Digital Magazine

Flex-Pack Converter Has a Clear View...

Kendall Packaging, headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, was founded by Lowell Kendall in 1948. The company was purchased in 1970 by current CEO Eric Ericson and is run by Ericson and his son, Eric III, who serves as president. Kendall operates plants in Jefferson, WI, and Pittsburg, KS.

With more than 30 employees, Kendall's Pittsburg plant has been in operation for 16 years specializing in converting polypropylene that it reverse prints and laminates. The plant produces food storage bags, cheese wraps, food overwraps, and cookie and candy bags, employing two flexo presses, two laminators, and two slitters.

Kendall has found it can continue growing through attention to customer satisfaction, emphasis on its competitive advantages, focus on quality in every phase of its operations, and a continuous investment in technology.

“Even with the downturn in the economy last year, I don't think we've seen any effect on our business,” says Randy Mjelde, operations manager.

Kendall's investment in technology began two years ago with a new Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC) Vision II eight-color press, along with a J.M. Heaford video mounter. The Vision II has a chambered ink metering system and BST Pro Mark Model ekr 1000 web guiding systems on the unwind and the rewind.

The press gives Kendall the ability to produce the higher quality graphics its customers are expecting and the ability to produce them faster and more economically. A typical job uses seven or eight colors with 700-800-line anilox rolls running at speeds from 600-800 fpm.

Kendall has used the press to its advantage and to strengthen a competitive advantage: fast order turnaround.

“Customers can call today and say we need this on the truck in the morning, and 99% of the time we fulfill the need,” says Mjelde. Adds lead press operator Bobby McDaniel, “The quick-change features of the press allow us to do an eight-color changeover — with inks, plates, aniloxes — in an hour and a half.”

Quality control systems and an awareness of quality during the production process are the norm at Kendall. Operators, assistants, and supervisors monitor process variables with checklists at every step of the process: prepress, plate production, plate mounting, printing, laminating, slitting, and packing are checked and double checked. A work record is kept on every job, with specifications and detailed quality data from each run.

Ink specialist Mike Southern says, “Quality is an on-going process that we strive to improve every day. Our goal is to get to where we computer check all colors, running every job by density.”

On press, “we print by the numbers,” adds McDaniel, who watches key variables such as color density and ink viscosity carefully.

Does this extreme focus on quality pay off? “We're a relatively small company, and if we have to throw a $20,000-job in the trash, that's a big hit,” says Glen Corn, laminator operator. “For us, it has had a real effect.”

Seeing the Repeat
The focus on quality and process control continued at Kendall in October 2001 when a BST Pro Mark Genius Digital web inspection system was installed on the Vision II press. The system has digital camera technology, dual 17-in. monitors (one at the press console and another at the central impression drum), and Virtual Repeat Technology, which provides the user with a photographic quality image of the entire repeat.

BST Genius Digital is a full-featured visual inspection system; it has a large 7×9-in. field of view and 30x magnification that's said to be ideal for seeing the micro dots Kendall uses for register. It also has a programmable position feature that allows selected areas of the print to be recalled and viewed at the touch of a single icon; Auto Constant Scan that Kendall says it uses all the time; and automatic centering of image areas.

“We wanted the ability to watch what's going on with the web. Now I can be at the back of the press doing something like cleaning the cylinders and not be tied to the front of the press,” says McDaniel.

“With a lot of other scanning systems, you think you're seeing something and you stop, and then you can't find it. Not with Genius. It has a real clear picture and is very operator-friendly. And I can see the whole repeat, which is really cool. I use it all the time. In fact, all three shifts use it religiously,” he adds.

Kendall reports it purchased the inspection system for a variety of reasons. The company plans to add capabilities in the future, and the BST Genius Digital can be upgraded to add automatic defect detection, automatic color, bar code monitoring, and even makeready and running register control (see the sidebar below).

Digital camera technology reportedly accounts for the photographic image quality and the possibility of virtual repeat.

Repeatedly Investing
Kendall's investment in technology, which actively contributes to its competitive position, continues with the recent installation of a Schiavi solventless laminator with an Enercon corona treater. The laminator sets up faster, runs at 1,000 fpm, and requires only one operator. According to Glen Corn, “We feel it produces a better, clearer lamination compared to the gravure-type laminator.”

Most recently the company installed a new Flint Ink computerized blending machine with 16 color-dispensing stations. “Within the next year, we expect to cut our ink inventory, which was running about 30,000 pounds at any given time, by half or even more,” says Southern.

At a time when many companies are pulling back on capital spending, Kendall is making a conscious decision to invest in technology. It has sought systems and equipment consistent with its mission (to be guided at all times by the needs of its customers); contribute to productivity enhancement; and strengthen its competitive position. Kendall has deployed a strategy that uses technology to its advantage.

Mike Southern sums up: “If we don't turn out a quality product, we're going to be eaten up. There are a lot of companies out there doing what we do. It's all about producing the best possible product and responding to the needs of our customers.”

A recent project presented at the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) Forum in May by John Thome, VP of marketing for BST Pro Mark, quantified the value and return on investment of a new makeready and running register control system for flexo central-impression presses.

Conducted over the past year, the study found that the average CI eight-color job uses 1,112 ft of material and takes 10.72 min for setting proper register per job. There was no significant difference between older geared CI and the newer gearless presses in the amount of time and material used for setting register.

Using new register control technology, setting of correct register (to within ±0.004 in.) is accomplished in less than 2 min using 50-100 ft of material, according to the study. Using such a system, the FTA project identifies hard cost savings of $117.00 per job plus additional uptime valued at $80.00 per job, for a total impact of $197.00 per job.

The study concludes that a press running 20 jobs per week generates 139 additional productive hours of press time per year, valued at $83,000. The study also identifies cost savings of $121,000 per year and a total impact of $205,000 per year.


Kendall Packaging

1901 E. 27 Terrace, Pittsburg, KS 66762; 630/231-9804;



BST Pro Mark,

Elmhurst, IL; 630/833-9900;


Paper Converting Machinery Co., Green Bay, WI; 920/491-6637; pcmc.com

J.M Heaford Ltd., Altrincham, Cheshire, U.K.; +44 161 928 5679; jmheaford.co.uk

Schiavi (The Bobst Group), Roseland, NJ; 973/226-8625; bobstgroup.com

Enercon Industries, Menomonee Falls, WI; 262/255-6070; enerconind.com

Flint Ink, Ann Arbor, MI; 734/622-6131; flintink.com

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