Installation of the fast cutting table eliminate a bottleneck in the company’s finishing department
Miamisburg, OH (USA) – Many companies find that their new, productive wide format digital presses have caused a bottleneck in the finishing department. Category 5 Imaging has eliminated the bottleneck with a purchase of an Esko Kongsberg i-XP24 cutting table.
Based in a 20,000 square foot facility in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Category 5 was established in 2006 as Canada's first fully digital, full service large format printer. The company’s emphasis on high quality reproduction, caring customer service and attractive pricing has helped them attract an ‘A list’ of Canada's retailers, outdoor advertising companies, and advertising agencies. The company’s 28 employees operate five state-of-the-art presses and full service creative, prepress, fulfillment and shipping, all in house.
Bringing digital cutting in-house
About five years ago, Category 5 was getting more demand for custom die cut pieces and short runs. They did not have the capability to do the work in-house, so they gave it to a competitor that had a Kongsberg table. “It gave us a chance to satisfy our client needs and, at the same time, analyze what we should do in-house,” remembers Greg Priede, Category 5 Imaging General Manager. After some research they decided to invest in an entry-level machine from another manufacturer that was equipped with an Esko i-cut Vision system. “It seemed to be a good fit and worked reasonably well until an operator backed up into the workstation and broke the dongle,” adds Priede. “We had a hard time replacing it from the table manufacturer until we met Esko’s account manager in Canada, who helped us out.”
Category 5 is a growing company. In the past two years they have installed three new EFI™Vutek® presses on the floor to meet demand. “People are used to hitting ‘Print’ to get their printing done in the office, and figure that large format print is done the same way. For national retail window campaigns we like to ask five days for prepress, printing, off press finishing, distribution and shipping, although our analysis shows us that we can do the job in 2.5 days,” explains Priede. “We try to get jobs out the door as fast as possible, while keeping errors to a minimum.”
With the changing requirements for speed and investment in presses, Priede noticed that their bottlenecks were getting files to press and cutting the jobs after they were printed. "We decided to add more people in prepress and build more efficient internal rules and procedures to help feed the presses,” notes Priede. “But our primary problem was finishing jobs. We were at a point in time where our workload was too much for one shift, but would not keep two shifts busy. Our straight-line roll cutting device helped, but we needed a new table to help get jobs out the door faster.”
Priede did some additional research, deciding to invest in a Kongsberg i-XP24 table. “We did time studies with the Kongsberg table and found it three times faster than our older table,” comments Priede. “We also liked the idea that their service group was available nearby to help us, if needed.”
The Kongsberg i-XP24 helps turn short-run POP / POS displays work into profitable, value added jobs, helping sign and display shops offer their customers on-demand production with just-in-time delivery. The Kongsberg i-XP series provides a fast, flexible and highly reliable solution for short run production. With a maximum working area of 66”x126” and a maximum speed of 66” ips (inches per second), the i-XP series can convert a wide range of board, sheet and roll materials.
Now, with the Kongsberg i-XP24 on the floor for about three months, Priede is particularly impressed with its speed and versatility. “We are able to change tools out quickly, and the router is really fast for the materials we work with, like Sintra. When we need to make a lot of square cuts from a roll of material, the Kongsberg i-XP24 bed acts as a conveyor belt, and we get a lot of automated efficiencies. On very large runs, we will hire a temp helper and ask him to stack boards on the conveyer and help advance the material like it’s done with a roll. I like the idea that if we get busier in the future, the Kongsberg i-XP24 can grow with us, with an automatic feeder and unloader.”
One of the immediate benefits is that Category 5 fixed its bottleneck in the cutting department. They hired a second person for the cutting department and taught him how to use the company’s guillotine. Because of the Kongsberg table’s productivity, they have yet to add an afternoon shift with another employee. They are able to produce two full shifts’ work out of one shift, operating the guillotine, roll cutter, and Kongsberg table. They can always hire a new operator for a second shift to increase output as needed.
“We like the Kongsberg table’s versatility with materials,” remarks Priede. “For example, for interior transit signs we work with 17-point styrene. With our older cutter, there was some setup time, and the material was always slippery on the cutter. When we put it on the Kongsberg table, it almost loaded itself, and it was much faster and more accurate. The quality of cuts on foam board is also better on the Kongsberg table than on our previous cutter. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the Kongsberg table can automatically set the depth of cutting. On the other cutter, it has to be done manually.”
“One of our customers is a national retailer for whom we build corrugated sleeve advertising signs that fit over a framed structure. They are extremely demanding when it comes to delivery dates. We have to print, cut, score, flap and tape the corrugated piece,” says Priede. “When an order came in, it was the first thing we would run, and we would have to perform two passes on our other table to get it done. It was a slow process. Now, when a job comes in, we can do everything in one pass with the Kongsberg i-XP24. It’s at least three times faster. What used to be a four-day job is now a two and a half day job.”
The Kongsberg table has eliminated the finishing bottleneck at Category 5. Concludes Priede, “The Kongsberg i-XP24’s increased accuracy and efficiencies have helped us meet the ever-demanding requests of our customers in today’s marketplace.”