U.S. packaging company sets world record for number of set-ups in a single shift

From left are: Hector Rios (Welch Maintenance Manager); Phil Eads (Regional Sales Manager, Bobst North America); Paul Sarna (Flexo Leadman); Matt Danczyk (Plant Superintendent); Didier Chevroton (Area Sales Manager, Bobst Lyon); Dan Kunkes (Plant Manager); Ruben Jiminez (Operator); Kendale Cooper (Operator); Raymundo Hernandez (Assistant); Tom Phillips (Director of Product Line FFG-DRO, Bobst North America); Steve Alvarado (Shift Supervisor); and Dave Hense (Assistant).

Welch Packaging (Elkhart, Indiana, with other locations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee), a leading U.S. corrugated packaging company specializing in custom packaging solutions, has set a new world record for the number of set-ups in a single, 8-hour shift. The Chicago branch of Welch managed to complete a staggering 103 order changes in 8 hours, each requiring its own set-up of the FFG 8.20 Discovery from Bobst – an ultra-efficient flexo folder-gluer that produces high-quality RSC boxes, and which is known for its rapid set-up times and high productivity.

Welch produces corrugated boxes for companies in a wide range of sectors including food and drink, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It also focuses on supporting local businesses. As a result, short runs are very common. So a machine with quick set-up times and high productivity is essential. In fact, the company had aleeady achieved four back-to-back set-up world records, including the recent final run of 103 order changes in 8 hours.

Bobst is one of the world’s leading suppliers of equipment and services to packaging and label manufacturers in the folding carton, corrugated board and flexible materials industries. Founded in 1890 in Lausanne, Switzerland by Joseph Bobst, the company has a presence in more than 50 countries, runs 14 production facilities in 8 countries, and employs close to 5,400 people worldwide.

The Bobst FFG 8.20 Discovery Flexo Folder-Gluer.

“We’re very proud and very excited to have achieved this world record,” said Doug Poulston, General Manager at Welch Chicago. “We believe it’s indicative of our culture at Welch. We’re committed to our local customers, we have a very “can do” approach, and we pride ourselves on quick turnarounds. On this particular day, we had large, urgent orders from two of our major customers and we were determined to make it happen for them. With the help of our exceptional flexo folder-gluer and production team, that’s exactly what we did.”

Welch Chicago bought its Bobst FFG 8.20 in the summer of 2017. It was the latest in a line of packaging production machines that Welch had purchased from the OEM. “We know with Bobst, it’s more than just a transactional relationship,” said Dan Kunkes, Plant Manager at Welch Chicago. “They’re invested in our success too – after all, it’s good for both parties if we maximize the abilities of their machines. After our FFG 8.20 Discovery was installed, Bobst personnel visited us multiple times to provide the technical coaching needed to ensure best practices and optimal operational techniques. Now, our operators are experts on the machine and know how to maximize it, which our recent world record clearly demonstrates.”

“The hidden factor is that the machine has served as an additional catalyst in the already dynamic culture of Welch Packaging,” Poulston added. “Our production floor is more competitive from shift to shift than ever before. We were actually very close to the total box production record (which currently stands at 131,518 boxes in a single 8-hour shift), just falling a minute or two short. So that one is in our sights! But ultimately, what matters most is achieving what our customers need – and that will continue to be our focus.”

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.