Originally starting life as a label converting house in 1993, the company has expanded into Inline Flexo Cartons with Edale presses at its production facility in Tavistock. Nick Coombes reports from Devon on behalf of Brunton Business Publications Ltd.

Set in the heart of the UK’s beautiful ‘west country’, better known for its holiday locations and adventures, Tamar Packaging Solutions is a specialist BRC-accredited manufacturer of direct food contact cartons, with a special eye for detail. The current production facility, which was opened in 2002, was purpose-built to meet BRCGS clean room standards for food packaging, with all the obligatory protective hats, coats, and footwear for staff and visitors that are part of the quarantine requirements. This, along with its detailed care in all aspects of production has ensured at least an A Grade in BRC Global Standard for Packaging Materials every year since 2003, an accolade of which the company is mighty proud.

In fact, Tamar is currently AA+ rated, thanks to an unannounced audit in June this year, and it also became FSC accredited in 2022. Paper-based packaging with an ‘FSC™ Certification’ confirms to customers and suppliers that the wood used to create the product has been responsibly managed, taking into account sustainability measures like water and energy usage, community support, and the end-products overall environmental rating.

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Paul Baker, Technical Operations Manager, Tamar

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Paul Baker, Technical Operations Manager, Tamar, explains, “Our strategy is constantly developing but will always focus on the new opportunities being opened by the ever-changing demand in the packaging sector.”

It was this lateral thinking that initially brought about contact with Edale in 2017 with the installation of a seven-colour FL5 press carton press with a 510mm web width to add to its existing four-colour Edale Sigma.

With business continuing to grow, a two-colour FL5 was added in 2020, which has been retrospectively upgraded to a three-colour. In 2021, the seven-colour FL5 was upgraded to an eight-colour followed by the addition of the latest eight-colour FL5 in late 2022. All the Edale FL5 presses are well-equipped with features including AiiR autonomous inking, impression and print registration, large unwinds, rail-mounted turn bars, UV and IR drying/curing capability, BST monitors, rotary die-cutters (RDC), and shingling delivery tables.

With such a commitment to Edale technology, Baker adds,

“We have known Edale for a long time, even back when the business operated as a label company and have seen their technology evolve over the years into the state-of the-art machines they produce today. To have three FL5’s is a real
game-changer that allows us to go from roll to carton to pallet and straight out to our customer.”

Flexibility is Key

Because of the company’s continual growth, it is vital to have the production flexibility that allows it to adapt to varying job demands and meet customers’ expectations. Production at the plant includes flat cards, sleeves, cartons, and some jobs that are run to a finished roll. “The increased print production capacity gives us the essential flexibility, and the new machines allow us to achieve a high-speed roll-to-finished product production all in a single pass,” he added.

Part of the company’s commitment to efficiency was a  complete reconfiguration of its plant to optimise workflow and maximise floor space. This included the installation of a sophisticated ducted waste removal system across all three carton presses.  Features like this, along with the chambered ink pump system allow Tamar to operate at high speed with minimal waste – and with sustainability close to its heart and that of its customers, the use of water-based inks is a key ingredient. Production speeds are typically 150-180 m/min, which equates to around 36,000 blanks/hour. With its quick and easy set-up, this makes the FL5 well-suited to short, medium, and long-run work. According to Baker, the aim is to double the size of the business with steady but sustained growth, which is why Tamar is currently looking into further automation to help meet new production targets.

This, he believes, is where the benefit of Edale’s modular design and build strategy also comes into play, because it allows users to add retrofits and upgrades to meet changes in demand. With a top-class portfolio of customers to supply, Tamar also knows the importance of after-sales support, as Baker notes,

“I’ve always been impressed with Edale’s customer service team and the feedback I receive on technical questions. They have come on a long way and the presses they manufacture are up there with the best of them.”

This chimes well with James Boughton, Managing Director at Edale, who comments, “Our partnership with Tamar has evolved over 30 years as it has enabled us to gain valuable insights into their business needs. We were delighted that they recently upgraded their two-colour FL5 to three colours, which shows first-hand how easily upgradable and customisable all our presses are. This allows users like Tamar to add customised options to suit their business and enable them to continue to expand and grow as and when needed.”

Enhanced Offering

Referring to the latest installation of the eight-colour Edale FL5, Baker says, “It gives us the flexibility to venture into new areas of the packaging world and enables us to offer our customers the opportunities to enhance their products further – and at the same time allows us to attract new business.” The FL5’s primary function is catering for the company’s core business of converting carton boards for the FMCG market, as well as producing self-erect cartons for many different sectors of the food sector. It offers quicker setups, a wider web width, and faster running speeds that boost productivity across a wide substrate range from 12 – 600 microns that suits many applications from boxes to scratch cards.

Summing up, Boughton says,

“We are delighted that Tamar has chosen to continue investing in Edale presses. It’s always positive when a customer returns to us as it’s a clear indicator that our new technology is meeting the demands of the current market. Over the years, we have taken pride in seeing how Tamar’s continued investment with Edale has supported its development and expansion, and it’s clear that the exceptional packaging products and print quality they offer leave a lasting impression.”

Author’s Conclusion

There is no doubt in my mind that the opportunities offered by inline flexo are perfectly complementary to the carton market that, certainly in Europe, sees sheet-fed offset as the main production tool, with offline converting. Restrained only by its web width, inline flexo, as opposed to wide web CI presses, have previously been viewed as fringe and niche – but that’s the way the market is moving, shorter runs, more colours, more SKUs, and more embellishment. What the Edale FL5 single-pass carton production line does for Tamar is offer all these with one operator and no down stacking – perhaps that’s why their name includes the words ‘packaging solutions’?