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  • 08 Sep 2012

Colbert Packaging chooses CPS folding carton press

Colbert Packaging selects CPS press to increase folding carton production capacity and improve turn around times as the market shifts, writes Danielle Jerschefske.
Headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, Colbert Packaging is an established manufacturer of folding cartons, rigid paper boxes and paperboard specialty products with three manufacturing plants in the Midwest.
It operates two sites in Illinois and one in Indiana, and was founded in 1959 when Charles Colbert purchased the property and assets of Kroeck Paper Box, a Chicago company founded in 1892.
In the Illinois plants, a majority of the business caters to the healthcare market. This market includes: ethical and generic medicines, over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals and diabetes care products. With a diverse packaging platform, including narrow web label production, the converter also produces high-end custom work for major brands in the pharmaceutical, as well as the health and beauty marketplace.
In 1999 the second of the Illinois-based plants was opened as Colbert Flexographic Packaging for folding carton and label production, investing in two 20in (508mm) 4150 Mark Andy presses within a year. Most recently, in February 2012, Colbert installed a Canadian Primoflex Systems (CPS) CP 585 hybrid servo and mechanical in-line press. Brad Davis, general manager of Colbert Flexographic Packaging says: ‘Increased competition and smaller margins have forced our company to carve out a niche. Our focus is to remain lean and flexible.
We have found that we’re able to complete the manufacturing process faster and with less labor using in-line flexographic production and its ability to produce more with less.’
Capital Investment
The new nine-color 23in (584mm) CP 585 is a hybrid servo and mechanical press that can print four-color process work on both sides of the web, is equipped for both water-based and UV, cold foiling and embossing hitting speeds up to 500ft/ min. To maintain consistency in tooling for its in-house finishing systems, the converter selected to invest in a Kempsmith flatbed die cutter.
‘The CPS is engineered to be a solid machine dedicated to manufacturing high-end folding cartons,’ Davis explains. ‘And the unique CPS web tension and computer print registration system takes production to another level. We didn’t want a press that can do everything. We are a folding carton company very focused on what we do best. We’re not looking to print 24pt board and then shift to a thin flexible substrate.
Not every carton is a good flexographic fit. In the past the main differentiator between offset and flexo has been based on print capability, especially in process and screen printing.
Improvements in the CPS press, pre-press and flexographic plate technology have narrowed this gap significantly. Colbert has the added advantage of a full complement of sheet-fed offset equipment. Each carton can be individually reviewed and then placed in the production process in which it fits best.
The triangular CPS printhead design allows for rapid color changing and requires minimal set-up time to produce saleable work. Davis continues: ‘Run lengths are going down as brands move from a single flavor to variations and more frequent turns on copy. The sheer number of SKUs is unbelievable.’
Colbert is cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) compliant, an FDA process standards system specific to drug manufacturing and related suppliers. It uses a specially designed Nordson (Bobst) glue detection system to insure that cartons produced with the same size and style yet different dosage requirements are labeled, packed and shipped accurately.
The converter is unique in its selection of the CP hybrid series press. Most converters believe direct driven servo is the ultimate answer to print consistency. However, Mark Friedrich, president of CPS, says:
‘Having a partially mechanical press with an extremely stiff drive line results in superb web transport control and thus very accurate registration. Our CP series press is able to consistently hold a print to print registration of +/- 0.003in. This accuracy matches our full servo LP series machine, but offers customers a more economical equipment option without sacrificing quality.’
Design/supply chain
Colbert works closely with its clients’ art directors, in-house pre-press technicians and recognized pre-press suppliers to deliver quality jobs. On a global scale, it’s not easy to assist brands in matching graphics across print processes, multiple ink/coating possibilities and material options. For this reason clients typically specify virgin paper material to improve consistency.
Colbert is heavily involved with creating the packaging container design. Ideally, at the beginning of the sales cycle, the process often includes structural designers and packaging engineers. These are the people that understand the functional requirements, filling lines and market development processes of a project. They expertly advise clients on what design elements need to be included so that a carton meets all needs and effectively makes it through the value chain. Something as simple as a perforation must be able to last through the supply chain and distribution, yet clients often want the container to tear cleanly and act as a pop out display on shelf when used as a POS in retail.
‘This system creates idea generation and innovation,' says Davis. 'We know the rigors of shipping to various global locations, and as an industry we need to be more global in outlook. Yet in terms of service, it's all about location and timing. The cartons have to be on site and ready to run when the customers’ filling lines start up.’
Labels and digital printing
In addition to the three folding carton presses, Colbert is using Mark Andy 2200s to produce labels, which is about 10 percent of the business. Davis tells how the company incorporated label production into the portfolio, ‘We had the healthcare business that required labels in many cases, so we decided to free up the purchasing agents and make our business turnkey.’
While Davis feels that digital print technology on the label side is commercially viable today, when it comes to machinery for folding cartons, he says the performance is not yet where the company feels it needs to be.’
Catering for the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketplaces requires a strong commitment to research and development.
Special functional requirements are commonplace, like child resistant, senior friendly and compliance packaging. Colbert is also involved with incorporating new overt and covert anti-counterfeiting features. Website verification through a printed code is on the horizon. Davis says: ‘We have not seen smart and interactive features happen as quickly on the carton side as they have in the publishing and commercial print sectors.
But what’s been leading edge in commercial, labels and cartons will follow, particularly as more regulations are coming through from government. There’s only so much space on a package.’
With the CPS CP series press, Colbert Packaging is poised to effectively tackle shorter run lengths in the folding carton market, while maintaining manufacturing integrity and profitable production. Coupled with its expert consultation, this will help the company to continue finding growth in a highly competitive market.
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