London-based Delta Group has invested in a new large-format collating machine, a Smart Collator from Col-Tec. The machine was installed earlier this week.
The 62x42in (1,575x1,067mm) device is the sixth Smart Collator the UK-based manufacturer has sold and is equipped with Col-Tec's Intelligent Data Collating (IDC) application. Unlike typical collating applications, where the collated set is repeated numerous times, Col-Tec said IDC allows for many different patterns and combinations of sets to follow each other.
For example, a POS promotion pack for a major fast food chain could cover thousands of its food outlets all wanting different sets.
As each outlet’s requirements are collated, a label and/or dispatch note can be printed and added to the collated set or sets, ready for packaging and dispatch.
Col-Tec said no two collated sets need to be the same and that the Smart Collator interprets job data sheets and collates the required number of sets for each store without interruption.
The prototype for the Smart Collator concept was first launched at Ipex last year and all six machines have been installed in the past 12 months. Other companies that have purchased the machine include Mansfield-based Linney Group and a number of overseas printers.
Col-Tec sales director Paul Bailey said: “Collators have traditionally always been collating the same thing. For example calendars collate the 12 months and the front and back cover. You set the machine up and it collates perhaps a million of the same thing.
“The Smart Collator concept, which applies particularly to the POS and mail fulfilment market, is for companies that might only want to collate 10 of the same thing or want to collate one set that’s changed to a different make-up.
“IDC links into the customer’s data sheet. A big blue-chip company would have the data for which each of its individual stores requires, IDC taps into that and the collator then takes its demands from the data sheets that are on the client’s computers.”
Bailey added that it was previously inefficient to set up a lot of collations that needed to be done in small quantities.
He said: “A lot of large companies were employing huge numbers of temporary labour to collate lots of sets, but in small amounts. There was too much setup required for a typical automatic collator so this machine has found a gap in the market.”
Bailey said the Smart Collator is “virtually unlimited” in the type of substrates it can handle, with the potential for collation of stocks ranging from tissue paper up to corrugated board.
He added that the 62x42 inch collator can operate at speeds of up to 1,000 sets per hour. Smaller format collators available from the company that can also be specified with the IDC application can operate at speeds of up to 5,000 sets per hour, depending on the number of feeders, size and maximum format of the machine.
Pricing for the made-to-order suction feed machines can range from around £40,000 to more than £250,000 while the lead-time can be anything from around eight weeks to six months, both depending on the specification of the device and the number of feeders required.
Col-Tec has a turnover of £1.5m, heading towards £2m in the current financial year, and 24 staff. The business operates from recently expanded 975sqm premises.