The plastics industry is experiencing tremendous growth and K&R Plastics (www.krplastic.com) in Austin, TX is part of the movement. The family owned and operated firm decided to replace an older paper cutter with a machine that’s faster, more productive, offers incredibly precise accuracy and yields key data for more informed decisions.
After four months of results, company officials are extremely pleased with the performance and results the new Colter & Peterson SABER® XXL is producing. The 65-inch beast was installed in May with a PRISM® unloader and Microcut® PLUS electronics.
“There are many things we like about the SABER and Microcut, but what really is impressive is the amount of data it produces for us,” revealed Jaaron Sanderson, K&R’s CEO who has been with the company for 16 years.
“It tracks jobs and the time it takes to complete each one. That information tells us if our estimates are good or if we need to revise our pricing models. It also helps with quality control, allowing us to link each job to a specific day, time and operator. With better reference data, we can calculate more accurate turnaround times for our customers.”
That’s important for a few reasons. The Plastic Industry Association’s 2016 Size and Impact report, issued in January 2017, indicated that demand for plastics reached a record $295.4 billion in 2015. Texas employs the most people in the industry, and it is the third largest manufacturing sector in shipments behind oil and gas extraction and automobiles.
Servicing customers quickly is the goal and why K&R places a premium on fast turnarounds, often taking a morning order and shipping it the same day.
Founded in the early 1980s, the company offers 10 types of print-grade plastics and produces millions of pounds each month for its North American customers. In addition to the Austin headquarters, K&R operates four strategically located distribution centers in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and Nevada to service customers from coast-to-coast and in Canada and Mexico.
When Sanderson went in search of a replacement for an old 60-inch paper cutter, he remembered Colter & Peterson from past reconnaissance missions.
“I knew them from trade shows I attended, so I found C&P on the internet (www.papercutters.com) and I called Bruce Peterson,” he recalled. “We have only one other cutter, a 55-inch Pivano, and our regular sheet size is 60 inches. I spoke with Bruce and we focused on the SABER XXL with its double arm pull action.”
“There were a few early issues but we made the typical adjustments and the machine has performed well,” said Wilbert Peters, K&R’s Operations manager. “We like the angle and degree of the double bevel blade and how accurate it is. It trims at 1/64th of an inch, which gives us really sharp cuts. It’s also a safe machine. We are more comfortable working with it and knowing that since the electronic eye-beam is very sensitive, the machine will stop functioning if we can get too close.”
Peters said they use the SABER XXL to cut thicknesses up to 6 mil, and the average order size is 2,500 pounds of material. Their market consists primarily of commercial printers, printed card manufacturers, classic screen and Fortune 500 printers. Styrene is the leading choice of substrates, and K&R makes it available in a variety of gauges and stock sizes with three different types of finishes and grades. The SABER XXL ensures the highest quality of work.
“Our smallest size cuts are 3 inches by 48 inches, and the largest size is 60 inches by 40 inches,” informed Peter. “Depending on the thickness, we typically stack and cut material between 3 and 3-1/2 inches high. If it’s a smaller thickness, we’ll go 4 inches high and when it’s larger, it’s closer to 2 or 3 inches.
“The PRISM unloader makes it easy to stack the material for cutting. We used to have two operators work the old cutter, but now we only need one; the other person is doing something else so we’re more effective. It’s so easy to use, the operator just needs to hit a button,” summed up Peter, who said they run the SABER XXL for 9-hour shifts, 5 days a week.
The button Peter referenced is connected to the 12-inch touchscreen control on the computerized Microcut PLUS system. The automated technology guides the back gauge into position for each and every trim, speeding the entire process at the same time.
“There is no comparison between the older cutter and the SABER XXL,” concludes Sanderson “We have shortened the time of the average job by 2 hours. Before we installed the SABER, it typically took between 4-5 hours per job, so we have a 50 percent savings in time.”