At the beginning, Corrugated Case Company chose not to specialise, so it could produce the widest possible portfolio of jobs and hone its customer service.
That was in 1997, when owner Tony Hession started the business on a greenfield site in Derbyshire with an investment of £400,000.
CCC has grown to be a high-profile supplier of corrugated packaging in small- to medium-volume markets. But last year’s 20th anniversary marked a change in emphasis, with a major investment in a new piece of equipment. The company, offering a full range of box styles and special designs or applications to meet demand for complex styles, wanted to target specific markets.
Managing director Mark Wilcockson explains: “Over the years we have amassed an impressive array of machines, but the one piece of kit we’ve never had before is a multi-point gluer. This sector is changing and most things are now geared towards mail order – several clients are launching into what has become a boom sector. But without a multi-point gluer there were large areas of the market we could not access.”
This was bad for a company keen to expand. The 43-staff business in Chesterfield has a £7m turnover, which represents the conversion of around 13 million square metres of corrugated board. It was also keen to start specifically targeting the food sector, having gained BRC-accreditation for secondary food packaging two years ago.
A multi-point gluer would enable CCC to take advantage of the accreditation and keep the expansion curve moving in the right direction. The new machine would join three printer plotters including a 3.6m-wide Topra, a two-colour 2.4m TCY, and a two-colour 1.8m model, as well as die-cutters. The new investment was a large-format, 2.3m-wide, Duran Omega Magnus 230.
And it was the first of this new model to come to the UK, which prior to purchase presented a problem. How could Wilcockson and his team see it? Apart from a couple of older Duran models in Scotland, the nearest newer version was at Venture Packaging in Dublin, which is where Wilcockson went with UK agent Friedheim in autumn 2016.
“We didn’t do a test, as the operators loved the machine and the firm had ordered a second one, which gave me confidence,” recalls Wilcockson, who considered rival devices from Bobst and Vega. The Duran however was well engineered and represented better value for money, he calculated, especially as the model CCC went for was a show machine and was therefore severely discounted.
Nevertheless the Omega Magnus 230 set him back a six-figure sum and is the largest folder-gluer in a range available in 170, 210 and 230 sizes. The kit, with a belt speed of up to 300m/min on card thicknesses up to double wall, is capable of straightline, crashlock and four- and six-corner styles, and is a sturdy beast with 30mm solid steel side frames.
“As soon as you look at the machine you can see the value engineering. On some equipment, it’s hard to detect, but with this one you can see it on every motor, wheel and arm. Because of its size, just over 21m, the Magnus is fitted with a colour monitor at the feeder to enable users to observe the far-off delivery. There is also a separate control panel at the delivery, and these features ease use.”
All of this was delivered in three crates in late May 2017. The Omega Magnus 230 was in addition to the existing kit and is a big, powerful machine weighing around two tonnes. Wilcockson had to shift four other other machines, change the work flow in the factory, and realign the handling side of the business. Installation took over two weeks – longer than expected.
This was because such models usually come in two boxes. Packing into three, however, meant Duran engineers had dismantled the kit more thoroughly, making reassembly longer. Craning the hefty pieces of equipment out of their respective containers, furthermore, was also a problem as there was so little room in the boxes to grip and then hoist components.
These include a feeder with extendable rack for oversize blanks, a vacuum-transfer system with dual-feed gates and extra pile supports to ensure accurate feeding. Designed specifically for heavy boards, the Magnus 230 has pre-fold and final-fold sections that include pneumatically controlled and independently driven upper carriers, a long final fold unit and motorised adjustment throughout.
However, Mark Wilcockson was insistent the new arrival complied with British safety standards, as several sections of the new machine had to be fenced off. Within 10 days Duran, who he says were brilliant throughout installation, had paid for and shipped thousands of pounds worth of guards.
Training was also an issue: “Inevitably such sizeable, complex machinery has a learning curve because there are so many moving and interchangeable parts.
“Before we bought it, we produced straightline styles only, so the ability to handle four- and six-corner work increased the learning curve. Training took us about five weeks and we headhunted an experienced operator to help us. We didn’t understand the complexity and I would recommend hiring an experienced user to train your team.”
CCC’s Duran Omega Magnus 230 takes standard-produced die-cut blanks and can operate at around 300-600m/min, folding and gluing the blanks into their finished form using anything up to six spots of glue. This enables the machine to glue a wide range of box styles recognised by the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers.
The feeder has an extendable rack for oversize blanks and is designed specifically for heavy boards. Sections include pre- and final-fold zones, pneumatically controlled carriers and motorised adjustment. Fast speeds and heavy automation has seen makeready times “tumble”, making jobs easier and quicker to process.
“Makeready for a complex job used to take one and half hours, but we can change jobs and format on the Magnus in less than 45 minutes now. For a machine of this size, that is excellent but we know we can still improve. As well as mail order and food, new markets for development include agriculture and horticulture and fashion.”
Though the build quality is good, Mark Wilcockson flagged up a couple of parts that were “a bit under-engineered”, which Duran replaced with heavier grade steel. Drive belts meanwhile were too dry, making bits ‘flake off’. At £2,000 a pop, replacing a belt is costly, especially when you factor in engineers’ fees of about £600 a day. Duran didn’t quibble and replaced the belt within days.
Mark Wilcockson reckons his Duran Omega Magnus 230 is currently running at 65%-70% capacity and started working the machine on a single shift five days a week. There is, he stresses, plenty of scope for growth: “We have never been busier and earlier this year we moved to a double-day shift pattern. This allows us to grow our own accounts and attract more trade work because of the large-format capability of the Magnus.”
He adds: “The new machine has given us credibility with current clients because they can see we have made big investment in up-to-date equipment. It has opened up new markets. And it does pretty much everything we wanted. When it comes to corrugated board, there’s not much the Duran cannot do.”
Substrates 300–700gsm cardboard, N, F, E, B, C, EB and EC flute corrugated
Weight 26 tonnes
Touchscreen 10.5in LCD
Cost List prices start from £370,000 depending on specifications and the modules
Contact Friedheim 01442 206100 www.friedheim.co.uk
Corrugated Case Company is an independent cardboard box manufacturer specialising in the design and manufacture of corrugated cardboard and fibreboard transit packaging and promotional material. The 43-staff company makes £7m turnover and is based in Danesmoor, Chesterfield.
Why it was bought…
The company wanted to move into new sectors such as mail order and food, but the lack of a multi-point gluing machine made it hard to enter large parts of these markets.
How it has performed…
“The Duran Omega Magnus 230 does pretty much everything we wanted,” says managing director Mark Mark Wilcockson. “When it comes to corrugated board, there’s not much the machine cannot do – it’s capable of straightline, crashlock and four- and six-corner styles.”