· New Rapida 106 41-inch press provides footprint to support continued growth
· Expecting a 20% overall improvement in OEE on this new machine
· Retail-based packaging customers require shelf appeal with bold graphics
As one of the most important market players in the global food service and custom packaging segments, Southern Champion Tray, headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, relishes its status as a dominant force in the production and distribution of paperboard packaging products for the bakery, food service and custom retail markets. One of its most important divisions sits further south in Mansfield, TX, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. This 90 year old, third generation packaging printer with approximately 700 employees throughout its entire company, has been making significant investments at its 120-employee Mansfield site. In the past 24 months it has increased the facility with an additional 25,000 sq ft and completed an office renovation. New equipment, such as a paperboard sheeter, die cutter, LED-UV curing to lift the level of its graphics, scrap reclamation system, and digital printing systems, has been added. Why the infusion of capital? The investments align with the growing Dallas/Fort Worth market and more importantly, is a vote of confidence toward the firm’s highly devoted and talented staff based in the Mansfield operation. Plus, the Mansfield plant supplies cartons to multiple states in the Southwest region of the U.S., and even transfers product to the Chattanooga, Tennesse area for national distribution.
With the foodservice packaging market growing at a very rapid pace, management saw fit to add another key piece of equipment. Its pressroom has recently seen the installation of a new towering iconic blue Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 41-inch seven-color press. This new multi-million dollar investment is being located next to another Rapida 106 seven-color press that was installed several years ago.
“Our Mansfield operation is a fast-paced manufacturing environment that has to address all of the evolving trends in our market,” says Brian Hunt, SCT’s COO. “Our customers are demanding higher-end graphics, shorter run quantities, and faster turnaround. We’ve solved these demands by ensuring that our new Rapida 106 is running at its maximum press capabilities to print our cartons and improving make-ready speeds---all of which are game changers. The new Koenig & Bauer ColorTronic ink control system has made a big difference in reducing our make-ready times. Our new digital printing system is a great solution for small volume items and matches well with the capabilities of our Rapida 106. We are quite confident that we can handle all of the demands requested by our customers in the area of folding cartons.”
While SCT has dominated the food paperboard packaging market, it is seeing fast growth in many other end-use segments including nutraceuticals and pet pharmaceuticals. Consumers are also increasingly shopping for organics and supplements. To set themselves apart on the store shelf, manufacturers are turning to bold colorful graphics to entice the consumer’s eye. For example, says SCT, it is running strike-thru varnish to increase impact at the retail shelf. To respond to the ever changing needs of the retail consumer, manufacturers are asking SCT for shorter run lengths and quicker turnaround.. SCT has also broadened its capabilities to further expand warehousing of its customer’s packaging.
The new press brings a host of new automated features that add speed and efficiency to SCT’s output, according to John Simpson, SCT’s general manager of the Mansfield facility. The Rapida 106’s color management system is adding value in consistency and getting up to color much faster, he says. Sheet delivery is also much improved allowing for higher machine speeds. Pressmen are impressed with its operator consoles allowing them to be much more efficient and effective.
“We expect a 20% overall improvement in OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) on this new machine,” says Simpson. “There’s no doubt that this machine runs well at rated speed. We intend to take full advantage of this improved efficiency and tout its unique features to our customers. Internally, we’ll be seeing improved efficiency in make-ready and run speeds that will improve our cost competitiveness.”
When SCT determined that it needed another new press, part of its calculation was to keep its Mansfield plant humming without interruption. “One of the hallmark attributes of KBA North America is its service mindset,” says Hunt. “In the fast-paced business of supplying packaging to food manufacturers, we cannot afford to be without a printing press. The entire KBA North America Company understands that mindset and is focused on keeping us operational.”
Adds Hunt, “As in any competitive business, one must evaluate all suppliers to understand innovations in technology and/or features and benefits that could be of value in an ever-changing business environment. We have had an outstanding relationship with KBA North America and already have two other of its presses in our converting system. In this case, having a Rapida 106 in operation made us more inclined to pursue a new Koenig & Bauer press.”
Although SCT has celebrated more than nine decades in business, it continues to set new goals for the future. “Our customers identify SCT as having best-in-class service,” says John Zeiser, president and CEO of Southern Champion Tray. “With the advent of E-commerce and the speed desired by consumers, we are continually challenging our leadership team. To respond, we are continually investing in our employees, capital equipment, and facilities to ensure that we are always exceeding our customer’s expectations.”
Established in 1927, Southern Champion Tray is a third-generation family-owned business producing a wide variety of folding cartons used throughout the continental United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. A team of over 400 employees are based in the firm’s converting plants in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Mansfield, Texas. The company serves a broad base of markets, including bakery, foodservice, supermarket, institutional, industrial, retail, computers and electronics, personal care, hardware, automotive, medical, office supply, pet supplies, toys, textiles, and sporting goods. Its advanced sheetfed lithographic and flexographic web presses in six- and seven-color configurations along with converting capabilities such as slitting, sheeting, die cutting, gluing, windowing, clamshell, and tray forming provide a wide array of products for its customers.