For furniture and indeed many other manufacturers, packaging can be a major headache. The size range and volume of either pre-fabricated or flat-packed boxes that have to be held in stock to pack a manufacturer’s products ready for delivery often demand a considerable amount of storage space.
In addition, there tends to be high wastage of cardboard, as often boxes that are too big for the products have to be used with filler materials to provide secure packaging.
“On-demand box making machines are not new,” explains Simon Brooks, sales and marketing director for HOMAG UK. “With the Germans’ usual insight, however, they recognised that the solutions available were not sufficiently flexible or technically advanced enough and so they decided to design and produce their own.
"The resulting machine, the HOMAG VKS 250 powerTouch, has caused quite a stir in the packaging market and it is something we want to take advantage of here in the UK.
“At HOMAG UK, our knowledge and experience are very much rooted in the woodworking and furniture manufacturing markets. Consequently, we felt it was important to find a company we could partner with who had the in-depth familiarity and detailed knowledge of the single and double wall corrugated packaging market.
“One of our team, Jon Lawman, made contact with Braepac, a company that has established itself within the corrugated market. To our surprise, they were in the process of evaluating box making machine manufacturers with the aim of partnering with one to provide more of a one-stop-shop for its customers.”
James Hilson, a director of Braepac takes up the story: “We had already carried out considerable research into the market when Jon Lawman from HOMAG UK contacted us. As HOMAG operates in a completely different market, however, we weren’t aware of its new cardboard-box cutting machine, the VKS 250.
“Jon’s approach couldn’t have been more timely. None of the established box-making machine companies offered anything as technically advanced, versatile and easy to use as HOMAG’s VKS 250. After initial talks with HOMAG UK, they invited us out to Germany to view the HOMAG Automation facility and to visit one of its customers to see the machine in a working environment.”
Production machine for small run and specialist packaging
“Once we’d experienced the set up in Germany and totally understood the capabilities of the VKS 250, we were convinced that HOMAG was the company to partner with.
“Consequently, we decided to buy a VKS 250 for ourselves. This would serve two purposes; firstly, it would provide HOMAG UK with a show piece where they could bring potential customers to see the machine in operation.
“Secondly, it would give us the opportunity to provide a specialist service for our customers by enabling us to manufacture small runs of both small and large boxes on a next day delivery.”
The new partnership will mean both HOMAG and Braepac will be promoting the machine in the UK market. James Hilson from Braepac will be working very closely with all the HOMAG UK sales team to help them with their customers. When a customer show interest in the VKS 250, James will carry out a free consultation and do a full packaging report for that customer.
One of the key benefits of the partnership from Braepac’s point of view is that it enables them to sell-in both the raw material and the machine (the VKS 250) as a complete package offering a ‘one stop shop’ for customers.
A powerful, efficient and reliable stand-alone or inline solution
James Hilson again: “It’s early days, but we see a huge potential for this partnership. The machine will produce boxes of all sizes, from as small as a 20mm x 20mm x 20mm, up to a 1m x 1m x 10m box. Whatever you want to produce, the VKS 250 will make it; it’s exceptionally versatile and very, very different to anything else in the market.
“It is also extremely easy to set up and operate. There are no complications to it at all; it’s very customer friendly, enabling companies to utilise every aspect of the machine with only the basic training required.
“The system is controlled with the standard HOMAG powerTouch software and box dimensions can be fed in via a volumetric scanner, master data (which uses a barcode to gain the product’s dimensions) or manual input. It’s really easy to use.
“The VKS 250 can be operated as a stand-alone box making machine or used inline to provide an on-demand box making facility on any production line. HOMAG has produced a very informative video that clearly illustrates this.
“It will process all grades of single and double-wall corrugated board in thicknesses from 2.5 mm to 6.5 mm. The VKS 250 can be specified as a sheet or a continuous fan-fold corrugated board fed machine, whichever the production process demands.
“Being German designed and engineered, it is not only robust and reliable, but also very safe. The built in systems mean that operators cannot get too close to areas of potential danger, such as cutting elements, without the machine automatically shutting down until the danger is removed.
“Also, the VKS 250 offers impressive return on investment (ROI). For example, one HOMAG customer we are working with is currently spending around £175,000 a year on boxes. By producing its boxes on a VKS 250 the company’s spend on boxes will be reduced by almost 30 per cent per year. That’s a very substantial saving based on materials alone; it doesn’t even take into account wastage, labour and storage space savings.”
A strong and fruitful partnership
“We’re very confident that this partnership with HOMAG UK will be a long and fruitful one. It will provide excellent opportunities not only for HOMAG and Braepac, but also for the customers of both companies who will benefit from the depth of knowledge and experience they can draw on, for both the machine and materials,” concludes James Hilson.
Brooks adds: “Braepac has shown the commitment that will ensure this partnership is successful. They have established themselves as a leader in the single faced corrugated market and we want our customers to benefit from their knowledge and experience.”