Kingston Carton continues 'future proof' spend with twin Bobst install

Simon Nias
Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kingston Carton is researching the final element of a major equipment overhaul that has already seen it invest £5m in plant and machinery in the past three years, including two new Bobst machines installed earlier this year.

The upgrade began in 2011 when the East Yorkshire-based independent carton converter ordered its second Roland 706LV - the first in the UK to feature the Direct Drive technology.

Since then, Kingston has also upgraded its storage and logistics operation to include an extra 2,000 pallet finished goods warehouse, and replaced two old Crossland die-cutters and an International Speedking folder-gluer with the recent double Bobst install.

The Bobst machines, installed in January, include a Bobst Visioncut 106LE die-cutter with optical lateral register system and an Expertfold 110 multipurpose folder-gluer.

These join an existing Visioncut 106LE and SP 102-E II on the cutting side and another Expertfold 110 and a Domino 110 and Media 100 on the folding and gluing front.

Alan Smith, production manager at Kingston Carton, said: “We had to up our game in finishing and converting due to the investment we had made on the two Roland presses.”

The final component, which Smith said was currently being researched, is another cutting and creasing investment designed to “future proof the business”.

“We’ve got the backing of the board to go ahead but no decision has been made yet – at the moment we’re just exploring what’s available [but one of the things] we are considering is blanking, which could be in the region of £1.5m.”

David Wilson, chairman of Kingston Carton, said: “The economy in general is picking up, especially here in the UK, which is reflected in our order book. Our ethos has always been to invest in new capacity before we need it, so that we can ensure continuity of supply to our customers.

“However, we wanted to do more than that with this investment and use it to develop markets that are new to us. Very high-volume work takes up a lot of machine time and, historically, we have chosen not to take it on because it could compromise service levels to our existing customers.

"But now that capacity has increased so dramatically we can easily handle that sort of work without any knock-on effects.”

Smith said that the addition of the two new Bobst machines and the firm’s second Roland 706 had increased overall capacity by around 40% and enabled it to win a large volume contract of the sort it would previously have avoided.

“We secured a three-year contract around the beginning of the year with an independent company that we wouldn’t have gone for previously. It involves lots of different lines and different cut profiles and it’s a large volume of work every month,” said Smith.

“We also have a very big contract with a company that makes cake-making and icing equipment and every time a show like The Great British Bake Off is on we see a surge in orders. But with the investment we’ve made on the production side and in our warehousing and logistics facility we can manufacture large volumes very quickly and we can also store finished products for them to call off as they need them.”

Kingston is also in the process of recruiting two new apprentices to start in September. “We take on two apprentices every year and train them up to NVQ level 3 - we like to do it the old-style way, with lots and lots of in-house training as well as education with the BPIF before we let them loose as a fully-fledged cutter/creasing operator and printers,” said Smith.

The apprentices will initially train on the firm’s older Bobst SP-102 and Bobst Media, before graduating to the newer machines. “We train them on the older machines, which have less automation, because we take the view that once you know the basics, everything is easier,” explained Smith.

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