The Dorchester company has replaced an 18-year-old Stitchmaster 100 with an iSaddle 2 with the automation to make ready in minutes rather than the extended period needed to set the old machine, to fold and load the hoppers.
Managing director Mark Downey says that even with runs of 6,000 to 7,000 the Duplo machine will be faster because of this. “For us the average run is 3,000 and even that is falling.” he says. “Today it’s all about makeready time.”
As run lengths continue to fall, the number of jobs is increasing sharply putting more pressure on makeready times. The iSaddle 2 is fed from tower collators rather than folded sections, a key time saving measure that helps accelerate the flow of jobs.
The company has used Duplo products for 10-12 years, says Downey and over that time has seen how the engineering and build has strengthened. “Today they are solid pieces of equipment,” he adds. “Our experience with the latest machine so far are promising.”
The U shaped layout will mean that stitching is now a one operator job, freeing up resources for other work. Those resources include space that is needed as the company increases the volumes of cartons that it produces. Downey reckons that 55% of its £2.5 million turnover comes from packaging.
“We are able to move people around and there is virtually no makeready thanks to the technology on the system. We can be running inside four minutes which means we can lift a long job for a smaller urgent job before going back to the original job,” he explains.
This is not the end of the investment in finishing. The space that is being freed up will allow Epic to increase the range of carton finishing options: foiling and embossing are on the cards. It has one of the first Scodix installations in the UK suited to short run jobs.
“And we are looking at rotary die cutting and to bring carton gluing in house, but as the runs are only 5,000 units we will not need a Bobst.
“We are on the way to becoming quite a different printer to that we were five years ago.”
Mark Downey (left) seals the order for the iSaddle 2 at Ipex. The machine was delivered in December and is now ramping up in production, replacing a conventional saddle stitcher. It is part of a revamp of the company's finishing department.