West Caldwell, N.J. – When you provide hazard alerting and utility graphics products and services to energy, fleet and other top security facilities in the U.S. where safety is a top priority, it’s wise not to take any chances. With business increasing and an old machine showing its age, management at Uticom Systems, Inc.in Coatesville, Pennsylvania did not blink when it was time. Not only did they jettison a 30-inch Challenge paper cutter for a same-size rebuilt machine, they double downed and added a reconditioned 45-inch Polar unit, both from Colter & Peterson.
Turning to North America’s largest independent distributor of paper cutters and paper handling equipment was an easy decision once the cards were on the table, says John Keeler, Uticom’s manufacturing engineer. Both reconditioned paper cutters were installed at the beginning of summer in June and are used to cut decals and sign materials of various sizes.
“We looked around at local people and contacted C&P. It was clear early on that they had the technical support and troubleshooting capability we were looking for. They also had people in our area who could respond quickly if needed,” commented Keeler, one of about 30 employees. He has worked at the company for 22 years.
Two opportunities to extend business
“We initially wanted to replace our old Challenge machine because the solenoids were causing issues and would be cost prohibitive to replace. C&P had a variety of machine sizes and the pair we bought were both up and running when we visited them. We brought some samples that they cut for us. Both machines suit our needs so it was just a matter of time before they were installed.”
For 31 years the family owned and operated company has manufactured a full line of utility graphics as a standard procedure, and strives to make employees aware of possible dangerous situations, usually connected to equipment. Their customers are nationwide and range from the U.S. Navy and Los Alamos National Laboratory, to major telephone, gas and electric utilities on both coasts and throughout the southern states.
“We cut material up to 60 mil, but usually it is a thinner gauge for our Confined Space cover signs. It is manufactured from a 1/8-inch by 18-inch by 36-inch sheet of reflective polycarbonate,” informed Keeler, whose brother Paul, is the company’s president. “We’ll use the Polar to cut PVC but depending on the sheet size, we use both to trim polycarbonate, engineered plastics or CAB.”
The engineered plastic is both opaque and clear. Along with CAB, which provides optical clarity and excellent scuff impact resistance, these are some of the materials Uticom converts. Keeler says they use the paper cutters to trim various sheet sizes, ranging from 24-by-36 inches to 40-by-36 inches. The decals are printed on 24-by-36 inch sheets and trimmed to smaller sizes. Each material must be impervious to withstand the worst conditions, from hot and cold temperature extremes and dirt and grime, to rain, ice and snow.
“The engineered sheets are thinner so we can stack and cut more lifts than the other material. Depending on the job, we may do as little as 10 or 20 or as many as a few thousand. The majority of our customers are on a regular schedule and some have capital projects with repeat business.”
Productivity and other advantages
With a computer control system on both cutters, Keeler says his six operators are now more productive with reduced set-up and cutting time.
“Our guys love these machines. They plug in the information, save the measurements, and with the auto adjust of the backgauge, they just go to town. Cutting multiple inches with each lift is saving them a lot of time,” he said, indicating that work at the 55,000 square-foot facility is keeping them busy six days a week.
“The Challenge is a good chop machine and well made. The control of the blade and the clamp settings meet safe working standards where it will not fail. Having its reliability was a big factor for us. The Polar is well made and a heavy duty machine. It doesn’t shake when cutting material. Other than the regular preventative maintenance we’ve done on both machines, so far it has been very good for us.”
Uticom has increased its productivity since adding two Colter & Peterson reconditioned paper cutters four months ago.