Fort Dearborn, a custom label and packaging company with twenty locations nationwide, reached nearly 82 million impressions on its Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106-8+L in 2020.
Printing primarily cut and stack labels, the Fort Worth location of Fort Dearborn is equipped with two Speedmaster XL 105s and one other XL 106 in addition to its world-record press, which was installed in July of 2019. The XL 106 at Fort Dearborn produced more than 2.5 times the number of annual gross impressions than the industry average of 32 million.
‘When we installed our newest XL 106, it almost doubled the horsepower of the older press we replaced. Without it, we would have never been able to keep up with the increased demand in our business during 2020,’ said Bob Zeisler, general manager of the Fort Worth plant.
In addition to the increased speeds of the press, which runs 24/7 at 18,000 sheets per hour, the XL 106 is equipped with technology such as CutStar, Heidelberg’s inline roll-to-sheet device, and Inpress Control, an inline spectrophotometer that measures and controls color and register at any speed.
Inpress Control enables swift changeovers between label jobs, and according to Zeisler, ‘No other manufacturer comes close to the accuracy and speed of Inpress Control. It’s an absolute gamechanger in our business.’
Zeisler cites the ability to meet short turnaround times as the main competitive advantage the plant has over some of its competitors and ‘without this press and our other Heidelberg presses, we would never be able to meet this challenge.’
While the technology of the press played a large role in the success of the Fort Worth plant last year, its achievements would not have been possible without the company’s overall strategy and teamwork mentality at work. When it installed its second XL 106 in 2019, less than a year after its first XL 106, Fort Dearborn developed a strategic vision for how it would allocate jobs between the two machines: shorter run, UV labels would be printed on the older press, while the plant’s long run jobs would be printed exclusively on the newer press.
‘This strategy really increased the total output of the entire facility,’ said Zeisler. ‘To be successful with it, it’s an entire team effort that starts with the scheduler. Without this plan in place, I’m not sure we would have been able to hold up to pressure of last year, let alone achieve this record accomplishment.’
In addition to achieving nearly 82 million impressions last year, Fort Dearborn reached an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of 53.85 percent on its XL 106 - compared to the industry average of 25 percent.
‘We’re a very speed and output driven plant. We’re tracking each machine on hour-by-hour charts and looking for every downtime, speed, and quality issue to apply countermeasures that eliminate or reduce the root causes. We have very exceptional, experienced crews that are constantly pushing to get materials through the machines,’ said Zeisler.