Welch Packaging – a US corrugated packaging company focused on providing custom packaging solutions to its local customers – has set a new world record for the number of set-ups in a single 8-hour shift. The Chicago branch of Welch managed a staggering 103 order changes in 8 hours, each requiring its own set-up of the machine. The machine in question is an FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY from BOBST – a super-efficient Flexo-Folder-Gluer, which guarantees the making of high-quality RSC boxes and which is known for its rapid set-up time and high productivity.
“We are very proud and very excited to have achieved this world record,” said Doug Poulston, General Manager at Welch Chicago. “We believe it is indicative of our culture at Welch – we are committed to our local customers, we have a very “can do” approach, and we pride ourselves on quick turnarounds. On this particular day, we had large, urgent orders from two of our major customers and we were determined to make it happen for them. With the help of our exceptional flexo folder gluer and production team, that’s exactly what we did.”
Welch Chicago purchased BOBST’s FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY in the summer of 2017. It was the latest in a line of packaging production machines Welch had purchased from BOBST, the two companies having formed a close partnership.
“We know with BOBST, it is more than just a transactional relationship,” said Dan Kunkes, Plant Manager at Welch Chicago. “They are invested in our success too; after all, it is good for both parties if we maximize the abilities of their machines. After our FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY was installed, BOBST personnel visited us multiple times to provide the technical coaching needed to ensure best practice and optimal operational techniques. Now our operators are experts on the machine and know how to maximize it, which the world record clearly demonstrates.”
Welch produces corrugated boxes for companies in a wide range of sectors, including food and drink, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It particularly focuses on supporting local businesses; as a result, short runs are very common. A machine with a quick set-up time and high productivity therefore serves the company very well. The company actually achieved four back-to-back set-up world records, including the final run of 103.
“The hidden factor is that the machine has served as an additional catalyst in the already dynamic culture of Welch Packaging,” said Mr. Poulston. “Our production floor is more competitive from shift to shift than ever before. The energy has been contagious, leading to the four back-to-back world records. Our mantra throughout our organization, instilled in all of us by Scott Welch, is “let’s win.” We are executing on that mantra and ultimately our customers are experiencing the benefits.”
FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY is known for maintaining accuracy and quality at high speed, with fully automated, high-quality folding. What’s more, it is an extremely user-friendly machine with an intuitive man / machine interface, and is highly robust, with low maintenance needs.
“Its preventative maintenance program is excellent, letting everyone know when it needs servicing well ahead of time,” said Mr. Kunkes. “The one area where most machines fall down is the machine calibration – that is not the case with FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY. When operators know that the machine is set up accurately and will be accurate all the time, they don’t need to second guess things or make adjustments, and it just makes the whole process much smoother and quicker.”
And what about the future?
“We will keep working hard for our customers - whatever they want, we’re going to make it happen for them,” said Mr. Poulston. “If that results in more records, then fantastic. We were actually very close to the total box production record (which currently stands at 131,518 boxes in a single 8-hour shift), just falling a minute or two short. So that one is in our sights! But ultimately what matters most is achieving what our customers need, and that will continue to be our focus.”
From left to right: Hector Rios (Maintenance Manager), Phil Eads, (Regional Sales Manager, Bobst North America Inc.), Paul Sarna (Flexo Leadman), Matt Danczyk (Plant Superintendent), Didier Chevroton, (Area Sales Manager, Bobst Lyon), Dan Kunkes (Plant Manager), Ruben Jiminez (Operator), Kendale Cooper (Operator), Raymundo Hernandez (Assistant), Tom Phillips, Director, Product Line FFG-DRO, Bobst North America Inc.), Steve Alvarado (Shift Supervisor), Dave Hense (Assistant).