Lean manufacturing is key to operating in today's tight markets and using this business strategy to good effect is the Benson Group, a UK carton producer. This Leicester-based company went away from Heidelberg for a short time, returning two years ago to purchase a six-unit Speedmaster XL 105 with coating. Such has been the success of this press that the company added a second similar machine this summer.
The facts speak for themselves. The company is producing 46 million sheets per annum on the XL 105 compared to 18 million on the 15 year old CD 102 that has just been replaced. Makereadies of 30 to 40 minutes are typical now compared to 70 to 75 minutes on the older press. Both presses run at 18,000sph as a matter of course and makeready is typically done at 14,000sph. Both XL 105s have full logistics, a materials handling option which brings new board into, and takes completed work out of, the press, enhancing throughput and efficiency.
The Benson Box factory at Bardon, Leicestershire, works to green credentials because even in recession, the retailers continue to take environmental matters seriously because it is important to their customers. The Bardon company runs both presses alcohol free and found it easy to do so, although in doing so it recognised there were disciplines, including formalised maintenance programmes, that were required to take that step.
"The power consumption of this highly specified press is higher of course, but the number of products per hour is much greater so that the energy consumption per carton has significantly reduced," says Mark Kerridge, Benson Group managing director. "We also use spectrophotometric measurement and print colour management to reduce waste sheets and we recycle and re-use resources where we can. We only use carton boards made from recycled fibres or from sustainably managed forests. Some 90-95 % of all carton board produced in Europe is sustainably managed forests but not all of this is supported by Chain of Custody (FSC or PEFC) certification."
Faster, smarter, greener…but also aesthetically pleasing. Quality is still high in the consciousness of retailers and expectations in this area only ever increase. The Bardon factory is producing work to ISO 12647-2 standards.
"We have pride in what we do. We want to produce the best quality work. That is why we measure and control using Axis Control spectrophotometry and Prinect closed loop workflows. It is about defining the standards of who we are and what we stand for. We can produce better results with greater ease," says Mr Kerridge.
"There is a distinct service ethos in the UK, a 24/7 culture with short lead times and short run lengths. Customers like to keep low stock levels and to have an entirely reliable and efficient supplier. It is a customer-driven not production-driven market," says Mr Kerridge.
Some 95 % of the company's market is UK-based but service levels and the currently favourable exchange rate has attracted more export work recently. One continental customer visited on a Thursday with new artwork, made changes on Friday and received a consignment of three different carton sizes by Monday morning. Needless to say they were impressed!
"We have returned to Heidelberg. We are very impressed by the Speedmaster XL 105 technology. We think the company's World Logistics Centre is fantastic and the whole service, support and spare parts approach has improved dramatically over the last decade," says Mr Kerridge.
Benson Group, which acquired certain trading assets of Cameron Linn at the turn of the year, is a £93m group. The Bardon plant outputs 750 million cartons a year for the food sector, whilst the group also maintains a strong interest in pharmaceutical carton production.