Like many highly skilled trades, cardboard engineering and sample making is becoming a bit of a ‘dark art’ and is a role that is increasingly difficult for the packaging industry to fill. When Nuttall Packaging Ltd realised its sample maker, who had 46 years of experience behind him, was planning to retire, the solution was found in the form of a DYSS X5-1630 digital die cutter from AG/CAD combined with AG/CAD's KASEMAKE structural packaging CAD software.
Established almost 100 years ago, the Manchester corrugated packaging specialist has been continually evolving for decades. In the last four years this evolution has seen TG Nuttall Packaging Ltd invest over £2m in a new pallet-strapper, pallet conveyor line, casemaker, Solarco boxmaker, 2 new delivery vehicles, a building refurbishment, and of course the digital cutter from AG/CAD. The newly refurbishment 40,000sqft Trafford Park facility and the investment in equipment is enabling the company to target almost 100% growth in the last 5 years.
However, with growth comes challenges and for 38 employee TG Nuttall Packaging Ltd, one particular challenge was in its sample making department. There were multiple concerns for Nuttall’s. Firstly, the company growth was generating a requirement for ever more samples to be produced. Secondly, the company’s vastly experienced sample maker was planning retirement, and thirdly, the sample maker was supported by an ageing sample cutting table originally supplied by AG/CAD some 20 years ago. With the department facing issues that were building up to a major bottleneck, Nuttall’s investigated the potential of a new sample cutting solution and opted for a digital cutter, once again supplied by AG/CAD.
Commenting upon the situation, Nuttall Packaging’s Managing Director, Mr Chris Bywater says: “As a business, we were faced with a number of issues that included a potential skills shortage, ageing equipment and a significantly increased workload. We purchased the intellectual property of another company and this has helped our business grow considerably. However, with this growth we have seen sample production more than double in a short period of time. We are now producing up to a 100 samples each week. This would have been almost impossible with the 20 year old AG/CAD KM cutting table due to its relatively low productivity, particularly on more complex diecuts incorporating cut-crease or perf.”
Nuttall’s had been thoroughly impressed with the reliability, up-time, service and support over the years for their old KM cutting table so AG/CAD was the immediate place to start looking for a replacement. “We spoke with Andrew and Paul at AG/CAD, discussed our needs in detail, and they proposed the DYSS X5-1630. We couldn’t believe the speed, precision and overall performance of the machine. From the demo, we knew it was the machine we needed."
Nuttall’s wanted a machine that could be rapidly set-up for sample production whilst offering a level of simplicity for shop floor operatives to run small batch production when required. “As a sheet plant and brown box company, our customers routinely insist upon samples for even the simplest 0201, as they want something tangible to hold and check over. With the DYSS we can make even a complex die cut sample or multiple samples in a matter of moments.
"If customers want a small batch run of 50 to 200 boxes, we can also make them on the DYSS with virtually no set-up times or costs. In contrast, our vastly experienced sample maker used the old-school method of hand-designing a sample and then if it was approved, we would convert it to a CAD file, send it to the cutting forme manufacturer, wait a few days for turnaround, and then finally get the job into production. With low quantity runs, the cost of cutting formes often made the job financially unviable. It also meant we were reliant on the sample maker and the cutting forme supplier before we could start a small production run, so sometimes we would turn the work away based on cost and time considerations. Now, we can do short runs on the DYSS X5-1630, reducing our reliance on highly skilled staff and external suppliers whilst turning out work at an economically viable rate.”
Since its installation earlier this year, the 1.6m by 2.5m machine has already been ramped up to running 10 hours a day. Commenting on this, Nuttall Packaging’s General Manager Mr Rob Bradford says: “Compared to our previous machine, the DYSS X5-1630 can cut way faster. This is mainly down to the high speed, 12,000 stroke per minute reciprocating knife tool and quick-change creasing tool. This speed and power means we are processing even heavy-duty doublewall boxes up to 14mm thick with ease and speed. The precision of the DYSS gives us great cut-quality and accuracy, even when we are doing detailed work such as tight slots and small 5mm diameter holes.”
DYSS - Set For Production
The low speed and limited table size of the old KM table made it suitable for little more than low-volume sample making. However, the new DYSS X5-1630 is already being used for production runs as well as the weekly 100+ sample output. Mr Bradford continues: “The old machine would require blade changes daily, whereas the DYSS has extended the service life of each blade to weeks, giving us reliability for longer production runs. The easy-to-use controller also has a built-in repeat feature so once a sample is approved and ready for short run production, we can set the machine and a shop-floor operative can run production simply by loading the board and hitting a button. This gives us non-stop production through the day if required. Of course, our high volume production is still cut using our conventional shop floor converting equipment.
With regard to set-up and turnaround times, the DYSS X5 is delivering further savings for Nuttall Packaging. As Mr Bradford concludes: “The new DYSS is 100% faster to set-up than the previous model. The DYSS X5-1630 has a 3D mapped tabletop for flatness and an auto-calibration sensor for the knife tool which ensures we do not cut too deeply. The sensor measures the knife depth at the touch of a button and saves considerable time and effort, even allowing us to continue to work with worn blades by recalibrating them as they wear. Additionally, we can line the boards against lay stops on the bed and this means we don’t need to set individual origin positions for each board.
This simple setting and operation, combined with the KASEMAKE CAD software makes the DYSS the ideal solution not only for a designer making prototypes and samples, but also for a less experienced factory operator producing short runs.”