The new school year for many students won’t begin until mid to late August, but for ACCO Brands Corp. (www.accobrands.com) the back-to-school season is nearing the finish line. The Alexandria, PA operation manufactures and distributes over 100 million academic and office products annually, including different size covers for FIVE STAR® notebooks.
Wanting improved reliability for his finishing department, General Manager Jerry Rucker turned to Colter & Peterson for a 61” POLAR paper cutter with the automated Microcut® PLUS electronics system. Installed in March, the machine has performed well and met high expectations.
“Our business is highly seasonal. We need to deliver the last of the back-to-school products to our customers by July 1. That’s why we’ve been running three shifts, six days a week since February, and sometimes going 24/7,” said Rucker. He’s been with the company for 18 years and GM the last two, supervising a staff of 350 and another 50 seasonal workers during busy times like now.
The POLAR joins a pack of five independent paper cutters in the 600,000 square-foot building, not counting the two integrated cutters with automated systems ingrained in the manufacturing process. ACCO Brands has a long history with Colter & Peterson, North America’s largest independent distributor of paper cutters and paper handling equipment.
“We’ve used C&P primarily for parts and service as their technical knowledge of the industry is world class,” recalled Rucker. “Equipment reliability is key for us; you have a finite amount of time to get the work done and the cutters are in demand every day. Inventory cost is critical. Our customers wait until the last minute to place an order after deciding what color palette to choose and what type of carton they want it in.
“With the Microcut system, I was looking for higher production. It was something new to us and I’m in the process of talking to Bruce Peterson about retrofitting our other paper cutters with Microcut. We are in the midst of our capital planning process for 2018, so I’m excited to see how well it continues to perform.”
Microcut PLUS offers many advantages that can boost the productivity of new or rebuilt paper cutters by as much as 50%. The system at ACCO Brands includes a 15” wide programmable touch screen and has the ability to convert JDF files. By recalling previous cut sequences, Microcut greatly reduces set-up time and cuts multiple sheets, compared to most other machines that can only trim one sheet at a time. That’s a tremendous advantage when producing 100 million products a year.
“We are using the POLAR to cut six different variations of the FIVE STAR notebook covers,” informs Rucker. “The largest is an 11” college notebook, and the smallest is what we call a fat book with a 4” cover. We are maximizing the cutter’s lift gate with 5-6” of material, and using the lift arm to load and off-load directly from the machine.”
Rucker credits C&P’s installation team for putting his employees on the fast track to success.
“The operator adoption went very well and I’m very pleased with the easy operation of the machine. The tracking and traceable functions are very good, and there hasn’t been any output issues. The electronic controls reduce the wear and tear on the machine, especially the backgauge when it reaches a certain speed. We made some minor adjustments in order to be fully functional, but tapping into C&P’s expertise is very helpful and they’ve addressed all of our concerns.”