Stralfors increases mailing capacity with Kern’s inserting/cutter solution
Customer communication experts Stralfors needed additional mail inserting capacity to meet new client demands and growing mail volumes. Kern’s new mail inserter and sheet cutter solution more than doubled its productivity, helping to meet SLAs more easily and win new business.
Stralfors offers a wide range of integrated communication solutions, from email and SMS to cut-sheet and continuous high-speed digital colour printing. In the UK, Stralfors processes over 80 million pieces of customer communications mail every year and clients include a number of major blue-chip companies. Part of PostNord, one of the Nordic region’s largest mail handling and logistics operators, Stralfors has offices in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Poland and France.
Mailing volumes at Stralfors UK had been growing due to new business wins and a rapid rise in the company’s high-speed digital print output, plus a significant increase in the number of pages and inserts that clients were now printing in-line with the prime document. A major new client win was the turning point that meant Stralfors needed extra inserting and mailing capacity.
“Our existing Kern inserter and sheet cutter were working well but weren’t fast enough to process the new growth in multi-page applications,” explained Steve Rowson, Head of UK Operations at Stralfors. “Overall, print production had increased 100% since we installed the high-speed inkjet printer last year and a new client win involved running a daily job of at least seven pages per envelope. We knew immediately we’d need extra capacity to handle the new work.”
Stralfors had been working with Kern for the last 12 years, using a range of its inserting and cutting machines. After examining what the wider industry had to offer, Stralfors once again turned to Kern to see if it had a suitable proposition. The outcome was the installation of a high speed Kern K3500 Silverline mail inserter, linked to the latest, technologically advanced K996 automatic cutter.
“We chose Kern due to the hardware’s impressive capabilities but also the positive nature of its long-term, partnership approach to business,” explained Steve. “The new machinery has created an incredibly fast and reliable solution, while the depth of our relationship means that Kern understands our business and is keen to identify how we can improve efficiency and increase productivity. The way the team at Kern responds to our unforeseen business challenges is also very impressive.”
Capable of processing up to 68,000 sheets per hour, the Kern K996 cutter can handle more than double the previous 30,000 of the old K940/990 cutter. This incredibly fast front-end feeds the K3500 Silverline mail inserter, which can handle up to 24,000 envelopes per hour. “Operators were giving enthusiastic feedback from the moment it went live, commenting how quick and easy the new system was to operate,” said Steve. “With reduced set-up times, greater efficiency, fewer wrecks and very little down-time, the K996 has been a fantastic investment for us.”
Stralfors is now achieving double the productivity with higher multiple page jobs compared to before and can deal with growing client demands, as Steve explained: “The new system has helped keep customers happy as we’re able to achieve our SLAs (Service Level Agreements) more easily. The system is flexible too, so we can accommodate a wide range of new applications. Another bonus is being able to take on more new business due to the increased capacity – we can also handle any kind of peaks we may encounter.”
An example of this was when Stralfors processed a customer’s entire backlog of mailings, caused by the long Easter holiday weekend, within 24 hours. “The speed of the Kern cutter solution meant that we processed 3 days normal volumes in just 24 hours,” continued Steve. “The client had never received this level of service before from previous suppliers and they were really impressed with our speed of recovery. It really is a brilliant system.”
One of the main benefits of the close working relationship has been the amount of maintenance training provided by Kern. Stralfors’ operators can now perform many maintenance tasks themselves, as Steve explained: “Kern has worked alongside us to up-skill our operators so they can deliver first line maintenance, which has reduced the amount of preventative maintenance sessions we need from Kern. This has given us a massive improvement in efficiency because we now have an immediate response capability and therefore less downtime.”
Reliability is one of Stralfors’ core business values and Kern’s machinery and training is helping to underpin this, as Steve concludes: “A large percentage of our work is same day turnaround, so we need the equipment and support services that can achieve this every time. Overall, we’re now far more productive as a site and our Operational Efficiency figures have risen which helps us grow the business.”