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Premier Packaging Ups Capacity With New Latitude Machinery Investment

Article first published in the April 2020 issue of Board Converting News

About Premier Packaging

Premier Packaging began in 1994 in Louisville, Kentucky, as a single sheet plant. Increasing demand from the Indianapolis/Chicago region led the company to open its new facility in Indianapolis in 2016. From an order-quantity standpoint, the Indianapolis plant is far from the average sheet plant–its average order quantity is around 5,500 pieces,where most sheet plants are averaging orders of around 1,000 or 1,500 pieces. In the 2018 peak season between October to December, the company was producing boxes using a 50-inch Serenco, which was running seven days a week, 24 hours per day in Indianapolis. The staff was running shifts around the clock: two 10-hour shifts during the week and two 12-hour shifts on the weekends.

The ability to manufacture inside/outside print boxes has allowed Premier Packaging to meet the needs of the massive e-commerce market.

In order to reduce labor costs and the amount of overtime, and to meet the growing volume demand, Premier Packaging was in need of a machine that could produce very big truckload quantities for high capacity customers. Concurrently, they also required a machine capable of quick changeovers, as they field orders as small as 100 pieces that meet the needs of local mom-and-pop businesses as well. “We produce pretty much everything, from a full die-cut all the way up to inside/outside print boxes, regular slotted carton (RSC) boxes, full overlap (FOL) boxes, and beyond,” says Bryan Fitch, General Manager of Premier Packaging’s Indianapolis facility. “When we’re not in our peak season, we need to be able to change order to order so we can stay cost-competitive in the corrugated industry.”

An Investment in LMC

“We needed to invest in machinery in order to grow and keep our operating expenses down, and after installing our new Latitude Machinery Corporation (LMC) investment, the difference was immediate,” says Fitch. The Indianapolis facility was outfitted with a 3-color Latitude Flexo Folder Gluer PP1230. The increase in output since the changeover has been noticeable for the management of the facility and for the bottom line of the organization. Premier Packaging is able to run 37 to 38 million square-feet per month, while simultaneously decreasing the shifts they had been running. In the peak season of October through December of 2019, following the installation of the new LMC machine, the Indianapolis facility produced 25 percent more footage of corrugated while staffing only two weekday shifts.

“The Latitude machine has definitely helped our bottom line and has opened up capacity for us,” says Fitch. “In the past, a lot of items might have caused us to raise our inventory levels through peak season. But because of the speeds of the machine, the capacity it has and the quick turnaround time on setups, we are now able to get a lot more done in the same amount of time.”

The ecommerce industry is growing at 15 percent per year in North America–Amazon alone has more than 250,000 staffers in 110 facilities in North America alone. Premier Packaging’s investment in the Latitude machine helped them to meet the current needs of the e-commerce market while planning for future growth in this rapidly expanding vertical.

Support From SUN Automation

The installation of the new Latitude machine began in late August of 2019 with the goal of an October 1 start date. Because of the output demands of peak season for Premier Packaging, they needed to start off with a full understanding of the machinery so that they could run at maximum capacity and not compromise margin and output. Premier Packaging staff training with the SUN Automation Group and Latitude experts began early in the process, with the goal of maximum efficiency and profitability. Starting October 1, the machine was able to operate at top speed. This was a major factor in their record-setting three-month window during peak season in 2019.

Earlier in 2019, SUN Automation became the exclusive representative in North America and Central America for LMC., providing machinery, parts and support. LMC is a world-class manufacturer of corrugated converting equipment, specializing in flexo folder gluers and rotary diecutters. Known for its reliability, Latitude equipment is a global success with machine sizes ranging from mini to jumbo. The Taiwan-based company has partnered with SUN Automation to offer new and existing North and Central American customers like Premier Packaging the trusted service, support of a North-American based industry leader.

The intuitive Latitude machines are easy for the staff of Premier Packaging to use when setting up orders. And with the technology available with modern machines from Latitude, technicians are able to remotely access the machines to help troubleshoot in real time without always having to send a technician to the facility or explain solutions remotely. “The machine is very easily operated and self-explanatory. All of the buttons are self-explanatory–the dimensions and how to move the machine around are very simple,” says Dennis Wood, Director of Manufacturing at Premier Packaging. “Our crews picked up on the machine very well. And the communication with SUN Automation Group works very well. SUN has been very responsive–we have a 24-hour hotline to call if there are issues.”

The key to keeping the machine running at maximum efficiency is keeping it clean. The fixed-frame architecture of the Latitude machine, as well as the ease of opening up the machine for service and maintenance, keeps downtime to a minimum. Premier Packaging shuts the machine down for only six hours per week, typically Thursday morning or Thursday night. Timing straddles the shift changeovers, which means that crews from both shifts are able to split the cleaning duties up between them.

Helping Premier Packaging Deliver

Serving a wide range of industries and companies ranging in size from mom and pop to global brands have given Premier Packaging a reputation for quality and dependability. With its new Latitude machine and the training, service, and maintenance support from SUN Automation, Premier now has the tools and the capacity to continue to live up to its name.

 

Watch the customer testimonial video:

Post-Pandemic Advantages of the SUN625 Rotary Die Cutter

Operator shortages, outdated technology and the demand for high quality boxes are all known production challenges that have affected Box Makers for years. However, due to COVID-19 and the multiple ripple effects of the 2020 pandemic, unanticipated complications and increased severity of existing challenges have caused concern for many Corrugated Converters around the world. Now more than ever, facilities need converting technology that places a high priority on operator safety, ease of operations, box perfection, productivity, low cost of ownership, and ease of cleaning. Well, call our engineers clairvoyant because the SUN625 Fixed Frame Vertically Opening Rotary Die Cutter was designed with those exact advantages in mind.

“SUN Automation created the SUN 625 Rotary Die Cutter with the operator in mind – to provide them with easy job set up, reduced maintenance times, comfort of a safe production environment, and the ease of machine operation, all while management benefits from the SUN625’s high production volumes and lower cost of ownership.” – Eric Aulton, SUN Global Product Manager – Rotary Die Cutters

About SUN 625

The SUN625® RDC is not a typical rotary die cutter. It is a fixed frame, vertically opening, flexo printing RDC, capable of feeding, printing, and converting a 125” blank, and engineered for 24/7 production environments. SUN625 is the only fixed frame, vertically opening rotary die cutter on the market. The use of SunTrac vacuum transfer system overhead is the key to the open architecture and clear line of sight within the machine. Unlike traditional split line open/close systems, operators can easily and safely walk in, out, and through the SUN625, providing access to all internal components without disrupting auxiliary equipment. SUN625 features several of SUN’s leading machine components known for their performance and quality:

 

With the increased safety requirements and workforce shortages caused by COVID, the SUN625’s fixed-frame vertically open design is ideal for improving operator safety, production automation and cleanliness.

Operator Advantages: Ease of Operations, Cleaning & Safety

With the vertically-opening, fixed frame architecture, the SUN625 Rotary Die Cutter has a well-lit interior and boasts multiple features that make operating the die cutter much easier and safer for your team. While inside the SUN625, operators can easily communicate with each other, cleaning high traffic areas and performing set up and maintenance tasks safely and efficiently. High visibility within the machine’s interior dramatically improves safety, as operators can see if something or someone is in the machine and avoid major accidents. In addition, there are no exposed impression nips, protecting your operators from potential harm. Easy access to printing plates, ink systems, and other important production components, without disturbing the pre-feeder, allow for quick job changes and increased productivity. Also, cleaning the machine is easier, and now more important than ever, to keep your operators safe from COVID-19, as well as, improve sheet quality and output.

Integrated on all SUN625s, the SunSet® touchscreen operator interface is a fully automated solution to machine set-up. This system utilizes order storage to retrieve the parameters in which previous jobs were run and the high graphic operator interface makes set-up fast and simple. The system’s uncomplicated controls make training and using the interface easy for any operator regardless of experience or skill-set and comes standard with remote connectivity to provide support and upgrades by the SUN Service team.

Considering the shortages of qualified operators in the industry, now with the safety and staffing challenges due to  COVID-19, protecting your operators and maximizing their abilities is a job the SUN625 was engineered for.

Management Advantages: Productivity & Profitability

The SUN625 Rotary Die Cutter was engineered to be a versatile, low-cost, high-producing workhorse for the economic Converter. With the ability to run 200 kicks per minute / 12,000 sheets per hour, this true 125” RDC was built to withstand the demands of a three shift 24/7 high production plant, while keeping maintenance costs low. Management can fully utilize, not only the speed of the machine, but its wide range of capabilities: running everything from lightweight single wall with high recycled fiber to rigid double wall,  small sheets to large sheets, simple print orders to complex print orders, and single piece to multi-out patterns. The SUN625’s vertically-opening, fixed frame design, as noted earlier, allows for quick operator set up/maintenance  and cleaning, which minimizes safety risks, reducing downtime and increasing productivity and profitability. Notably, the SUN625 rotary die cutter costs significantly less than other competitor RDCs of similar features, uses less real estate within your facility, has a proven low part-failure rate and very low costs for replacement parts.

As management navigates the economy and industry during these unpredictable times, investing in converting machinery that is economic, efficient and profitable is a must.  The proven low cost of ownership over the lifetime of the machine, plus its sheet versatility and productivity features, make the SUN625 a profitable choice, with little risk for Converters, during these challenging times.

The Best Choice for A Promising Future

Purchasing a Rotary Die Cutter is never an easy decision. With the added factors of COVID-19, staffing shortages, safety requirements and more, choosing a rotary die cutter that both operators and management love is key to solidifying your future within the corrugating converting market. The SUN625’s architecture and machine features offer increased safety, cleanliness, visibility and ease of operations for operators, while being a profitable and productive investment for management. Contact SUN Automation Group today to learn more about this innovative workhorse and request a quote.

 

 

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Open/Close or Set While Run: Which Flexo Folder Gluer is Right for the Job?

There are multiple quality Flexo Folder Gluer (FFG) manufacturers in the market, but not every machine offers the features you need to produce the boxes in your current or aspiring order mix, efficiently and economically. Auditing your print jobs and process aspirations is the key to understanding what machine features you’ll need to achieve your goals, for long runs or small orders. There are many things to consider when purchasing a Flexo Folder Gluer, and if your due diligence is not thorough, you could be making the wrong decision for your company.  Consider the following when deciding on the right capital investment for your order mix, your employees and your future.

Send us your order mix and production goals and our system can calculate which Flexo Folder Gluer size, configuration, color stations and machine features would generate the best ROI for your operations.

 

Long Run Print Jobs (> 5,000)

Flexo Folder Gluers have evolved into fast, powerful workhorses, capable of high speed converting of sheets, to meet the demand of the corrugated packaging industry. If primarily converting corrugated board in mass quantities, consider the following in your purchase of an FFG.

Open/Close Systems

If you are seeking a Flexo Folder Gluer to increase capacity and productivity and have few changeovers per shift, an Open/Close system may make the most sense for your operations. Open/Close systems do not allow operator access to the internal machine components during production. The configuration is either off and open for job changeovers or closed for production – there is no in between. These powerful FFG systems, like the Latitude P-Series, are built for speed and capacity, getting those large orders out the door efficiently and effectively.

In our experience serving box makers, we believe that an Open/Close FFG is best for printers producing 10 or less print jobs per shift. We’ve observed printers spending between 20-30 minutes preparing an Open/Close machine between jobs, and that downtime can add up if job changes become frequent. For example, let’s say the machine can produce an ROI of $1,000 per hour, and it takes operators 30 minutes for changeovers; with 10 job changes per shift, you would have about 5 hours of machine downtime, losing virtually $5,000 per shift. This could add up to a whopping 5+ million in loss value every year, assuming 24/7 operations.  That’s why speed, capacity and quality are the highlight of these converting workhorses, making them a smart option for converters with few job changes per shift.

Set While Run

Although Open/Close systems have been the system of choice for mass box production, some corrugated converters are finding that Set While Run machines can optimize their work force during long run orders.  We have witnessed Converters reduce the number of operators per shift, using Set While Run technology, while still maintaining their machine productivity and box quality.  During long runs on an Open/Close machine configuration, operators may have down time as they wait for orders to complete before setting the machine for the next job. However, with Set While Run, one press operator can float between multiple stations and prepare other machines for the next order in the queue. Printers taking advantage of this method can maximize their operators’ time on the floor and reduce downtime immensely.

Short Run Print Jobs (< 5,000)

As order mixes shift from millions of shipping boxes to seasonal branding vehicles, short runs have quickly become the money makers of the box industry… if you have the equipment to produce them efficiently. Orders of 5,000, or less, are now more common than ever and a Set While Run machine is the choice for this order mix. Here’s why…

Set While Run

For Corrugated Printers producing 10+ print jobs consistently per shift, we recommend Flexo Folder Gluers that are Set While Run. Set While Run technology allows operators to prepare unused print stations for the next job order, while the machine is still producing the first. Access to the plate cylinders, ink stations and other components are available while the machine is still in production. This allows operators to change plates, modify inks and prepare other consumables for the next job, without interrupting production. When a short run is done, the operator need only to perform a few simple tasks to begin the next order. With minimal downtime, ease of operations and high-quality printing and folding, Set While Run FFGs, like the Latitude PP-Series with inside printing capabilities, are a solid choice for dynamic printers producing small quantities throughout the days.

Long & Short Run Mix

But what if your order mix changes by season? What if it’s practically half and half? If throughout the year there is seasons of both long runs and short runs, a Set While Run machine is the best option for your operations. During seasons of small order quantities, the ability to set the machine for the next order, during production, is a must in order to remain competitive. When the long run contracts renew, having a machine that is powerful and fast is key to remaining productive and profitable. LMC’s unique/smart design make the set while run machine a very affordable option over the open close configuration without increasing the required machine footprint. The flexibility and functionality offered by a Set While Run configuration makes it a great hybrid option for converters who navigate seasons of large and small order quantities.

 

Custom FFG Generator

Purchasing a new Flexo Folder Gluer is a risky venture that converters take with the hope of solidifying their future within the box industry. SUN Automation is happy to assist you in your search for the perfect Flexo Folder Gluer for your order mix and your future. Take advantage of the SUN Custom FFG Generator – send us your order mix and production goals and our system can calculate which Flexo Folder Gluer size, configuration, color stations and machine features would generate the best ROI for your operations. For decades, SUN has provided quality corrugated converting equipment to the box industry with the parts and service support you know and trust. With the partnership between SUN Automation and Latitude Machinery, SUN Automation now offers quality Flexo Folder Gluers and other Latitude equipment to the North and Central American market. Latitude Machinery Corp. manufacturers Flexo Folder Gluers ranging from Mini to JUMBO, and are “probably the best machine as far as boxes of any plant we have in our company” according to Brian Fitch, General Manager of Premier Packaging, Indianapolis facility (View Customer Testimonial). LMC is a Taiwanese company located in the independent nation of Taiwan and a long-time ally of the United States. Speak with a Specialist to discuss your capital equipment goals and how we can assist you with Everything Corrugated Under SUN.

4 REASONS YOU SHOULD INVEST IN AN ANVIL TRIMMER FOR YOUR ROTARY DIE CUTTER

As corrugated packaging designs become more intricate in request, the die cut section of your converting machine can make the difference between a corrugated POP and a corrugated FLOP. Whether it be automatic packaging lines, trays, retail ready packaging, or display work, high quality corrugated design requires a persistent eye on perfection.  A die cut […]

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MicroGrind® Anvil Trimmer [InfoGraphic]

For a higher level of precision, consistency and repeatability, SUN Automation Group’s MicroGrind ® Die Cut Accuracy System hits the mark. For years, machine designers attempted to trim the anvil with several different methods. While those methods were effective, none have been as successful as MicroGrind. Sun’s MicroGrind system uses a tungsten carbide grinding roll to grind the anvil flat and true. This inventive idea allows the surface to be treated in micro amounts (0.001” or 0.025 mm) automatically with grinding precision every 10,000 impressions without operator intervention.

 

 

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Dual Blade Ink Systems: Advantages and Disadvantages

It’s no secret that the corrugated market has slowly but surely increased in intricate process work. With the rise of E-commerce, unboxing trends, point of purchase displays and inside designs, Corrugated Printers needed to quickly adapt to the complex needs of the market to stay competitive.  As the demand for higher quality print continues to grow, Corrugated Converters are looking to new innovations to tackle the detailed designs of today’s top brands. Corrugated ink system manufacturers have made great strides in technology to help Converters achieve the precise, controlled ink metering needed for high quality print.

Currently, there are 3 types of corrugated ink systems: a Roll-to-roll ink system, a single doctor blade system and a dual doctor blade system. Converters who have no requirements for process work should have no issues using the 2-roll ink systems to achieve flood coating or block letter printing of shipping box clients. However, Converters seeking to diversify their product portfolio and improve print quality should consider switching to an ink system that utilizes a doctor blade.

There are many reasons to switch to a doctor blade ink system, but which of the 2 doctor blade systems are best for your process? In this blog post, we’ll focus on dual blade, enclosed ink systems and the advantages and disadvantages of this technology. We’ve considered the same for single blade ink systems in another blog published here: LINK.

Dual Blade Ink Systems

ACCUPRINT® DUAL BLADE CHAMBERED CORRUGATED INK SYSTEMS

A dual doctor blade ink system is a fully enclosed ink system, with two doctor blades installed – one blade for metering the anilox roll and one blade for ink containment. Dual blade systems require 2 end seals and adequate chamber pressure in order to maintain the tight seal between the ink chamber and the anilox roll.

Advantages

Dual blade ink systems are catching stride in the industry as the premium ink system solution for high quality process printing. The major advantages of a dual blade system derive from its fully enclosed design. The sealed chamber protects the ink from the harsh environments of corrugated, sustaining proper ink viscosity much longer than an open system.  In addition, the secured chamber leaves little access for dust, dirt and debris to contaminate the ink or interrupt the ink pump, which improves color consistency, print quality and uptime. Also, ink waste is at a minimum with enclosed systems considering the containment blade holds ink inside the chamber and little ink is wasted within an ink pan. A dual blade system is a process work horse, effectively metering the tighter cells and intricate details found in today’s process work. Utilizing the advantages of a dual blade ink system is a sure way to delight customers with the best quality print.

Disadvantages

Although dual blade ink systems are an incredible technology for process work, they, like many print systems, have some disadvantages. Because of the added containment components and the product development warranted for this ink system, the price of a dual blade system is higher than that of a single blade system. Also, a dual blade system is most effectively used for process work and is often restricted to that niche of print jobs, making them less economic for printers who print a variety of jobs on a single press. Additionally, there is the added costs of consumables (2 blades and end seals), which need to be replaced regularly. Lastly, enclosed chamber systems require more operator training, and therefore are more vulnerable to operator mishaps. Press disruptions like end seal blow outs, chamber leaks, nonuniform blades and more, can be caused by a new or under-trained operator interacting with the equipment.

AccuPrint® Dual Blade Ink System

For converting machinery printing predominantly process work, a dual blade ink system is the best solution for your jobs. This system effectively meters higher line screen anilox rolls, while maintaining color consistency and print quality.

For superior graphics using quality inks and substrates, AccuPrint® is the corrugated ink system of choice. Manufactured by SUN Automation Group, AccuPrint® is a flexo ink-metering system that protects ink from the harsh factory environment to improve ink quality and performance. Designed to counteract the traditional disadvantages of a dual blade system, AccuPrint® features a toolless design allowing for quick and easy end seals and blade changes. Additionally, AccuPrint®  is equipped with a pressurized air bladder to uniformly hold the blades in place to consistently meter the anilox. Ultimately, AccuPrint® technology minimizes the risk for operator error. Backed by the SUN service and support team, SUN offers operator training and 24/7 on call or onsite support to assist with any and all operator needs.

For more information on the SUN AccuPrint® Dual Blade Ink System, and to request a quote, CLICK HERE.

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Single Blade Ink Systems: Advantages and Disadvantages

The corrugated box is no longer just a simple medium to deliver products from point A to point B. Boxes are now a large part of the consumer experience and expected to be a sophisticated marketing piece. As a result, Corrugated Printers are quickly adapting to the complex needs of this new market to stay competitive. As the demand for higher quality print continues to grow, Converters have turned to chamber manufacturers to achieve the precise, controlled ink metering needed for high quality print.

Currently, there are 3 types of corrugated ink systems: a roll-to-roll ink system, a single doctor blade system and a dual doctor blade system. Converters who do not require any process work typically have no issues using a 2-roll ink system to achieve the flood coating or block letter printing. However, Converters seeking to diversify their product portfolio and improve print quality should consider switching to an ink system that utilizes a doctor blade.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on single blade ink systems and the advantages and disadvantages of this technology. We’ve considered the same for dual blade ink systems in another blog published here: LINK.

Single Blade Ink Systems

COLORMASTER® SINGLE BLADE INK SYSTEM CORRUGATED INK SYSTEMSA single blade ink system is an open ink system, with one doctor blade installed for metering the anilox roll. Single blade ink systems require an ink pan directly below the system to catch the run-off ink, which is then filtered and pumped back into the system. 

Advantages

Single doctor blade ink systems have become increasingly popular among Corrugated Converters today for many reasons.  For starters, they cost much less than their dual-blade counterparts and are capable of effectively metering a variety of print applications: higher line screen process work, block lettering, flood coats etc.  Printers also spend less money on consumables– only one blade is required and no end seals are needed in single blade systems.  In addition, the open design allows for easier access for wash ups, decreasing clean times and therefore increasing press uptime.

Disadvantages

Although single blade ink systems are the popular choice of blade systems, there are some downfalls to this ink-delivering technology. The most obvious disadvantage is the fact that the system is open, therefore exposed to the surrounding environment. If you’ve walked through a corrugated plant, then you know it can be a hostile setting for your ink. Dust, dirt, debris and scraps have easier access to an open system (single blade or roll-to-roll) and can cause hickeys and other defects within your print, as well as disruption within your ink pumps. The open system also makes it difficult to maintain ink viscosity, resulting in a breakdown in pigments and the need for possible amine additives. Another disadvantage is the potential ink waste. With a single blade system, ink residue is not only found within the ink cavity, but also within the ink pan, causing more waste than what you would expect from an enclosed chamber.

ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System

For facilities producing a wide variety of orders – flood coats, process work, and block lettering – we recommend a single blade ink system. The capabilities of these systems are flexible and can effectively and efficiently meter an assortment of print jobs.

Sun Automation Group manufacturers an economic and versatile single blade ink system for Corrugated Printers – ColorMaster®. The ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System is lightweight, corrosion resistant and economically designed to improve ink metering for printers worldwide. The design of the ColorMaster®  combats some of the traditional disadvantages of a single blade ink system. ColorMaster®  is equipped with a stainless steel shield to effectively shelter your ink from dust and debris, maintaining ink integrity and improving print quality. The ColorMaster® base assembly and SST ink pan (between frames) and all of its options are sold separately so you can purchase only what is required.  Even more, with our fleet of service technicians and coordinators, SUN can retrofit your machines with the ColorMaster® Ink System with limited downtime.

Ready to delight your customers with higher quality print?  CLICK HERE for more information on the SUN ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System, and to request a quote.