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AA Labels Invests £500,000 in Responsive Cartonboard Packaging Service

AA Labels has launched a fast and responsive cartonboard packaging service following a £500,000 investment in production capabilities.

The Peterborough operation invested in the UK’s first SCS Automaberg DCH200 die cutter and a Petratto Metro folder gluer from IFS. They have joined a Canon Image Press (C170 Series) digital colour press, capable of handling paperboard up to 350 gm² with a 1,300 mm long sheet feed.

In addition, and with the help of IFS, AA Labels also installed a Foliant Mercury 530 NG 4×4 double sided laminator and a Veloblade Volta digital cutting table.

The ‘one-stop shop’ for labels and stickers produces in excess of 100,000 combinations of labels. It offers plain and printed labels, in roll and sheet formats, with a comprehensive range of shapes, sizes and colours. Customers can place orders of any size online and in some cases collect in an hour.

It is this production flexibility that Ian Axelsen, Commercial Director, wanted to recreate with cartonboard packaging applications. Customers can now order an array of fast turnaround options from carry handle and bakery boxes to French fries containers and pillow pouches.

Ian Axelson, Director, explains: “We have a very specific view of the position that we will take within the market which has been created from the work we have done with labels. When we came into the label industry 15 years ago we found it was very legacy driven with long lead times from order to fulfilment. It was out of step with what was happening with online purchasing. We always felt internet marketing was the only way forward we haven’t changed our view on that.

“With the new service we wanted to ensure a high quality customer order experience and speed of order fulfilment. Provided the job is approved by midday we can commit to dispatching in 24 hours, irrespective of quantity. There is no minimum order or set up charge and it doesn’t matter if orders are 20 sheets or 20,000 sheets. Everything is included in the price.

“We have also set up the website so that people can order specific closure types or create their own design. By having a wide range of options available online and offering a custom service we can be as comprehensive as possible. The site has been created so orders can be placed very easily whether you are knowledgeable about the process or not.”

Establishing the new service has taken two years of research and planning. Ian states: “This is something we planned to do and we continued to go ahead with it despite the unfortunate timing with the shortage of paper products and difficulties in the logistics industry.”

Essential to its success was identifying the right finishing systems. He continues: “We didn’t want to compromise on cutting and creasing and folding and gluing. The SCS Automaberg DCH 200 is a well engineered machine. It has the fastest change over time for dies that we could find. That was important for operators having to manage many small quantities. They need to be able to complete a lot in a shift. This is also the reason operational ease was essential. We could see that a great deal of thought had gone into the system’s production process. It takes a lot of work to simplify something like that well. We were really impressed.”

As for the Petratto Metro he stated: “We liked the openness of it and its ease of access. It is not as quick to set up as the SCS but in our opinion it was quicker than other manufacturers. It is good Italian engineering and well put together.”

The easy and fast to set up SCS Automaberg DCH200 compact automatic die-cutter delivers non stop production capabilities. It has a maximum die cutting size of 490 x 700 mm and a maximum paper size of 540 x 1000 mm for substrates up to 800 gsm and corrugated board thickness up to 4 mm. it runs 1800 sheets/hour. The unit works horizontally, with sheet transport to the die cut station achieved maintained by the driving clamps.

The DCH200 allows both the traditional way of die cutting a full sheet and as well as multishapes on the same sheet. This reduces set up times, cost of the die cutting tool and patching time.

The Petratto Metro Folder Gluer is designed for special converting and printed jobs. Its open and modular structure supports greater flexibility while its digital management system provides a responsive interface with the other elements and attachments of the system. Jobs and sheet movement are controlled from the console. It manages a wide range of applications from presentation folders and envelopes to multimedia packaging, straight line boxes, cartons, and table tents.

Ian adds: “For return on investment we had said three to four years depending on the growth of the new service. However, we launched two weeks ago and we have already had 20,000 unit orders. We are now working on phase two with designers and developers on trays and boxes, glued and dry assembled. Then there will be a phase three.”