Walcher & Rees GmbH in Heidenheim is one of the leading suppliers of labels in the German-speaking region. By their own account, this 200-strong, family-run company produces nearly 16 billion labels each year. To successfully meet the growing demand, they have put the second POLAR DC-11plus Label System into service.
Describing the strategy leading to the introduction of the POLAR machine, managing director Fabian Walz says: "When the economic situation at Walcher & Rees GmbH became more difficult in 2010, we decided to restructure the company". In this regard, attention focused on the five die-cutters which had seen better days and in the management's view no longer conformed to the level of performance which is both possible and necessary to achieve in today's market. The idea was that by deploying new units equipped with the latest technology the overall number of machines could be reduced whilst significantly increasing productivity.
Close Cooperation with POLAR
At just the right moment, while it was searching for a partner with whom to implement these ideas, the company received an offer from POLAR. The engineering company had presented the prototype for a new die-cutting system at drupa 2012 and was itself looking for a partner with the facilities for installing and testing the machine under production conditions. As many years of collaboration with POLAR in the field of cutting machines had seen nothing but positive results and since there was a feeling that the existing suppliers of die-cutting machines had fallen behind the Hofheim company both in terms of technology and performance, there was nothing to be said against the concept or to prevent Walcher & Rees from awarding the contract to POLAR.
Many positive effects
Today, production is arranged so that the labeling material is first cut into strips with a POLAR high-speed cutter. Two strips of labels arranged side by side are then cut into individual label stacks. These are separated and then transported one by one to the DCplus system die-cutter. After die-cutting, the label packs are automatically carried onto the BDplus single-head bander and banded together. Thanks to the revised processes, the DC-11plus today handles up to 24 packs per minute whereas its predecessor's peak was 16 packs per minute. As regards production at Walcher & Rees, this means that, depending on the order, up to nine million labels can be produced in one shift, whereas previously only six million was possible under the same conditions.
A particular advantage in this regard is the machine's ability to cut two stacks at once. Walz: "We currently use the machine particularly for print runs in the tens of millions and we are extremely happy with it."
What managers also appreciate is the flexibility of the machine when it comes to formats and their uses. "We are now able to process hundreds of the most varied formats accurately and reliably with very rapid retooling," says Walz. The large table, which by contrast with the earlier models is significantly easier to load and can hold a pre-buffer of up to three layers, is a contributing factor, as is the fact that, compared with the earlier models, there is greater scope for adjustment, for example as regards tilting, rotating and distortion handling. Walz: "And, in this regard, we shouldn't forget the stability and construction of the machine itself. Once the production parameters have been set, the cut product is transferred smoothly and steadily into the die-cutting room to be further processed. You can practically let the machine run on its own."