Since 2008 NB Cushions has grown to become one of the top suppliers of high quality cushions to the retail sector. In order to ensure that its labels, barcodes and packaging are of similar quality, it uses technology from Toshiba TEC.
Knowsley based NB Cushions is one of the UK’s leading cushion manufacturers and produces over 75,000 items per week, using the latest equipment and manufacturing methods. Specialising in fibre and feather filled cushions, the company has built an enviable reputation within the retail sector for its ability to create superior products that hold their shape, are comfortable and can be made to any required texture, shape and size.
NB Cushions offers a comprehensive range of services that enables customers to get their stock ready for sale quickly and efficiently. From packing and labelling to boxing and distribution, many of the company’s clients take advantage of its cushion processing service, where they simply supply their own cushion covers to be filled with a chosen filling. These are then packaged, labelled and dispatched – a service that is both cost effective and timesaving.
To ensure that deliveries are made in a prompt and efficient manner, NB Cushions’ printing and labelling technology is a vital part of the overall process and it only uses state-of-the-art solutions. As a company that always looks to build in efficiencies to its production process, it had already heard about Toshiba TEC’s innovative APLEX4 – a low cost automatic label print and application system that combines high performance and cost effectiveness.
After making contact, Toshiba TEC referred the enquiry to Bradford based Norpak. Gary Day, Sales Manager at Norpak, states, ‘We provide the latest printing and labelling solutions to a diverse array of companies on a worldwide basis and have formed an excellent partnership with Toshiba TEC. Boasting features usually only seen on considerably more expensive systems, APLEX4 is designed for use alongside Toshiba TEC’s highly successful B-EX4T series of industrial printers to provide seamless workflows.’
In order to ensure that the APLEX4 would be suitable for NB Cushions’ needs and to configure the best possible solution, Gary Day visited the site and met with Graham Foster, Operations Director at NB Cushions, to find out more about the requirement.
Graham Foster comments, ‘We needed a system that could automatically print and apply labels on to packs of up to three cushions. We had been using a desktop label printer to print the labels on to a reel, which would then be applied by hand – a tedious and time-consuming job for up to three people at a time. With demand growing, a solution that could speed up the automation process and free up production line personnel for other tasks was imperative, and Gary was confident that APLEX4 would be able to make the whole process more efficient.’
A perfect fit
APLEX4 boasts features usually only seen on considerably more expensive systems, and its cutting edge design, performance and low cost of ownership meant that it could be easily integrated into NB Cushions’ production line.
Asked to explain some of the device’s unique feature and benefits, Becky Viccars, Marketing Manager at Toshiba TEC, replies, ‘It can handle production levels of up to 30 labels per minute and is available in resolutions of 200, 300 and 600dpi. With a backlit LCD graphical user interface (GUI), access to information and settings is simple, and it is possible to apply labels from the top, bottom or sides and at any rotation angle required. Safety is assured thanks to a perimeter signal feature that prevents piston movement in case of access to the enclosed work area, as well as a “presence of hand” sensor option.’
Functionality and flexibility are also to the fore. The truly plug and play APLEX4 also accommodates ribbon lengths of up to 800m, and an automatic ribbon save feature reduces wastage and downtime whilst maximising efficiency – reducing total operating costs and helping to lower an NB Cushions’ impact on the environment.
APLEX4 made an immediate impact on the efficiency of the production line process at NB Cushions. Located directly over the conveyor belt, once the cushions are filled, placed into plastic packets and compressed, the packages are then labelled before being dispatched.
‘Packages are produced in different shapes, sizes and dimensions, so being able to affix the labels on accurately is vital to the overall process,’ says Gary Day. ‘Label sizes from 25x25mm to 116x200mm can be affixed through the simple adjustment of contact pressure levels, which doesn’t damage the cushions. Just as importantly, the labels are printed on an “as needed” basis, meaning that they print one at a time and a specific job can be cancelled at any point in the process. This can significantly reduce the amount of wastage incurred.’
Reliable and robust
‘As a growing company, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to increase our operational efficiency,’ said Graham Foster at NB Cushions. ‘We are extremely pleased with the difference that the versatile APLEX4 from Toshiba TEC has made by facilitating the complete automation of our labelling processes. It allows us to save time, lower wastage and reduce the manual labour required, and we achieved a return on investment in just over two months. Just as importantly, the customer service we have received from Norpak is second to none and it has been a incredibly worthwhile experience all round.’