Midwest packaging printer serves a unique niche of blister card packs
- Blister packaging market is growing and expanding
- Calls KBA-Iberica Optima 106 “best in class” piece of equipment
- Die cutter offers quick makeready, smooth operation, and substantial waste reduction
With an expanding market and the “best business in years,” Lithographic Industries, a privately-owned, third generation packaging printer located in Broadview, IL, chose to invest in its business by adding a new KBA-Iberica Optima 106 die cutter after thoroughly investigating what was competitively offered in the marketplace. The firm, which is known for its high-quality blister card printing in combination gang runs, has always remained a bit under the radar in its one-story facility on a quiet street in this suburb of Chicago. But its customers have long recognized the firm’s fine heritage as the oldest combination blister card manufacturer in the U.S. since 1961, its superb quality, and its service-oriented philosophy.
For nearly six months, the KBA-Iberica Optima 106 has proven its ruggedness, efficiency, and high speed as an integral part of the firm’s production, providing Lithographic Industries with a competitive edge as the demand for blister packs has posted a sharp rise. It is paired with the firm’s unique 11-color Koenig & Bauer Rapida 41-inch sheetfed offset press, the only one of its type in the U.S., offering two sided printing for nine-over-two combination blister card and insert card printing.
“We produce unique solutions for our customers and we depend on equipment that is operating smoothly and efficiently with minimal downtime,” says Louis A Ebert, president of Lithographic Industries. “The superior technology from KBA-Iberica on the Optima 106 die cutter has significantly increased our throughput and led to enhanced client satisfaction. This new die cutter has completely eliminated variability right from the start. It registers the sheet perfectly. Additionally, it reduced waste and increased our productivity, which is especially important as the need for more capacity has grown.”
“We applaud Lou Ebert and his entire team at Lithographic Industries for investing in this ‘step-change technology’ at its Chicagoland location,” says Steve Korn, KBA North America director of national and key accounts. “This capital investment offers a very quick payback schedule of under two years and has already enabled Lithographic Industries to reach the first step of its business growth goals in the blister packaging market space. It will, quite simply, provide a competitive edge in this unique market for many years to come. On a personal note, it is with great pride and pleasure to once again be trusted with an order from Lithographic Industries. They are outstanding people running a top-notch operation.”
One of the key features of the KBA-Iberica Optima 106 flatbed die cutter, according to Ebert, is its grip edge removal system. His operators have found that its pneumatic clamps fix the wooden templates for perfect and secure positioning and reduce makeready time. Having this new system in place at Lithographic Industries allows the operation to effectively remove the gripper edge trim fully automatically so there are less downstream steps on each job, which saves approximately 25% in time and related labor expenses.
With capacity increasing and the growing need to more efficiently run jobs through the die cutter, Ebert has found that the Optima 106 is ruggedly built and matches his Koenig & Bauer 41” press and provides 6% in additional square inches on each sheet cut. This results in a productivity bonus in relationship to the previous die cutter from a different manufacturer that was replaced. This extra room allows the firm to be able to produce larger combos to help maximize its sheet size.
“The KBA-Iberica Optima 106 die cutter is our workhorse,” says Ebert. “We’re running it day in and day out at 8,000 sheets per hour. Due to its increased automation and technology, we’re finding that our sheets are running through the die cutter very smoothly, without the jerky motion of our previous die cutter. As a result we need significantly fewer nicks, which also saves time and we’ve seen an increase in improved quality due to the Optima 106. Plus there’s been no downtime because the machine is so dependable. It is a real time-saver for our operators and our company, and let’s face it, time is money.”
Lithographic Industries has long held a deep partnership with KBA North America, especially noting its decades-long relationship with Steve Korn. Ebert was also impressed with Tom Fitzgerald, KBA North America’s product manager of post-press products, who provided his own expertise and tips to using the new machine and has become a trusted resource.
“Like our Rapida 105 press, which I feel is far superior to any other press model on the market, our new Optima 106 die cutter is designed and built by KBA-Iberica to be very industrial, precise, and of course very well-engineered and gives us more production, an increase in throughput, and a very high level of quality and consistency that can’t be matched,” says Ebert. “It will deliver higher returns for our company and we’ve calculated an extremely fast payback on our investment. We replaced a die cutter from a different manufacturer and are delighted with our decision. Koenig & Bauer is a first-class company to do business with and you can trust their people to deliver on any promise made.”
Left to right: The team at Lithographic Industries celebrates its new KBA-Iberica Optima 106 die cutter: Louis Ebert Jr, Vice President Sales; Roman Ebert, Vice President Manufacturing; Louis A Ebert Sr, President & CEO; and Lalo Abarca, Die Cutting Operator.