Me & my: KAS Mailwrap

For any printer dealing with large volumes of mailings, risking insertion mix-ups just isn’t an option.

And for businesses that deal with charities and clients in social housing, it’s crucial that work is carried out thoroughly and effectively to prevent any such mishaps and the potential threat of confidential information reaching the wrong hands.

Leeds-based Resource, which offers litho and digital printing, personalisation, creative design and cross-media services, completes a large amount of work for clients in these areas. 

The 44-staff, £4m-turnover company had previously outsourced its polywrapping work but, upon finding a steadily increasing demand for the work, it decided to make an investment in the technology in September 2013.

“We’d been building quite a portfolio of work for charities and social housing that was going out in polywraps and we’d been using a local supplier to produce that,” says operations director David Woodcock.

“We’d built the service to a point where the cost of outsourcing was justifying the purchase of some equipment to bring polywrapping in-house.”

Resource had also recently attained ISO 27001 accreditation for information security management and it required in-house polywrapping facilities to enable it to control the data and security behind that.

The business researched the market and found the KAS machine best matched the specifications it required. Woodcock had become aware of the device through the various media and explored the machine further at North Print & Pack show in 2013.

“We needed something that could be run by at most two people and where the second person doesn’t really need to be a skilled operator but can instead be someone to help put things in and take things off. The KAS system fitted the bill perfectly for us; it fit our volume, quantities, manufacturing methods and thought processes very well,” says Woodcock.

Important to Woodcock was a 2D barcode scanning facility, which Resource required for its ISO 27001 processes. The firm became the first to purchase the system with an exit reading camera, which it needed to check that the correct documents are inserted into each pack.

“We basically put sequencing into the 2D barcode and the camera scans on exit to make sure that every individual item has been scanned and comes out at the correct sequence. If the sequence is broken at any point, then the machine will stop. It will come up with a sequence issue and the operators can check that everything’s working as it should.

“All our inserting utilises camera technology. If you’re sending mailings out and working with data and people’s personal information then everything should be 100% accurate. So we make sure we buy equipment that gives our staff the best chance of making sure everything is absolutely right.”

Woodcock reports that the longest runs the company tends to handle on the machine are around 35,000 inserts, but that the firm’s typical run length is between 8,000 and 12,000. 

The maximum pack thickness on the machine is 22mm and Resource hasn’t yet come across anything thicker that it’s not been able to do in-house.

“We’ve got hand-feed facilities on the machine as well. So although we’ve only got four automatic stations, we’ve got the option to pre-collate as many items as we want and drop those onto the end as well,” says Woodcock.

“It slows the machine down as you can only go as fast as somebody can drop whatever the items are onto the conveyor, but we have inserted seven or eight items into a polywrap using that process.”

Film options

The Mailwrap uses single-ply film from a roll. The recommended minimum thickness is 25 microns, although it can handle some films down to 16 microns depending on the quantity and weight of inserted material or magazine, and the maximum thickness is 35 microns. It can take film up to 520mm wide and the rolls are loaded via a pull-out cassette system. 

The machine folds the film around the pack leaving an overlap in the middle where the two layers are fused together by a heated semicircular bar. This bar rocks backwards and forwards to apply an even heat.

The film runs over a plate at the point of seal to protect the contents from the heated bar as it comes into contact with the film. A second heated bar then cuts the film in between each bag and provides the end seal before the completed bags are collected on a conveyor stacker.

The installation of the machine went very smoothly and it was up and running within a few weeks of the order being placed, recalls Woodcock. KAS assured Resource that any call-outs and necessary repair work would be dealt with quickly and efficiently and Woodcock says the manufacturer has been as good as its word so far. 

“We’ve hardly had any problems in the first 12 months. KAS has only been out to us a couple of times and one of those was the preventative maintenance service anyway. The Mailwrap is a very reliable machine in my opinion and we’ve not had much trouble with it.” 

Training went well, with KAS staying on-site for two days to help six of Resource’s operators get to grips with the machine. “The controls on the machine are fairly simple and it’s straightforward to run. The more complicated part is getting used to the settings to get the wrap in the right place and get things feeding through accurately,” reports Woodcock.

“It takes a little bit of experience and time to get used to, but the guys picked it up within a week or two once they’d become familiar with running it.”

Having previously been based in a 1,300m2 facility, Resource relocated to larger 2,230m2 premises last May. This extra space has enabled the business to improve its workflow, which has been crucial for it to properly accommodate and get the best out of the Mailwrap.

“When we were at our old site we had to shoehorn it in but we’ve housed it in a much better location at our new site so it’s a lot easier for operators to get in and out and get the work in and on the machine.”

Vital scans

Woodcock’s favourite thing about the machine is the camera scanner, which he stresses is extremely important. “Data is becoming far more known to the public and businesses. It’s a lot more high-profile, yet I think the camera scanner is not something that mailing houses with polywrappers have considered too seriously up to now,” he explains. 

“For me the barcode scanning was a crucial element to make sure that we had a productive machine and weren’t producing non-compliant items, so the two things go really well together.”

Overall, Woodcock has been delighted with the purchase and says there have been no problems to report since its installation. “It’s delivered everything that we’ve asked it to do and bought it for. We’ve been running it for just over a year and had no rejections from any customers, no problems with the postal system and no data issues with the camera scanning. Every single job we’ve done on the machine has gone well.”

Ultimately, the firm has found the device to be a reliable workhorse. “It’s productive and we can trust the output. There’s nothing that it can’t do that we’ve tried to do and there have been no jobs that we’ve had to turn down or pass on because the machine can’t handle them. For me it works perfectly for our mix of work,” says Woodcock.

“The operators say it’s a really good machine that they enjoy running and I love the productivity on it. Once it’s set up and it’s running well it just keeps going and going and I love the fact that it’s reliable and we don’t have any issues with it.”

Woodcock confirms that the device has already paid for itself. “We’d been spending about £70,000 a year on outsourcing at the point we bought the Mailwrap so we’ve basically paid for the machine already in what we’d have paid in outsourcing over the past year.” 

And he says that if the firm’s polywrapping volumes increase significantly, Resource would consider buying a second KAS machine or investing in an upgraded model in the future. 

“I would highly recommend it to other firms doing similar types of work. It’s a brilliant addition to a mix of equipment for any business that has mailing as an element of its portfolio of services,” he concludes. 


Max speed 6,000 packs per hour

Max number of stations Any, in pairs

Min pack thickness 200gsm

Max pack thickness 22mm

Min pack dimensions 210x148mm

Max pack dimensions 350x240mm

Price From around £60,000

Contact KAS Paper Systems 01582 662211

Company profile 

Leeds-based Resource was established as a copyshop in 1996. It bought itself out of a franchise agreement in 2003 and has continued to expand since, now offering litho and digital print, personalisation, creative design and cross-media services. Managing director Phil Thomson oversees the £4m-turnover, 44-staff business and the firm’s biggest markets include social housing and charities. The business operates a range of equipment including a five-colour Ryobi 925 SRA1 litho press, a seven-colour HP Indigo 5000 digital press, a Canon 4120 digital printer and a range of finishing kit including a Horizon bookletmaker, Stahl guillotines and folders and a Neopost DS200 mailing line with 2D barcode reading facilities.

Why it was bought…

Resource bought the KAS Mailwrap machine to enable it to bring polywrapping in-house after seeing steady growth in demand for the service from its clients. The business had previously been outsourcing the work at a cost of around £70,000 a year. It had first heard about the KAS machine in the trade press and put in an order after taking a closer look at the North Print & Pack exhibition.

How it has performed…

The machine has enabled Resource to maintain full control and accuracy over its mailwrapping process, crucial for the information security management required by clients using the service. “It’s delivered everything that we’ve asked it to do and bought it for. We’re happy with the quality and every single job we’ve done on the machine has gone well,” says operations director David Woodcock.