Digital cutting table for UK-based corrugated sheet plant
Since it was established more than 20 years ago, Smart Packaging Ltd has been on a growth trajectory that has culminated in a move to a new factory, investment in a new casemaker and now the arrival of a new digital cutter from AG/CAD.
The Yate based company has a philosophy of continuous investment to streamline production and enhance customer service. With production runs ranging from a few hundred to 50,000 plus, a team of sales representatives continually generate new business. The company had been running a sample table supplied by AG/CAD for over 15 years. However, when the machine started to have age-related issues, Smart took the opportunity to review the latest available options. Following an extensive review of the marketplace, the company opted for the DYSS X5-1625.
Discussing the investment, Head of Design and Production at Smart Packaging, Jason Smithers says, “We are making anything from 100 to 150 samples a week for new and existing customers, so it is imperative to ensure our reliability, quality and speed of sample turnaround is maintained. By replacing an ageing cutting table, we addressed the issue before it really ever arose.”
The new DYSS X5-1625 has provided so much more, as Smithers continues, “The new DYSS has a host of features that have made many of my daily tasks more efficient. This goes beyond the productivity increase derived from the speed of new table. The benefits encroach on every aspect of the sample design and the production process.”
Smithers is the conduit between the sales team, the office and the shop floor and his efficiency has been greatly enhanced by the new X5. “The old table would be running almost constantly trying to keep pace with the sample requirements of our sales team or it would be manufacturing small batches for transit tests. With the same demand levels, the X5 is probably only running at around 30% of its potential – giving us a huge capacity gain. The turnaround time has also been improved.”
“The previous sample table didn’t have its own dedicated full CAD software to control the hardware. We had the Kasemake design software in the office for designing and creating samples but the sample table was running on reduced functionality control software only capable of running existing jobs and operating the machine to pre-determined parameters. This meant that if I wanted to undertake small edits or alterations to a job, I would have to go to the design office and download them to the sample table, rather than have the flexibility to make changes directly at the machine.
“Not only does the new X5 cutter have the complete design software incorporated, the machine is also controlled by its own software that runs in synergy with Kasemake. This allows me to go beyond design edits at the machine. I also have full control of the hardware within the cutting table. For example, I can program the bed suction levels by zones if necessary and I have full control of the cutting head, tools and the respective settings for the different materials we process.”
This flexibility enables Smithers to utilise the benefits of the new DYSS. Nowhere is this more apparent than the setting of the tools on the T-Head dual-tool configured machine. “The X5 has an integral automatic tool calibration system that enables it to calibrate each tool to a precision level of 0.001mm, far beyond that of the previous machine which had to be done manually. We can define individual tool parameters to suit the board we are cutting. The parametric, resizable templates have the entire FEFCO library, so we can rapidly create a sample or prototype, either from the office or at the machine.”
From a hardware perspective, the configuration of the X5 cutting head permits rapid tool changeovers. “With the previous table, tool changes could be laborious and time consuming,” says Smithers. “You only need to press a button, lift out the tool and then drop in the next on the X5. The creasing wheels are even easier to interchange with a quick-clip fitting that enables us to pop wheels in and out in seconds.”
The company now has three licences of Kasemake, with an additional eight licences of Kaseadmin. “With the KASEADMIN package, our sales team can easily access the FEFCO library to demonstrate and discuss options with customers. The FEFCO parametrics within the software streamlines our process from initial communication to sample production. We can turn an enquiry into a physical sample within a matter of hours,” adds Smithers.
With a trade desk that is operated as a sales point for ‘drop-in’ enquiries, short-run orders can be turned around at speed. “We can rapidly determine the size and style of a package from the FEFCO library and generate a sample in minutes. With full production runs of 5,000+ boxes for example, the entire process from design to sample and through to production can be undertaken in as little as five days. Print and artwork approval can add additional days to the process, but having the Kasemake suite is helping us to reduce lead-times here also.”
Smart Packaging is recognising the quality and innovation built into the software and the technological advancements of the X5. “The combination of the innovations integrated into the software and how they complement the DYSS are factors we didn't previously have the benefit of. An example of this is the ‘overcut’ compensation that is available in the software for DYSS machines. This automatically factors in the width of the blades and the board flute to ensure minimal blade overcut,” says Smithers.
One area that the overcut compensation is benefitting Smart is with the reduction of waste. Smithers concludes, “The precision of the travelling axes of the machine is much improved upon the previous machine. Add the overcut compensation and the precision automatic calibration of the tools and the benefit can be identified in waste reduction. Previously, we could nest a number of samples on the same board, but the spacing would have to be considerable to allow for precision deviations. If there was only a 5mm edge allowance, I would be sceptical about whether we could keep parallelism and not waste the sample. Now, we can nest more samples on each sheet and we have complete confidence in the precision of the new DYSS. This has reduced waste board significantly.”