Zumbiel sees gains in profitability with Packaging Productivity Suite

As a large independent paperboard packaging company in the U.S., Zumbiel remains a family-owned business and provides a wide range of innovative packaging solutions to customers in the beverage, food, automotive, pharmaceutical, and general consumer product markets.

With a focus on adaptability and diversification critical to another 180 years of success, Zumbiel boasts a full complement of printing and converting technology, including a brand-new HP PageWide T470S digital press. The PageWide technology will enhance Zumbiel’s production agility and allow faster speed-to-market while economically producing variable data content for high-volume folding carton customers

The HP T470S PageWide digital press.

Barbara Powell, Director of IT, Zumbiel, comments, “I am proud of our team and the work we do here. When I came on board seven years ago, I wanted to develop a robust, adaptable, scalable IT infrastructure to accommodate the growth and diversification of our products.”

Powell explains that a significant amount of work went into optimising Zumbiel’s existing infrastructure prior to engaging with a systems partner that could help it take the next step up.

“We needed a system that was self-contained – and just by the way it was designed, would have the right information,” says Powell. “It needed to include that business intelligence we were looking for natively, and ePS provided us with exactly what we needed. Following the successful integration of ePS’ Radius ERP packaging software and support modules, we went live at the end of 2023.”

Right on the mark

Processing 100 jobs per week on average with annual sales over $160m, Zumbiel has invested in the Radius™ Enterprise Resource Planning solution (ERP), with additional industry-enabling point solutions including:

  • ePS PrintFlow™ intelligent rules-based scheduling optimises production flow, reducing stoppages and increasing productivity. It achieves this by intelligently optimizing job sequencing and synchronising production as it considers thousands of constraints that affect every step of the manufacturing workflow;
  • ePS’ Business Intelligence™ provides analytical reporting and allows deep visibility into operations and empowers decision makers to drive profitability and efficiency throughout the enterprise;
  • ePS Auto-Count 4D™ Shop-floor data collection enables real-time shop floor data collection, performance-monitoring of each machine, and a web-based, holistic view of production floor activity;
  • ePS eFlow Automator and new RESTful-API capabilities allow process automation to improve productivity while reducing errors and costs.

Powell continues, “Coming in with fresh eyes, I could see there were lots and lots of opportunities for improvements, efficiency gains, and transparency in our production process. But we would never achieve that on the platform we used for 25 years. It had a spiderweb of third-party systems attached, creating wasted time through manual tasks.”

The ePS Radius solution was configured to address Zumbiel’s inefficiencies creating increased team cohesion while reducing duplication of effort and manual touchpoints, which they expect will reduce lead times significantly. The technology also allows the executive leadership to have more transparency in data and information flow allowing them to make better informed decisions.

“We were excited about it coming online and realising this ambition. We had two situations we were looking to resolve with Radius,” says Powell. “One was with our third-party systems; we struggled to get comprehensive and accurate reporting across all systems.

“We also spent a lot of time ensuring all the systems carry the same data, and if not – trying to figure out why and working out fixes for it. This effort was unnecessary; we required an integrated fit for purpose solution supporting our work in process, finished goods, and sales and production. ePS provided us with the best end to end system specifically for folding carton production and have our full confidence.”

Conquering complexity

Zumbiel faced an additional challenge in achieving peak efficiency. Previously, the company had to manually schedule all the jobs for each machine centre daily. Additionally, the team believed that with the product complexity Zumbiel caters to, it would have been impossible to replicate this with an automated scheduling system.“ePS Radius and its wider software module infrastructure can handle that complexity, which is huge for us,” says Powell.

She also offers specific praise for Auto-Count 4D, explaining, “From a shop floor perspective, it will be the most impactful.” ePS’ Auto-Count 4D delivers electronic job tickets, artwork proofs, and CAD drawings directly to machine operators and drives data accuracy by using sensor-based direct machine monitoring. ePS’ Business Intelligence helps Zumbiel’s senior leadership team access and interact with the data that underpins the reporting so they can identify trends and implement more profitable strategies.

Zumbiel identified ePS’ web-based User Interface, packaging industry-specific Roadmap, and integration and business workflow-enabling ePS Automator tool as ‘deciding factors’ in their investment decision.

Powell continues, “We needed to integrate with our CAD system, and ePS had already developed those tools. Overall, the forecast return on investment was attractive – mainly focused on increasing productivity on the production floor. ePS sought to understand our business during the project’s discovery phase – you shouldn’t be telling us how we should be running our business to suit your software. A good technology partner seeks to understand how and why we run our business and then seeks to help improve it. That interaction is significant, and that is what ePS does for us.”

Powell concludes, “In a world where you have to do more with less, reducing touchpoints and being able to pack productivity into every square inch of floor space, the software platform ePS Radius provides delivers ROI, true data transparency, significantly increased operational efficiency and genuinely provides you with a competitive edge.”

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