10 March 2019 Finishing

Kern shifts into packaging on demand

Swiss mailing specialist Kern has taken a strategic turn towards the rapidly growing e-commmerce marketing with a solution for tailored boxes.

Kern has drawn a line under its post press equipment division to focus on a new generation of packaging machines designed to provide bespoke wrapping for e-commerce packs.

As a result, the company is no longer in competition with fellow Swiss company Hunkeler and was therefore allowed to participate in the Hunkeler Innovation Days. “A few years ago we decided to develop our own post press equipment, but we have now decided that based on our strategic direction we would leave that business and would enter a cooperation with Hunkeler,” says Stephan Zaugg.

“We are now starting to work in the packaging field and have a focus on new and future technologies.”

The two companies are just an hour apart by road and have links that extend back to the founding of Kern. In many countries the two already share distribution agreements. “We have decided to help each other in a very competitive market,” he says.

While the Kern PackOnTime project represents the future, the company is continuing to develop in the existing inserting lines. In Lucerne the company showed the latest 3800 high speed machine, capable of handling all envelope sizes and intended for long run work, running at 22,000 inserts an hour from ten inserting stations. The paper path is straight which also keeps manual intervention down.

It bristles with automation, so that it requires very few manual adjustments. “Everything else is adjusted automatically. We think you should only do manually where we believe that it’s best for a human to make certain fine adjustments,” says Zaugg.

Hunkeler was the debut for the machine which will now be on a testing programme before being launched commercially in 2020.

Ahead of that the first Kern PackOnTime machine is due to reach the market in the summer. “We are at the final stage of bringing the machine to market. The idea is to make the pack fit tightly around the product being wrapped to eliminate unnecessary in transportation,” he says. The first machine, the Multipack MI 750 will wrap 750 items an hour. Each can be from 100x150x30mm to a maximum of 600x400x300mm.

Items are placed on a conveyor which measures the size of box needed. The individual box is created from flat sheets of corrugated board on the fly, accepts the inserts, is closed and an address label attached.

“Packaging is a new business field with different customers for Kern. But direct mail inserting is still our core market.”

By Gareth Ward

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Kern returned to participate in the Hunkeler Innovation Days after withdrawing from the supply of post press equipment. The company has launched a new inserting line and announced plans for packaging innovation.

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