The group has installed an InkTec Jetrix KX6U LED 2.4x1.2m flatbed which it has linked to its existing KM627 cutting table from AG/CAD via the latest Kasemake 12 workflow to enable the Lab to produce real world printed prototypes for same-day client sign-offs.
The 28sqm/hr flatbed runs six channels for CMYK plus either double hit white or optional varnish or primer.
As well as the new printer, the group has also installed material compression and crush testing equipment from TechLab Systems at the 195sqm Milton Keynes facility. All the new kit was commissioned at the end of June.
"The Innovation Lab is a fully immersive experience and, with social distancing measures in place, it gives our customers the opportunity to safely step away from their usual environment to focus on reducing operational costs and enhance their customer experience with the least environmental impact,” said Richard Garratt, Innovation Lab technical design manager.
The Innovation Lab was opened in 2016 and while it was designed to allow customers to come on site and see their prototypes being produced in real time to allow for on-the-fly adjustments, it also had a full video conferencing suite to enable remote approvals and product developments. As a result, it continued to operate though lockdown.
However, following the kit upgrade a number of social distancing measures were put in place and since the 6 July the facility has been open to and used by customers to help reduce what Macfarlane has dubbed the ‘significant six’: Storage costs; transport costs; damages and returns; administration cost; productivity costs; and poor customer experience.
“Since we launched the Innovation Lab four years ago, we have helped many customers to fully understand the total cost of their packaging by providing one environment to interact with packaging and explore its impact on their operations using our Significant Six methodology,” said Donna Lynch, sales & marketing director.
“Technology changes rapidly and this investment in the latest equipment allows us to ensure that customers can maximise their time with us and arrive at their packaging solution even faster.”
To further help customers, the group has also launched its fifth annual “unboxing” research project, which surveys online consumers to help online retailers adapt to changing behaviour and buying habits.
The survey can be completed via the Macfarlane website.
Earlier this month the circa 1,000 staff Group promised to repay around £1.3m in furlough cash it had received from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme after reporting better than expected sales through lockdown.