason; interchangeability. Having similar machines means we can switch around operators, stereos, formes and even use the same stock of spare parts, without any worries,” explains Price. “The second machine is using a semi-automatic palletiser instead of the fully automatic Favalessa, and that is for a reason – we simply did not have enough space.”
Price continues, “The other thing we really like about the PP1230 from Latitude is that it is just as comfortable running big, bulky boxes as it is smaller format cases. It is a really versatile flexo folder gluer, with very good folding accuracy too.”
The entire project was handled by GTS (Europe), being the agent for both Latitude and Emmepi Group. “The Box Factory is just one of a growing band of UK corrugated box plants running multiple Latitude casemakers,” says David Williams, Managing Director of GTS (Europe) Ltd. “When Neil approached us, we were pretty much given a clean sheet of paper to work with, so the layout of the manufacturing site with the multiple flexo folder gluers, flat bed die-cutter and complete materials handling system and strappers was a great project to work on. The fact they ordered the second line so soon after the first is testament to the hard work of the operators at The Box Factory, as well as the belief and support of the concept from the owners.”
“Being fully committed to improving all aspects of our business we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways of achieving sustained excellence,” concludes Price. “With continued investment in machinery, new technologies, our environment and most importantly our people, we truly believe in continuous improvement to ensure the future growth and development of our business. The Latitude and Emmepi Group project is a good example of this.”