Mex, Switzerland - Only months after installing a state-of-the-art Bobst flexo printer and folder-gluer line, Mitchel-Lincoln Packaging Ltd in Quebec established a record for production of corrugated boxes. In an eight-hour shift in March 2016 the line operators output 162,136 printed, folded and glued boxes, acknowledged by Bobst as a world production record. Now the company is considering a second Bobst line to replace two older folder-gluers.
Mitchel-Lincoln Packaging first installed its BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE flexo folder-gluer at the end of 2015, replacing a 30-year-old Martin 924 line. It went into the 220,000 square foot St-Laurent factory and was soon establishing record production levels.
“If I had to pick a phrase to describe this machine, it would be total productivity,” says company president Jimmy Garfinkle. “Not only did we replace an aging machine with the new capabilities, but we more than doubled our productivity on that line and the efficiency turn has been great!”
The BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE is a highly automated and modular flexo folder-gluer line that combines multiple flexo press units with rotary diecutter and folder-gluer elements, to handle corrugated boards up to 85.8 inches wide. It can convert up to 24,000 boxes per hour, yet only needs two operators. Changeover between jobs is as little as one to two minutes thanks to “set-while-run,” automatic plate changing and Sequential Order Change technologies.
For shorter runs with more frequent changeovers, Garfinkle says a third operator is added. “The downtime for changeovers on this machine is typically short to begin with,” he says, “but when we have a third operator plating up, often while the current job is running, it further reduces downtime and increases efficiency. This helps us control the cost not only of our operation, but for our customers as well.”
Mitchel-Lincoln Packaging was founded in St-Laurent in 1965 by Mitch Garfinkle, Jimmy’s father. Today the company employs over 800 people at five locations in Canada. “We still maintain my father’s traditions and values,” explains Garfinkle, “by always being ready to listen to our customers, employees and the markets to help us plan our next move. My son Alex, now the third generation of our family, is working on business development with an eye on his, as well as the company’s future.”
With its customer base covering a wide range of markets and products— from general food-and-beverage to high-end cosmetics and other packaged consumer goods—Mitchel-Lincoln has worked hard to establish itself as a leading player in eastern Canada’s corrugated market.
“Our market reach is wider than that of many of our competitors,” says Garfinkle. “We have a trading radius of about 500 miles. In order to compete at this range, we are continually evaluating our equipment and our processes.”
The choice of the BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE reflects this need. Investigating potential equipment investments goes deeper than just comparing features and capabilities, Garfinkle says: “Support is very important to us, and so is knowing that the manufacturer that we select has the infrastructure to provide training for our employees, and quickly resolve any technical or mechanical issues should they arise.
“We have always had a good relationship with Bobst, and the BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE provided the capabilities we were looking for, including the quick-changeover and ‘set while run’ capabilities.
“We actually went down to Minnesota and Florida to look at a couple of installations of this machine in the field,” he recalls. “It was immediately evident, even back then, that the 8.20 machine’s speed and efficiency would meet our needs.”
Also important has been engaging the employees in the new line. “We were in communication with our employees from the beginning of the evaluation process,” says Garfinkle. Earning a spot on the 8.20 crew is now a coveted position at Mitchel-Lincoln, he says: “The operators on that machine consider their position as a point of pride. Everyone in the plant wants to graduate to being an operator on the 8.20; it really is considered to be that special.”
As for performance, the BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE productivity not only meets the plant’s requirements, but has dramatically exceeded original expectations.
“We’ve been so happy with the overall success of the 8.20 FFG that we’re looking for other opportunities in our manufacturing organization that may be able to take advantage of this technology,” Garfinkle states. “To that end, we’re currently investigating the feasibility of installing another BOBST 8.20 EXPERTLINE to replace two older folder-gluers in our organization. We’re always watching, studying and following trends to determine what the market will want next, so that we can be there ahead of it and ready to go.”