As recently as 2013, sales of board games and jigsaw puzzles were heading in the wrong direction. The reason? The rise of mainstream smartphone and tablet use encroaching on family time. But an influx of new games and interest generated by millennial consumers has revived the time honored tradition. That good news benefits Holyoke, Mass. manufacturer Edaron Inc., which installed its first-ever new paper cutter earlier this month when Colter & Peterson delivered a 54” SABER® machine with Microcut®.
Edaron project manager Bob Shevlin said the company is a turnkey subcontractor that services major accounts. Those accounts are responsible for handling all licensing and artwork requirements and Edaron handles the rest, from printing and conversion to shipping to distribution centers throughout North America. Their work can be seen on game shelves at Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us and other major retailers.
“We procure and laminate the puzzle images to the chipboard, then use the guillotine knives to cut the printed material and prepare it for converting,” said Shevlin, who has worked at the company for 20 years. “We produce millions of puzzles every year, and many are packaged 5-in-1 and 10-in-1 products.”
The game industry revival is par for the course for both Edaron, a 41-year-old company, and its home city. Holyoke is a former mill town that in its heyday, once had 26 paper mills feeding off the Connecticut River. Licensing of core brand classic board games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Clue, plus newer games like Disney Frozen and independent board games that have attracted the millennial generation, has spurred the revival that is keeping Edaron’s staff of 150 employees busy. It also signaled time for a cutting department upgrade.
“Our guillotine knives were becoming outdated so we did some research on new knives. I got quotes from several companies but Colter & Peterson (www.papercutters.com) was really the only company that was selling knives and providing the services we needed,” recalled Shevlin.
“We had four paper cutters at the time, but after speaking with C&P’s Sean Solomon, we scrapped two of them. We bought the SABER and still have a 54” Polar and 52” Lawson. All three of them are serviced by Colter & Peterson, and they did preventive maintenance and updated several things on the other two when the SABER was installed on April 3.”
They chose the right new paper cutter. The SABER has a workhorse reputation, delivering highly precise cuts and having the ability to cut several inches of difficult substrates and materials at a time. The computerized Microcut® PLUS system has a 15” programmable touch screen with CIP3 and CIP4 file capability. The automated process guides the back gauge knife into position and memorizes cutting sequences for future use. All told, it often leads to productivity increases.
“It’s too early to tell but the SABER is already saving a good amount of time with the work it is cutting. It is a very sturdy machine, the draw is excellent and with the double arm action, we load 5 or 6 inches of material at a time to cut. Our goal is to increase productivity by 25-30%,” acknowledged Shevlin.
“I evaluate equipment by specs and put together a spreadsheet for comparison purposes. For example, the Microcut screen is 15” and the other competitors were only 8-10”. I also liked that we can change the cutting pressure. The software allows you to compensate on the left side, right side or both, so it saves time. The older guillotines could not do this.
“The software also tells you step-by-step how to change out the knives and self-balance it, too,” he continued. “As our staff becomes more familiar with it, they have gained more confidence. With the Microcut programs, we get more definition. It has alpha numeric programs so we can change sheet size for a job, create a new program for every sheet size and assign a number to it for future use. We couldn’t do this with the older machines. Every time I walk by the SABER cutter, the operators are talking about something new they are doing with it.”
Shevlin’s analytics revealed other findings. Edaron uses the SABER to cut 70 or 80 lb. printed litho paper, and its double arm action has led to other time saving measures. That’s a good thing since they currently run five days a week with two shifts. Peak season at the 100,000 square-foot facility begins in late July or early August as activity ramps up for the retail holiday season. It requires a 6-day work week with extended second shifts before slowing down in early December.
“We never had a machine with double arm capability or the maximum clamping pressure it has. I also like its cutting depth, and no other manufacturer we considered had it or the clamping pressure,” admitted Shevlin. “The SABER’s width is 54” but it’s also 58” deep. With our older cutters we had to make an extra cut, but the SABER has eliminated that step from the process.”