Me & my: Edale FL3

Simon Creasey
Friday, January 17, 2020

In 1996, Martin Jackson purchased a Mark Andy three-colour flexo press for his fledgling Bristol-based self-adhesive labels business Kingfisher Labels. Fast forward 24 years and today the business Jackson founded is one of the UK’s market leading self-adhesive label printers.

Watts (left) and production director Karl Jackson with the newest Edales
Watts (left) and production director Karl Jackson with the newest Edales

Over the intervening years under managing director Jackson’s stewardship the company has continued to invest in the latest of equipment from different manufacturers. But one supplier in particular has pride of place in the company’s 1,000sqm state-of-the-art site in Yate, into which it moved in 2015.

Late in 2018 Kingfisher bought an Edale FL3 eight-colour flexo press – its seventh Edale press in total. However, its appetite wasn’t sated. In April last year, the company took delivery of an Edale FL3 six-colour press to add to its existing armoury as part of a £1m investment programme into machinery, infrastructure and people.

When the company decided to splash the cash on another new machine it was never really in doubt which manufacturer they would turn to, according to sales director Andy Watts, who joined Kingfisher in 2013.

“We work very closely with Edale and we keep in regular contact with them in terms of what’s available to the market and what’s coming up,” says Watts. “We were really impressed with the eight-colour and we just thought the six-colour Edale presented a great opportunity.”

He concedes that not many businesses would usually go out and spend what Kingfisher has on two brand new presses in a short period of time.

“However, it shows our commitment to our customers and the demand we are experiencing,” says Watts. “We have grown quite significantly over the last two to three years and we continue to grow. Part of the reason we have grown is we are very flexible and adaptable.”

As well as meeting growing customer demand one of the key reasons the company purchased the six-colour machine was because of the flexibility it afforded.

“It’s all interchangeable,” explains Watts, referring to the raft of Edale presses it can now call on. “We don’t have one machine that’s going to be tied up for weeks. That’s the benefit of it. Also our staff are au fait with the different machinery so we can get them to move from machine to machine.”

The company already had an existing six-colour Edale Beta, but that was only 250mm wide, whereas the latest addition is 350mm wide, as is the eight-colour device acquired last year.

“So the two new presses can obviously run much more efficiently as we can get much more across the web width,” says Watts.

He admits that Kingfisher did look at machines offered by other manufacturers, but won’t reveal specific makes and models.

“We looked at other presses before we bought the eight-colour, but we always came back to Edale. That’s because of the working relationship we have with them, the fact we know them and the fact that we know the machinery so well and that we were very confident that it would do what we required.”

Installation of the new six-colour press was “quick and smooth” thanks partly to the company moving into that aforementioned new factory back in 2015.

“We had to move things around and change things up a little, but we had the foresight to move into a factory that was three to four times bigger than the previous facility with the continued growth and expansion of the company in mind,” says Watts.

Unlike some of the older Edale presses Kingfisher owns the latest incarnation is much more automated and features functions like auto register.

“One of the printers commented to me that it’s a lot easier to use than what he used to run and that’s no disrespect to our other machines,” says Watts. “It’s just that they’re much more mechanical, whereas with things like auto register, if it goes out of register it automatically brings it back into register.”

With a mechanical speed ranging from 5-200m/min, the Edale FL3 comes with a turn bar system, delam/relam capabilities and chill rolls and can handle substrates from 12 to 450 microns thick.

Watts says the company is also getting “much, much better quality” out of the new machine, which he says has been “fantastic” since installation. “For a sales person like myself it opens up so many avenues and doors for me to explore and it gives me a greater portfolio of products to go after,” he explains. “We can even go after different types of packaging now. We can do sachets on the press so there is a new opportunity for us there. We can also do clear on clear, so a clear face label and a clear backing paper.”

Smooth operator

Given how keen he is to sing the praises of the new press it doesn’t come as a surprise to discover that he doesn’t have a bad word to say about it. “It’s been such a smooth transition; it’s been absolutely brilliant.”

He says Edale worked hard to ensure the transition went well with staff members offered a week or so worth of training on the new machine, after which point they were “very self-sufficient”. On the rare occasion the company has had to call on Edale for support Watts says they have been quick to resolve any minor issues.

“That was a fundamental factor for us. They are a UK-based organisation so we can pick up the phone and they can resolve any issues over the phone within a few minutes or they can tap into the machine [remotely] via a PC and look at any issues we might have.”

One issue the company doesn’t have is feeding the new machine. Watts says the addition of the new eight-colour and six-colour Edale presses have “hugely boosted” Kingfisher’s turnover.

“The best thing from my point of view is that it has opened up so many more different avenues for us. So we have got the opportunity now to go to existing customers and say ‘we can also supply this. Would you like to see any samples’?”

Given the benefits the Edale has given the company he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other printers, although another would be surplus to his own requirements: “Would we need another is a different question.”

While the firm is happy with its printing setup for now, Watts says Kingfisher is always looking to invest in updating its existing machinery as well as investing in the company’s workforce. And given that the label printer is finding business “buoyant” at the moment and is on track to post a record financial year according to Watts, don’t bet against the company chequebook being wielded again soon.


SPECIFICATIONS

Substrate range 12-450 microns

Speed 5-200m/min

Web width 350mm/430mm

Print width 340mm/420mml

Tension range 10-500N

Max roll capacity unwind/rewind 1,000mm

Standard unwind/rewind core diameters 76mm

Price Around £400,000

Contact Edale 01489 569230 www.edale.com


COMPANY PROFILE

Kingfisher Labels was founded in 1996 by managing director Martin Jackson. The company grew so fast that in 2001 it moved to a new larger factory in Yate, Bristol. Thanks to another sustained period of growth, driven by Jackson’s son Karl and sales director Andy Watts, the company moved to even larger premises in 2015. Today, Kingfisher employs 22 people has an annual turnover in the region of £1.5m. The company is on track to record its best ever annual financial performance this year, according to Watts. The business produces a lot of self-adhesive label work for multinational business that operate in the food, cosmetics and healthcare sector. Kingfisher bought its first Edale press in 2001 and has continued to invest in machinery produced by the UK manufacturer ever since.

Why it was bought...

Kingfisher wanted greater flexibility so that it could handle growing customer demand. The eight-colour Edale FL3 it bought last year was a tremendous success, according to Watts. It was thought the addition of a six-colour machine would significantly boost the company’s press line up.

How has it performed...

“It’s been absolutely brilliant for us,” says Watts. As well as allowing Kingfisher to offer customer’s new products, Watts says the quality achieved on the new machine has been top notch.

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