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Sheeter maximizes customer service

Addition of a second Maxson sheeter at Ling Industries has made 'choreographing even last minute pressroom schedule changes easier'

Owned by Rock Tenn since 1993, Canadian carton converter Ling Industries has annual sales of Can$115M, employing 400-450 workers in its 450,000ft2 facility. From Warwick, Quebec, it services Canadian, New England and eastern New York personal care, tissue, food and beverage markets.

Today’s highly competitive folding carton climate makes servicing customers a top priority. As Patrick Giguère, handling manager, explains: “We work with the end user from the ‘get go’. With our Custom Design Program we’ll take a client’s product and ask, ‘What type of box do you want? Where is it going to be retailed? How do you want to display it?’ Next, we develop a conceptual model. Then we work with the customer to refine the box design.”

Once final approvals of design and graphics are received, a standard box can be delivered within two weeks – emphasizing how closely the company works with its purchasers’ schedules to ensure product is on retail shelves on time.

To meet deadlines, the company has invested in machinery that “provides it with the versatility to meet the market’s demands and the flexibility to schedule quick turnarounds”. There are 33 different production lines ranging from printing presses to metal edgers, die cutters, waxers and folder gluers – all playing an integral role in producing 25M boxes a week.

Until Rock Tenn’s acquisition of the company, as many as three outside converters supplied sheeted stock to the printing operation. To improve delivery schedules, in 1995 Ling began converting on site with a Maxson sheeter previously used by a Rock Tenn mill.

As business grew, the printing department added more sheet-fed presses. Although the sheeter was converting more than 80 ton of recycled board daily, it was unable to keep up with production demands. Company management found itself still relying on external suppliers for sheets. The lead times of the board were affecting the converter’s ability to respond quickly to its customers’ demands.

As Patrick Giguère relates: “If a customer called us with an emergency order on Friday night, we could start on the job that very night, so that the printing department can have the board Saturday morning. That’s not feasible when there are lead times of trucks to schedule, delivery of material to an off-site location and having someone else’s sheeter up and running at a moment’s notice. So in order to give us more flexibility, we began promoting the idea of additional sheeting capacity.”

From the outset, plant management considered investing only in new equipment. Recalls Patrick Giguère: “We were looking for state of the art technology and automation to realize maximum productivity. We didn’t want to get a used piece of equipment and spend time bringing it up to current standards.”

There were two significant factors that determined the parameters of the new sheeting equipment – the size of Ling’s printing presses and the trim of a supplier’s board machine.

The printing armoury comprises two 40in, three 55in and one 63in format sheet-fed presses – so at a minimum the sheeter needed to handle “short grain” runs on the widest printing press. One of the recycled mills that supplied the folding carton plant had an 88in wide board machine. Intuitively, that seemed like a natural match for the width of a new sheeter.

Explains Patrick Giguère: “When we looked at that, we realized it was very efficient because we could service two of our press sizes on a double width format. So in terms of throughput, every cut produced two sheets.”

The company’s specifications for the new sheeter addressed the latest in automation to insure quality and productivity. It would have to include a computerized high speed splicer to eliminate downtime associated with roll changes. A detector to monitor the level of metal content in the recycled board, diverting unacceptable sheets was specified. Programmed web conditioning systems were requested to compensate automatically for the amount of decurl to be applied to insure a flat sheet. A dual knife rotary cutter was selected for a cleaner, quieter cut than the existing stationary bed knife sheeter. Finally, a count actuated quick pallet discharge system, capable of offloading full skids while the sheeter continued running without the loss of any acceptable sheets was identified as a useful option.

The selection committee considered three sheeter suppliers. Ultimately, it chose the DFK Sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery. “It made sense to buy from a supplier we already knew, one we already dealt with, and whose equipment already had proven it could do the job. Maxson was the best fit for us based on their reputation for service and value,” states Patrick Giguère.

Within three weeks of delivery, usable sheets were being converted for the pressroom. Even training of the French speaking operators presented no problem because of the “hands-on approach of Maxson’s installation team” and referencing controls in the local language.

The emphasis on automation has paid large dividends, claims the company. Giguère identifies the non-stop operation at both ends of the sheeter and the consistent, trouble-free performance of the dual knife rotary cutter and rejection gate as reasons why the DFK averages approximately 5tons/h while generating less than one per cent of waste. As a result, the project’s two-year payback forecast is on schedule.

Larger runs (in excess of 60,000 sheets) are usually run on the DFK. Typically, three size changes are made every 24 hours on the newer sheeter. Smaller production orders are run on the other Maxson sheeter. Despite averaging 12 size changes a day, the older Maxson still produces three tons an hour while generating less than 1.25 per cent waste, it is claimed.

Management’s commitment to service means keeping the printing presses running to meet tight delivery schedules. Ling Industries’ 40in presses run at speeds of up to 15,000 sheets/hour. But the older 65in sheeter produces 10,000 sheets/hour. So the sheeter needs to be a day ahead of the printing schedule. Still, service means responding to ever changing situations. The addition of the second sheeter has made choreographing even last minute pressroom schedule changes easier.

What’s on the horizon for Ling Industries? More of the same. Opportunities in expanding flexographic printing are being considered. Like the recent sheeter project, the questions of what equipment is to be put in, what machinery is to be replaced, and how is this going to be done are only asked after the question, ‘How can we best serve our Customers?’ is answered.

More information from Brent H Burdick, Maxson – TEL: +1 401 596 0162. EMAIL: bburdick@maxsonautomatic.com