MAN Execs Assess State of Industry

For today’s market, in-line capabilities are an important trend in sheetfed printing technology, Lapinski added. This includes systems for quality control and finishing.

To see some of these industry trends in action, the event included a trip to Accord Carton in Alsip, IL. This packaging shop added a MAN Roland 900 six-color, 56˝ sheetfed press as one component of the $6.5 million investment it made last year to upgrade its capabilities.

The company has more than doubled its sales, to around $15 million in 2006, since moving into a new facility two years ago. One of the big selling points of its current facility, a former Keebler plant, is an automated materials handling system that can store more than 13,000 pallets of finished goods.

The automated pallet storage and retrieval system uses automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to move materials to and from a set of racks five stories high (75 feet) and covering the length of a football field. Accord bought brand new pallets to use with the system because their condition impacts its performance.

According to Robert Codo, Accord’s president, Keebler had invested $15 million in the warehousing system. It is controlled by a computer system that tracks materials in real-time and enables the printer’s customers to view inventory levels online. Alerts can be set to warn when inventories are getting old.

A secondary benefit of the system is that it reduces the potential for damage being done to packages. “We have one client who had used another supplier that had to double stack skids, which warped the cartons and caused feeding problems,” Codo explains.

The printer routinely only uses a fraction of the storage capacity so it has plenty of room to grow. This also gives Accord the flexibility to serve customers with seasonal needs. One of its client’s is an ice cream cone company that the shop will print and inventory around a million cartons for in the spring so the packaging is ready to meet summer demand.

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