It began modestly, with boxes. Then, very quickly, Shippers Supply founder Ron Brown recognized that people buying boxes also needed tape, hand trucks to move them, shelving to store them, and especially labels.
Graphics Department Manager Blake Pompu says the label division of the company has become increasingly important, spanning from simple “Ship To” labels to those for high-end consumer products. Yet, as the company grew and volume increased, older equipment on the shop floor was unable to keep pace with demand.
“It was getting more and more difficult each year to find replacement parts for our plate-making equipment“, relates Pompu. “Some days, the plates we produced were less than optimal quality, with washout and exposure being inconsistent.”
A Time Sink
The old machinery was also eating up valuable time during weekly cleanup. “We used Fridays, especially the afternoons, for cleanup,” says Pompu. “It would take several hours to drain the water, clean the brushes, and scrub out the wash tank.”
These conditions posed a significant barrier to the growing operation because that time could have been better used for billable work. Knowing there had to be a better way, Pompu began looking for plate making options and a filtration system that would remove the waste polymers from the water wash system. “I didn’t want even a little bit of that stuff going down the drain.”
“When he saw our old plate making system, he recommended the Orbital X platemaker as well,” recalls Pompu.
“Shippers Supply was already using Cosmolight® plate material, so it was very straightforward for us to bring their plate making process into the 21st century,” said Sawa. “Not only does our technology improve the quality of their plates, but we have also been able to help increase their capacity so they can be more productive, which is always one of our primary goals.”
Handling polymer residue, (Pompu’s initial concern), is the Whirl-A-Way CL-50‘s strength, which removes the residue while extending the life of washout solutions. Using centrifugal force to separate suspended polymer solids from water and flexo washout solutions, the Whirl A Way collects solids in a disposable plastic bag while the cleaned washout solution is re-circulated back into the system for reuse. As a result, Blake Pompu and his team reclaimed Fridays, and Shippers Supply gained new production time.
“Whirl A Way keeps the entire system just amazingly clean and has reduced our weekly maintenance from ten to fifteen hours per week to only about two hours,” says Pompu. “The system looks cleaner after months of use than our old system did after only a day. It has also been a huge improvement for employees. Waste polymers are a sticky mess. They get on your skin and clothes and are difficult to remove. The Whirl A Way just makes everyone’s work lives better.”
Plate processing is now handled by the Orbital X multi-function plate processor. Available in two sizes, it accommodates water-wash plates up to 12″x 18″ and 25″ x 30″. Designed to fit into the often-crowded confines of pre-press operations, it is versatile and easy to use, featuring a stack-style processor with an orbital washout, exposure section, a three-drawer dryer, and optional de-tack section. Components are easily accessed from the front. A stainless-steel washout section helps prevent corrosion while a dual orbital-action platen makes washout more efficient. Digital timers help monitor accurate washout and exposure times, and a thermostat-controlled three-drawer dryer uses forced hot air for efficient plate drying.
“Orbital X is better in every way, but the biggest thing is how it has reduced our plate cost. There’s less waste in the material and process which significantly impacts our bottom line.”
For Shippers Supply, installing the two machines was a winning combination.
“A&V has gotten us out of more than one jam with great service and quick deliveries,” adds Pompu. “Having the technicians available to service their equipment keeps us running so we can focus our attention on quality and growth instead of fixing and cleaning.
To learn how A&V Canada can make a difference in your operation, call our Canadian office at 1-888-832-1600